reading, book
Thus, at peace with God and the world, the farmer of Grand-Pré
Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline governed his household.

Many a youth, as he knelt in the church and opened his missal,
Fixed his eyes upon her, as the saint of his deepest devotion;
Happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her garment!
Many a suitor came to her door, by the darkness befriended,
And, as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps,
Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of iron;
Or at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village,
Bolder grew, and pressed her hand in the dance as he whispered
Hurried words of love, that seemed a part of the music.

But, among all who came, young Gabriel only was welcome;
Gabriel Lajeunesse, the son of Basil the blacksmith,
Who was a mighty man in the village, and honored of all men;
For, since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations,
Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people.

Basil was Benedict's friend. Their children from earliest childhood
Grew up together as brother and sister; and Father Felician,
Priest and pedagogue both in the village, had taught them their letters
Out of the selfsame book, with the hymns of the church and the plain-song.
But when the hymn was sung, and the daily lesson completed,
Swiftly they hurried away to the forge of Basil the blacksmith.
There at the door they stood, with wondering eyes to behold him
Take in his leathern lap the hoof of the horse as a plaything,
Nailing the shoe in its place; while near him the tire of the cart-wheel
Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of cinders.

Oft on autumnal eves, when without in the gathering darkness
Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through every cranny and crevice,
Warm by the forge within they watched the laboring bellows,
And as its panting ceased, and the sparks expired in the ashes,
Merrily laughed, and said they were nuns going into the chapel.
Oft on sledges in winter, as swift as the swoop of the eagle,
Down the hillside bounding, they glided away o'er the meadow.
Oft in the barns they climbed to the populous nests on the rafters,
Seeking with eager eyes that wondrous stone, which the swallow
Brings from the shore of the sea to restore the sight of its fledglings;
Lucky was he who found that stone in the nest of the swallow!

Thus passed a few swift years, and they no longer were children.
He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning,
Gladdened the earth with its light, and ripened through into action.
She was a woman now, with the heart and hopes of a woman.
"Sunshine of Saint Eulalie" was she called; for that was the sunshine
Which, as the farmers believed, would load their orchards with apples;
She, too, would bring to her husband's house delight and abundance,
Filling it full of love and the ruddy faces of children.

What's Cooking at Aglarond

Cooking, Indian food
alataristarion and maiabee8 may have settled on a name for their house, their "Fortress of Not Solitude": Aglarond.

I am having trouble, however, cooking for the inhabitants of Aglarond, as they are not in the habit of sitting down to dinner, much. But they like the idea of getting Aviva in the habit of a family dinner, and I like the idea of facilitating that. It felt so soothing to cook today!

So. Last week the soup I made was delicious, and bountiful. So bountiful that I cooked nothing else, and we are still eating delicious soup.

Wait, I also baked banana bread. Does that count?

Anyway, here is the menu for this week:

Sunday: Eat out at Schlafly Bottleworks, Paul's treat. I had nothing but a pint of beer and a large serving of sticky toffee pudding for dinner, and that was just right for that day.
Monday: Whole-wheat pasta with spicy tuna and tomato sauce; big green salad.
Tuesday: Eat up the leftovers. We shall defeat the delicious squash and lentil soup! Yes!
Wednesday: Weekly gaming night at Aglarond; I'll be at my knit night and will probably just make myself a sandwich.
Thursday: My brother, Mark, will be in town! Dinner out with Mark, and steadying advice, and hugs.
Friday: Baked chicken; broccoli; roasted potatoes; green salad; challah; pumpkin spice cookies.
Saturday: I will graze on leftovers, or perhaps fix myself some eggs, while the other Aglarondites are out of town for an SCA event.
reading, book
Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas,
Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pré,
Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with him, directing his household,
Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride of the village.

Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters;
Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is covered with snow-flakes;
White as the snow were his locks, and his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves.
Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the wayside,
Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!
Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.

When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noontide
Flagons of home-brewed ale, ah! fair in sooth was the maiden.
Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the bell from its turret
Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hyssop
Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them,
Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and her missal,
Wearing her Norman cap, and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-rings,
Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heirloom,
Handed down from mother to child, through long generations.
But a celestial brightness — a more ethereal beauty —
Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession,
Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her.
When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.

Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer
Stood on the side of a hill commanding the sea; and a shady
Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine wreathing around it.
Rudely carved was the porch, with seats beneath; and a footpath
Led through an orchard wide, and disappeared in the meadow.

Under the sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a penthouse,
Such as the traveller sees in regions remote by the roadside,
Built o'er a box for the poor, or the blessed image of Mary.
Farther down, on the slope of the hill, was the well with its moss-grown
Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it a trough for the horses.

Shielding the house from storms, on the north, were the barns and the farm-yard,
There stood the broad-wheeled wains and the antique ploughs and the harrows;
There were the folds for the sheep; and there, in his feathered seraglio,
Strutted the lordly turkey, and crowed the cock, with the selfsame
Voice that in ages of old had startled the penitent Peter.

Bursting with hay were the barns, themselves a village. In each one
Far o'er the gable projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase,
Under the sheltering eaves, led up to the odorous corn-loft.
There too the dove-cot stood, with its meek and innocent inmates
Murmuring ever of love; while above in the variant breezes
Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.
reading, book
In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas,
Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pré
Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the eastward,
Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number.
Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incessant,
Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood-gates
Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will o'er the meadows.

West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and cornfields
Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain; and away to the northward
Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains
Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic
Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended.

There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village.
Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of chestnut,
Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries.
Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows; and gables projecting
Over the basement below protected and shaded the door-way.

There in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset
Lighted the village street, and gilded the vanes on the chimneys,
Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles
Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden
Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors
Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens.

Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the children
Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them.
Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and maidens,
Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome.
Then came the laborers home from the field, and serenely the sun sank
Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon from the belfry
Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of the village
Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascending,
Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace and contentment.

Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers,—
Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free from
Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics.
Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows;
But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of the owners;
There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.

Becky's note: This last bit makes me cry.
For bbwoof and I dwelt together in love at WinneBagEnd.
We lived there for eight years, free from fear, free from envy.
Neither locks we had to our hopes, nor bars to our sympathy for each other.
We were open as day, open to each other's hearts.
No matter how poor we might be we lived in abundance, generously, giving selflessly to friends.
Giving selflessly to each other.
And now those days are gone, gone as if they were a dream.

Poem of the Month: Evangeline, Preface

reading, book
Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers —
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.

Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.

Nov. 6th, 2013

never give up, patience
A great drawback to self-education is that it frequently leaves you with odd holes in your knowledge inventory.

I thought I knew all the basic financial terminology and understood, intellectually, all about how credit scores were derived and how to save money. But, no, it turns out I had a few odd holes here and there.

I've just spent an hour going through this consumer financial literacy site, Call Better Money Habits and designed by Khan Academy. Much of the information is very basic; but since it is presented pleasantly and without condescension, I'm able to stick with it and pick up a few important and previously-unknown nuggets of info. I mean, debt-to-income ratio was not at all what I thought it was!

Sure, Bank of America can be atrocious, but they got the "Better Money Habits" site right.

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What's Cooking

Cooking, Indian food
I keep thinking of things to cook, then realizing that I'm not home and I don't have any capers here. Or smoky Spanish paprika, or a food processor, or a host of other things I had in the snug, cheery, kitchen at Winnebagend. My Woof used to mock-complain about the colors I'd had it painted, lavender and mint-green. It was just right for me.

So... I don't have the whole week of menus planned yet, here at the home of maiabee8 and alataristarion. I'm just posting what I've got so far:

Sunday: Grazed on leftovers.
Monday: Leftover enchilada casserole (if there's any left by then); tortilla salad made hearty with cheese, avocado, and hardboiled eggs. Squash and lentil soup; chopped kale and blue cheese salad. (Add the meat from the one leftover cooked chicken leg.)
Tuesday: Squash and lentil soup; chopped kale and blue cheese salad. (Add the meat from the one leftover cooked chicken leg.) Leftover enchilada casserole (if there's any left by then); tortilla salad made hearty with cheese, avocado, and hardboiled eggs.
Wednesday: Pasta with tuna tomato sauce (