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Godly Kings of the Past

Last Sunday was the feast of St Michael the Archangel, traditionally called Michaelmas.  In the secular, anti-religious society in which we live today, it is easy to forget the Catholic times in which our forefathers dwelt.

King Æthelred II of England reigned from 18th March 978 until 23rd April 1016.

 A Gold coin struck during Æthelred's reign shows the King wearing his armour.


According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in the year A.D. 1014, King Æthelred enacted the following law:

"That every Christian who is of age, fast three days on bread and water, and raw herbs before the feast of St Michael, and let every man go to Confession and to church barefoot. Let every priest with his people go in procession three days barefoot, and let everyone’s commons for three days be prepared without anything of flesh, as if they themselves were to eat it, both in meat and in drink, and let all this be distributed to the poor. Let every servant be excused labour these three days that he may better perform his fast or let him work what he will for himself. These be the three days, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next before the feast of St Michael. If any servant break his fast let him make satisfaction with his hide (bodily stripes), let the poor free man pay thirty pence, the king’s thane 130 shillings; and let the money be divided to the poor."

King Æthelred II upon his throne.

If only the rulers of our times were so concerned for the things of God!

"what is it?"...

he asked with a somewhat suspicious tone, having opened the shower room door to find his mother and her offering


"ummm" said i, stalling for time. "would that be, what is it, or what was it meant to be?"

"both" he quipped, hair still damp

"well, lets see, it was supposed to be a nice warm mug of hot chocolate but is now a chocolate surprise pudding" i beamed

"fair enough" he replied peering closer... " interesting, how did you achieve it?"

"well" i gushed, "it just magically happened, i heated up some almond milk, added some hot chocolate powder and at the last moment, a flourish of artistic creative thought came over me as my inner Chopped Contestant spoke up and i added a banana no less! upon where i whisked it all together with my whisky thing, turned around to retrieve 2 mugs from the cupboard and went to pour out the hot chocolate to find nothing moved. on close inspection it appeared i had made a water logged blancmange."

"have you tried it yet?" he asked

"i thought perhaps you might like to go first seeing as i like you so much" 

tentatively he lifted the spoon to his mouth...

"not bad, not bad at all... if you don't actually look at it and keep your eyes closed" where upon he promptly finished up the whole bowl as i stood there wide eyed and amazed at the wonder of my 'accidental but oh so edible according to Our #3' chocolate pudding.

i left him to his shower room obliterations, and pottled down to the kitchen, empty bowl in hand thinking well how marvelous is that! picking up my bowl, i sampled the contents and after one mouthful, my little cuisine heart sank to the very bottom of my culinary soul. leaving me in the knowledge that indeed, Ted Allen and his team of judges would have chopped me without a doubt and sent me home for my 'chocolate surprise pudding'

Processing

It's no secret that when life gets hard, I get quiet. It's how you know something is really wrong. Since getting Ryan's autism diagnosis on September 9, things have been absolutely insane.



Our au pair, who had been with our family for ten days at the time, quit because she "wasn't comfortable taking care of a child with special needs". Ryan's diagnosis was an excuse, she claimed she didn't know he was special needs. Yet I have several emails from before we matched, the last one having been sent on August 11, explaining that Ryan was having issues and that it was likely that he would be diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder or PDD-NOS (which was recently just lumped into autism spectrum disorder). Literally two hours after I got home from the developmental pediatrician she sat crying and making a fuss in our kitchen. I sat there watching this girl cry, and all I could think was "I can't believe I am fucking dealing with this. Today."



We were supposed to host her in our home for 16 days while she tried to find a new host family. I made it three before I couldn't stomach the sight of her and asked the agency to find her alternate accommodations. For the ten days she was here I ran around trying to make her life easier and help her settle in, when it was really her who was supposed to be here making my life easier. Regardless, I am happy she's gone. I was even happier to hear that her ego was so bruised by me removing her from our home that she flew back to Spain. Her actions both in our home and after being removed from it caused her to be taken out of the au pair program, sparing another host family from having to deal with her self-entitled nonsense.



So while I have been trying to process my son's diagnosis I was dealing with her issues and trying to keep my family afloat without the childcare that we were depending upon for so long. While working, while increasing Ryan's service load, while trying to make decisions about what comes next for him, while trying to find replacement childcare. And so September was the month that I nearly drowned in my own life.







Ryan's diagnosis is kind of a trifecta of perfect and terrible timing. He qualified for services in August, got a diagnosis a month later thus increasing his service level, and we have to qualify him to transition to the CPSE (Committee on Preschool Education) because he will be three in January. It is terrible because each of those things alone would be overwhelming in both information and things that need to be taken care of, together they are almost impossible. Almost.



It is perfect because without the diagnosis we may have had to fight to keep services with his transition to the CPSE, and he would have never seen the service increase he's getting now, which will only help him.



With his diagnosis he's now getting approximately 11-15 hours of home-based service per week. We can see a difference in him already from the month of therapy he has completed, and that was just 4.5 hours per week, so I am hopeful.



I spent the better part of two weeks touring every special needs school available to us, observing classrooms, interviewing staff. It was too much. To see kids with the deck so stacked against them at such a young age. It was just too much. I keep coming right to the edge of falling apart, the tears come and I am able to pull it back again.



I can't seem to make a decision. Keep him at his mainstream school or put him in a special needs school. Separate the twins or keep them together. Keep him where he is until June and transition in September or transition when he's eligible in January. Send him to this school or send him to that school. There are so many decisions and all of them feel like they weigh a thousand pounds.



I am not making these decisions alone, but with all that has transpired with Joe and I up until now this process with Ry has been that much harder. Going through this all without feeling like you have a partner to go through it with. I feel like I've lost everything I thought my life would be slowly, then all at once.



And that's the thing about autism. You are mourning a life you've lost. When you stop and you take a breath and you look up from the paperwork and the decisions and the choices and you try to breathe it is almost impossible, because where you are is a million miles from where you wanted to be. My child is here, he is healthy, but his life will be different -- for now, hopefully just for now. And so my life will be different too. Even though I am mourning the life I had planned, no one died. So there's no one lining up at the door to help out or watch your kids so you can take care of yourself. No one organizing a meal calendar or showing up with dinner. It's life as usual with literally everything changing.



We saw the developmental pediatrician again yesterday for a Q&A since Joe missed the appointment the day Ryan was diagnosed. The nurse there who handled our meeting promised us that we're at the bottom and the only way to go is up. I hope she's right, for all of our sakes.

Fr Yousef Marie in Sydney

Last Sunday Fr Yousef Marie, F.SS.R. celebrated Holy Mass in the Church of the Fraternity of Saint Peter in Lewisham, Sydney Australia.



The choir at Maternal Heart of Mary church are really rather good.  Here is an example of them singing the Corsican version of the Tantum Ergo sung during Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

go big or go home Tif ...

well i fear Mr Fall is well and truly here now. tis brass monkeys out there, damp, dreary and gloomy to boot. i have taken to wearing scarves and fingerless gloves inside and as the day progresses and the chills work their way to my bones, the layers keep on getting added. yes it would appear i am back to looking rather bag lady like, my typical Fall/Winter attire...

yesterday whilst on a pottle to the drug store ensconced in overalls topped off with one scarf, two cardigans and a pair of thick woolly socks i could not help but notice there are other much more hardy souls living around here then moi. i saw bare arms and gasp! i saw bare legs... madness i cried to myself, they will catch their death going out like that. just looking upon these 'some may say brave and i say fool hardy' folks made my body temp drop several things that it drops. degrees i am supposing but now i am wondering if there is a more modern day term of such things. after all we have fahrenheit and we have celsius which has had me confused for years. there is inches and there are centimeters, i grew up with a mother living in imperial times, was taught at a school embracing the metric movement and then moved to a country who still talk inches, feet and yards. it can all get a little tricky dicky and so i have my own system which embraces some of the old and some of the new, it works for me however i do realize i am fortunate not to have to worry about it on a daily basis. but thinking about it, now i am a baker no less, recipes! oh now there we go... cups, ounces, pounds, grams

i have no idea what i am rambling on about, why oh why am i here when i so wished to be over there, where i began, in my overalls, surrounded by hardy souls entering the drug store. and so i did, (and so did they) and before i was 3 and a half feet or perhaps nearly a meter into the store, a display unit went "pssst" then when it got my attention it went "look at my pretties, you will look at my pretties, you will see nothing in this store except my pretties" and thus i dutifully forgot what it was i was on a pottle for and immediately made haste to the little cardboard display unit calling my name. where upon i recalled just how every autumn i let things drift till we are in the depth of winter and then, waking up for spring comes around and na dah, zippo, nothing but the odd struggling daffodil my dad planted many moons ago, show their pretty heads in our front yard.


ah ha! not this time around! no sirree! this time i am thinking spring in fall, i will not look out the window and think it too chilly and wet to get out in the yard. i will bravely go where i have never gone before and stride amongst my soon to be hibernating little green friends and i will add here, there and just about everywhere, happy little bulbs of jolly springified goodness. where upon they will slumber soundly, snug and warm under the soil waiting patiently for the first rays of Mr Springy Sunshine to wake them oh so gently and begin their wonderful incredible journey of growth...

i noted upon perusing the little boxes in the little cardboard disply unit that a) never in all my born days of living here have i seen such a variety of pretties, b) they all came from holland therefore leaving no doubt in my mind these little bulbs knew what they were doing and c) they all claimed to be deer proof even the wild tulips! oh happy happy day... deer proof is music to a gardeners ears in these parts. i did note nowhere did they mention pesky squirrel proof but i decided one cannot have everything in life and thus, deer proof is good enough for me. panic ensured as the display unit was not tres large, i feared others would see what i saw and lose their drug store way and end up besides me, a struggle would commence, me in my winter woolies, they in their summer shorts, it could get ugly, it could get into the local newspaper as they really don't have a whole lot to fill their pages and a fight in the local drug store over boxes of bulbs between a summer soul and a bag lady, would surely be front page news in a town such as this. so there was nothing for it, no let me go home and think about it, or perhaps buy 2 boxes and ponder. they had to be mine, all mine, or at least the majority of them mine! i either went big or i went home. 

in the end i did both, i went big and i went home....

a birthday miracle...

dearest Nigella,

please forgive me, however i just had to write, for i am a little giddy, (not batty nor potty but giddy), and that giddiness is down to you in part. for a few days back i turned the spritely old age of 45 and to celebrate such a milestone and miracle, not to mention i was riding high from my 'drop dead' marvelous moment earlier in the week, i felt there was no cake making mountain i could not climb...


and so it came to be, upon the suggestion of my soul sister Debbie, that i try your lovely chocolate olive oil cake recipe for it was free of things which caused my body distress and yet would still feed my sweet craving soul. my adopted auntie came by to help out with the goings on in the kitchen, for she felt if there was a miracle it should be witnessed. a dairy free gluten free cake which other members of the clan could eat and not follow with remarks such as 'cardboard' and other such descriptive wording, was surely a miracle worth witnessing i think you will agree.

and so we sallied forth. i must tell you before my adopted auntie arrived i had carefully measured out all the ingredients into little bowls as i felt this greatly heightened our chances of success for surely with everything measured in bowls we were one step short of having our own telly program and therefore chances of the cake turning out edible were pretty darn high! one thing, just a small thing and i did fret a little but then told myself "fret not Tif"... i swapped out the sugar you suggested for coconut sugar which i have found to be most accepting for the old body. i like to think you would approve and indeed perhaps see it as a little bit of confidence in the baking department on my behalf, after years of lacking it.


well Nigella, well indeedy! not only did the cake come out of the oven smelling and sounding like a cake but it looked hopeful. (no, actually i don't know how a cake sounds but i imagine its sort of like a sigh, a sigh of happy goodness that warms our toes and our souls with its homemade sweetly goodness) and so the cake smelt and sighed in a way which gave us hope.

i am not quite sure if its colour or texture were quite like yours, i have not had a chance to see a close up picture of your own creation and i thought, why worry about such small itty bitty details. 


also why worry there is a small crater line along the top, why indeed... 


a few hours later, my lads of three and my adopted auntie's lad of one arrived back from their fishing trip, and our birthday celebrations began in earnest. the day before i had purchased some vanilla ice-cream for those that can and i purchased some coconut vanilla ice-cream for those that cannot. Oh Nigella, i am delighted to report on all accounts your lovely chocolate olive oil cake was a peachy success! we all came to the conclusion it has an almost fudge like texture, not at all too sweet, the coconut sugar made not a single bit of difference to it being edible or not and according to Our #3 it reminded him of shortbread, a chocolate shortbread no less. and i am delighted to report, the word 'cardboard' did not even come into the conversation


yesterday evening, we finished up the last remaining wedge... zapped in the microwave, dolloped with a bit of coconut vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with slices of banana on top. we ate it late at night, in our pajamas and it reminded me of when i first met you years and years ago. when you would wander late at night down to your fridge (never seeming to be alarmed there was a camera crew in your home way past bedtime) and take out some sweet leftover treat and exclaim it was always the very besty best time to eat pudding or cake and now i know, all these years on, how right you were Nigella!

thanking you most kindly for the chocolate olive oil cake recipe and for making my 45th birthday an even bigger treat than it already was 

your sincerely
Tif  x

Our Lady of Mercy


On the 24th of September we have the Feast to Our Lady of Mercy.  Beautiful and consoling title!  Our Lady and her Son are so great that we cannot possibly designate only one or two days in the liturgical year to Their honour.  Our Lady is Mother of Mercy, Mother of that Supreme and Perfect Mercy which is one with the Eternal Wisdom of God.  Having compassion on our fallen human race which was deserving of everlasting punishment, the move made by God through His Son to Redeem us was principally that of Mercy.


In that marvellous invention of becoming Man in the Virgin’s womb, Mercy became Incarnate and hence another of holy Mary’s glorious titles; ‘Our Lady of Mercy.’  She is full of mercy because the Source of all mercy dwelt within Her, lived with Her and obeyed Her.  As the Lord is with Her and as She is full of grace, so likewise She is also full of mercy and indeed ‘Mother of Mercy.’  This is certain in view of the fact that as Christ was animated by Divine Mercy and we might say, was the personification of Mercy, so His chosen Mother could not but otherwise be animated with the same spirit of mercy and tender commiseration for sinners.


Now as Christ intercedes for us with His Father, so Our Lady’s special office is to intercede for us with Christ.  When She pleads lovingly for mercy upon some soul, Christ Who is as Just as He is Merciful, quickly stoops to hear Her prayer and in order to honour Her, gives His Mother Her request.


Here we may remark the touching scene of the wedding at Canna as recorded in the Gospel.  The fact is that although Christ is Supreme Mercy, yet it often takes a request of intercession from His Mother to show an even greater excess of His Mercy to certain souls.  We have then in Our Lady, a powerful arm to raise us up when we find ourselves in need of grace and forgiveness.


Our Lady of Mercy, Pray for us!

Battleground St Thecla in Ma'loula

Today is the feast of St Thecla, the first woman martyr 
called "apostle and protomartyr among women". 
Just a few hundred miles away from some of us,
her holy tomb has become a war-zone 
over the past three weeks. 
While it is difficult to ascertain exactly who is fighting who, 
who is conspiring against who, 
and who wants what, 
what is clear is that one of the most
 ancient Christian holy places is being menaced.
 It seems now to have been taken back from the rebel forces
and peace seems to have returned. 
The sacred place was guarded during these past weeks
 by a very tenacious group of Orthodox nuns,
 and their Abbess Pelagia,
 obviously a "mulier fortis" even in the face of Al-Quaeda!
The nuns refused to leave the monastery. 

The following images and film clips, often of not very good quality,
 recommend at least to your prayers
 our suffering brothers and sisters in Syria, 
by giving you a flavour of what has been life for those
 living in Ma'loula in the shadow of
 St Thecla's tomb, during September. 
Various nationalistic and political opinions or prejudices are expressed 
which are not the intention or part of this post, 
and simply form part of the background to these events.

Remember them at your Masses today!

 Tourists before the tomb of St Thecla in more peaceful days.

 The Holy Martyr St Thecla, a young noble maiden of Konya,
 heard St Paul's discourse on virginity and became his disciple,
 Her mother and fiancé Thamyris, feared St Paul's injunction
 that "one must fear only one God and live in chastity"
 and their fear ended in an attempt to burn the saint at the stake
 from which she was miraculously saved by the onset of a storm. 
She travelled with St Paul to Antioch of Pisidia. 
There a nobleman named Alexander desired Thecla
 and attempted to take her by force.
 She fought him off, assaulting him in the process, 
and was put on trial for assaulting a nobleman. 
She was sentenced to be devoured by wild beasts, 
but was again saved by a series of miracles when the lions protected her.
St Thecla's Monastery, Ma'loula.

In Ma'loula, where her relics repose, tradition says that while being pursued by soldiers of her father who wished to capture her because of her Christian faith, the saint came upon a mountain, and after praying, the mountain split open and let her escape through. - the name of the village comes from the Aramaic word meaning 'entrance'. It is known as one of three places where Western Aramaic is still spoken.

The village is also the site of the Greek Catholic Monastery of St Sarkis, one of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria. It was built on the site of a pagan temple, and has elements which go back to the fifth to sixth century Byzantine period.

Now for an insight into September, 2013.


The BBC reports the general situation during the occupation of Ma'loula.

Proclaiming the occupation, the insurgents in the convent confronted by the nuns.
All Arabic but the atmosphere gives a sense of the crisis.



Russia Today correspondent reports.
Footage of Syrian Catholic Prioress Mother Agnes-Mariam.

Greek Catholic refugees arriving in Damascus.

Greek Catholic funeral of victims in Ma'loula.
Catholic Patriarch Gregorios Laham officiates.

Govenment forces retake the monastery, Abbess Pelagia speaking - unfortunately no subtitles.

45...

today i am now a wise old age!

my man has taken the day off work to celebrate 
and he is taking me into the big city
to buy woolly tights
and
 to pottle around 
a big old bookstore.

there will not be a kitchen appliance

on the car journey 
we will listen to classical music
and reminisce about the good old days.

the 29 birthdays and years of mine,
which have come and gone
since we first met

we will both wear our rose coloured specs
and


i have no doubt at all

today i will be most happy
and
today i will be muchly thankful

to be turning 45

Apple Picking


September and October are truly the best months to live in Upstate New York. Sweaters, boots, open windows. Perfect sleeping weather. We are trying not to let the crises of late take over our lives. Hard to stay anxious with these little nuggets running around keeping you busy. 















This apple farm had the right idea. They charge you by the person and not by the bag. My kids ate their weight in apples, so we definitely got our money's worth. Ryan picked two apples and then held them the rest of the afternoon. Since his hands were full, he clearly couldn't help pick more apples. Reese pulled apples off the trees, took one bite and threw them. Quality control. And the kid's got a softball pitcher's arm. Lola pulled apples off of the trees and then cried until Joe or I took a bite of the apple therby "starting" it for her. Then she happily munched away. 














The older kids got to ride a tractor with daddy out to the apple orchard and that was just the cat's pajamas. We stood on line for cider donuts for all of ten minutes before finally giving up and going home. I don't understand the draw to those things, but I think they are a New York rite of passage. I wish fall could last an extra month this year. I hope to carve out time to decorate the house this week, maybe the kids are finally old enough to get it this year.

a 'drop dead' miracle...

when i was young and had only just begun, me and my brothers of three did not know shop bought cakes existed. our mother spent an afternoon each week making batches of sweet tasting treats which we would happily devour after school. i do not think she did it from a healthy stand point but more from a keeping her housekeeping budget in check. after all my parents were tres young to have four children and they had to watch where and how the monies were spent. that being said, i do believe my mother's home baked goodness were filled with love and although we probably never said so at the time, it made us feel cared for and nourished our worn out school bodies as well as our souls.


one of my most favourite things was 'drop deads', now to some they maybe a fairy cake, or perhaps a cup cake but to us they were known as drop deads. the story goes, i believe, somewhere way back in our generations there was a dearie, i like to think she was a great great auntie dearie but truth be told, i do not know. she would make her little cakes without measuring ingredients, throwing in things by eye, a true baker i have no doubt. however her clan would cry, "oh no! one day we will just drop dead because of something she happened to throw in there" or along those lines and so it stuck. the little cakes of happiness for generations became known as 'drop deads'


this week i asked my mother if she could send me the recipe as i was fast approaching being very grown up and as i had 2 out the door, 1 on the threshold and 1 with a few years to go, i did feel it was time i found my baking gene (better very late than never ever). this of course has been brought about by paying close attention to everything i put into my body these days, and in turn this has led to paying close attention to what is going into my lads of three as well. my mother kindly supplied the recipe, herewith below


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
drop deads

preheat oven to 350 degrees

6oz of butter
6oz caster sugar 
6oz of self~raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder
3 large eggs

place the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat together until nice and smooth. put into small bun cases in baking tray and place in oven on the middle shelf. 20 mins should be plenty of time for baking but do check a bit before

(if you want to make them chocolate drop deads, add 2 rounded tablespoons of cocoa powder mixed with 4 tablespoons of hot water to the mixture and beat in)

for icing, slowly melt dark chocolate and spoon over the cooled drop deads, allow to set and volia!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

yesterday, i donned my baking cap and set about changing the recipe to be dairy free and not include refined sugar. it was a truly easy switch out. 

* instead of butter i used 'earth balance original spread' (which is vegan, dairy free and free of most things like soy i believe but you would have to check the label)

* instead of caster sugar i used coconut sugar which is a really wonderful alternative to refined sugar, made from the coconut flower buds and actually has some nutritional goodness in it. it does make things more 'bran coloured' but apart from that, having tried a lot of things out there, i would plump for this every time

* added 2 small handfuls of dark chocolate chips

(next time i am thinking i might add a banana to the mixture)

(i am thinking to make them gluten free you could swap out the flour for your own tried and tested alternative)


i think though for me the small miracle was not that my tweaking of the recipe worked and the drop deads came out of the oven smelling and looking just how i hoped they would (which actually really is quite a huge blimen miracle) but the fact that, me, Tif, the non baker, or when i had to be a baker was a crappity crap one, is now finding it not a chore or a 'its doomed before its begun' train of thinking. no, its noting, the more i have practiced (alot), the more i have succeeded (gradually) and the more i have learnt about what i am putting into my body (tough learning), the more i am seeing the positive changes which have come about. that there, is the perhaps the smallest but greatest miracle of them all.


once again, the proof is in the eating and although i must confess my mother's drop deads look way more delicious with their icing on top, and mine look almost bran like because of the coconut sugar, they tasted pretty darn fabby. i am not a true test though, my lads are the true test. our #4 sniffed and asked suspiciously if there was fish in the ingredients (fish being high on the old dinner menu most days now and hence his fears) so i ignored him and turned to our #3, who picked up the cake tin and took a deep breath after which he said "smells just like Ma Bear's cakes" and tucked in... 


right then and there, a higher compliment could not have existed. i made a mental note to keep him in my will for the time being and "yes, why not, of course you can have two" :)

Eleven Months Old







We are officially on the countdown to one and first birthday planning is in full effect. I am so excited to focus on something fun and wonderful, like celebrating her first year of life.



Happy Eleventh Monthday, baby girl. You have brought a joy to my life that I didn't know was possible.

more on Mister Muchly...

i am happy to report several things about Mister Muchly of late. gosh, that sounds like he's the late Mister Muchly, no no no. he is not late in the least getting anyway, he is very muchly still with us and he is not in the great las vegas in the sky for guinea piggies. good... moving on

Mister Muchly has settled into life at mossy shed brilliantly, he, much like myself is a born again classical music lover. when Our #4 is at school and Mister Muchly must spend his time in his penthouse suite with panoramic views he passes the time happily with his own personal radio

relaxing to the sounds of classical notes early this morn
tucking into breakfast, whilst awash with relaxing sounds and noting the changing of the seasons from his high rise apartment
and when Our #4 arrives home, weather permitting he hops around outside for quite the while till its time to come in for tea. after which his favourite time of day begins. telly watching time! he is particularly fond of the food network channel and gets himself in quite the giddy state 'pop~corning' all around the corner couch. 

after an exhausting game of squirrel nutkin, Mister Muchly and Little Olive settle down to the latest episode of  Chopped on the telly
Mister Muchly likes his friend Little Olive very  muchly, and i am happy to report Little Olive likes Mister Muchly too! not in a 'lickity my lips' sort of way but in a 'you are part of the pack so i will not eat you' sort of way. sometimes Mister Muchly gets a little too excited whilst watching the telly and this can result in a game of squirrel nutkin and the big owl situation going on, but thankfully Mister Muchly doesn't have muchly of a tail...

footynote:
i have come to the conclusion little piggies are the most trickiest of critters to photograph, if Mister Muchly isn't hopping all over the place to start with, as soon as he sees the camera, he jolly well makes sure he starts hopping...   

Papa Stronsay makes the news

UPDATE:  The new international version of this video is now available below.

On the day of our most recent professions, STV (Scottish national television) were on Papa Stronsay to film the event.  The video can be seen here.

Very Rev. Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R. being interviewed.


cake~a~baking or making~a~cake...


crunchy on the outside, dense and some may say a little dry on the inside. who would say such a thing! why i
this weekend there was a most definite autumnal feeling in the air. on saturday morn i located my crockpot and set about making a most hearty soup stew thingy from interesting finds in my larder cupboard. spurred on by what looked to be great success heating up in the crockpot (not too orange, more on the reddy side of things), i got all carried away and announced i would be baking a cake. not just any old cake but a dairy free cake, and not just any old dairy free cake but one i had concocted from a regular cake recipe! ah yes indeedy! i was riding high from my crockpot concoction and nothing was going to deter me. 

now of course it was not too long ago that just a normal cake recipe was beyond my means, however trial, patience and determination all played a part in my final mastering of an edible cake. oh and Nigella, she truly played the biggest part of all. i do not go about making lots of different cakes on lots of different days. i had a successful breakthrough of my cake making woes with Nigella's Madeira Cake and that is where i stayed. after a few edible madeira cakes i dabbled a little, i halved the sugar and added chocolate chips to give it a little je ne sais quoi and it worked most marvelously.

however watching my lads of three devour a most deliciously smelling cake in a matter of minutes and i myself cannot participate in the activity, made me into a rather mean spirited cake baker. first off i did not care for the way my lovely cake after hours (well not quite but felt like it) of work, was gone in minutes. secondly, i know i am supposed to bake my cake and then take huge amounts of inner gratitude that my clan loved it enough to eat it so quickly. and although they said their thanks i did not feel they admiration matched the time, effort and love which went into my little cake. thirdly, then i am left with guilt, guilt i am thinking wickedly and resentfully and why can't i just be a Ma Larkin about the whole thing.

so i decided the only way to get over the whole silly cake baking 'might not make anymore because i feeling uppity' situation was to make it so i could enjoy the fruits of my labour along with my lads of three. now of course i could have looked up a dairy free cake and gone about my merry way, but i was attached to our (Nigella and mine's) madeira cake. hence, i found myself riding high from my crockpot hearty soup thingy and thought to myself, surely just a tweak of the recipe and a voila moment will follow. failing that, i would settle for a semi-voila moment...


here's what i did:
1) changed out the cup of sugar to 3/4 cup of coconut sugar
2) changed out the cup of butter (i note it says online 17 tablespoons of butter but in my book it says a cup, perhaps that is the same) to 2/3 cup of canola oil
3) added a hearty 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

after which, i placed my concoction with a flourish into the oven and thought i would drop the cooking time from 1 hour to 55 mins. where upon i went off to tackle the task of shuffling, for plenty of shuffling in the shed needed to be done to accommodate the emptying of Our Gladys

every now and then i peered through the oven door trying to get a glimpse of the goings on. at exactly 55 mins i removed the cake and set it aside to cool whilst eyeing it with in-trepidation. my cake did not look maderia-y in the least, it was a different colour (i suspect the coconut sugar), it was rather crunchy looking (i suspect the lack of butter) and it was rather flatter then i had hoped for (again i suspected everyone or everything except myself). of course i did not fret nor weep at this point because the old saying "proof is in the tasting of the pudding" or something along those lines kept me on the optimistic side

tentatively i sampled a small piece with Our #3. i with my critical eye felt a) it was too dry, b) it was too crusty and c) thank goodness there were chocolate chips to save the day. he with is nearly 18 yr old critical eye (and stomach) felt a) it was not too dry b) it was just the right amount of crunch and c) the dark chocolate chips made for a nice combination with the denseness of the cake.

"aaahaa, chocolate chip!... saviour of the not quite madeira cake" (sung to the theme tune of flash gordon) 

so all in all, was my 'riding high' Madeira Cake tweaked from Nigella's recipe a success? one may well ask. if the fact it got eaten by my lads of three and their buddy Tim on their fishing trip later that day (and no no no, it was not fed to the fish despite what you are thinking) and indeed, chomped on by myself, home alone shuffling, i would count it as a success. would i count it as a voila moment success? ummm, nope... i would count it as a semi~voila moment. next time i will have to change something, do some more tweaking. be it more oil, be it going back to the regular sugar or perhaps be it less baking time. 

in the meantime, whilst i ponder my next tweaking move with Madeira Cake i am daring to spread my cake baking wings and aiming high with this lovely looking beauty. according to my soul sister Debbie, its fail proof, its a party pleaser, its a crowd winner, it is the dairy free chocolate cake to aim high for, when you are nearing the end of your 44th year and you have cause to celebrate...

only time and Tif's cake baking skills will see if that is true


Blessing the Pilgrimage Cross

Many of you will remember our two cycling pilgrims, Sam and Wojciech, who made a pilgrimage by push-bike of over 600 miles finishing on Papa Stronsay a little over a week ago.  While here, they planted a Pilgrimage Cross.  If you missed that story, you can read it here.

The 14th September (on which we held the Religious professions featured in the previous post) was the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (the finding of the True Cross in Jerusalem by St Helena in A.D. 326), and therefore seemed a most apt occasion on which to bless the newly planted Pilgrimage Cross.

From the Rituale Romanum:

 If a cross is to be exposed for public veneration, it should be solemnly blessed.

 Oremus
Rogamus te, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, sempiterne Deus: ut digneris benedicere + hoc lignum Crucis ut sit remedium salutare generi humano...

Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, be pleased to bless + this cross, that it may be a saving help to mankind. Let it be the support of faith, an encouragement to good works, the redemption of souls; and let it be consolation, protection, and a shield against the cruel darts of the enemy; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Oremus
Benedic, + Domine Jesu Christe, hanc Crucem, per quam eripuisti mundum a potestate dæmonum, et superasti Passione tua suggestorem peccati...

Lord Jesus Christ, bless + this cross by which you snatched the world from Satan's grasp, and on which you overcame by your suffering the tempter to sin, who rejoiced in the first man's fall in eating of the forbidden tree. Here it is sprinkled with holy water. May this cross be hallowed in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit; and may all who kneel and pray before this cross in honour of our Lord find health in body and soul; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


After the blessing is completed, each person present genuflects before the newly blessed Cross...

...and venerates it with a kiss, as the sign of our redemption.

STV (Scottish national television station) were also present on the island to film for a news feature.  They also filmed the professions.  Here they are pictured interviewing Very Rev. Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R. following the blessing of the Pilgrimage Cross.  When the video which they made is available, it will be posted on this blog.

Professions

Yesterday, 14th September, we rejoiced as our religious family grew!  Br Gerardo Maria of the Hours, F.SS.R. made his perpetual vows of Religion (Poverty, Chastity and Obedience), consecrating himself to God completely and for the rest of his life.  Br Seelos Maria of the Sign of the Cross, F.SS.R. made his temporary vows of Religion for three years

Br Seelos and Br Gerardo kneel before the Rector Major during the ceremony of Religious profession while he questions them on their determination to enter the Religious life.

 The candidates prostrate themselves while the Veni Creator Spiritus is chanted.  They are covered with the funeral pall which represents death to the world.

 Br Seelos Maria, F.SS.R. pronounces the three vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience for three years before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

 Br Gerardo Maria, F.SS.R. pronounces his three vows for life, adding to them the vow and oath of Perseverance until death.  He Places he places his right hand upon the Holy Gospel as he does so.

 Brother's vows are received by the superior.

 Br Seelos Maria, F.SS.R. receives his Palium.

 After the ceremony both the newly professed sign their certificates of profession upon the altar, completing the sacrifice they have made of their lives to God.



 Br Gerardo with his parents and brother.

Br Seelos with his parents.

We thank Thee, God, for these two courageous young men, ready and willing to dedicate their lives to Thy service.  Do Thou, in Thy mercy, grant them perseverance to the end.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for them.

 

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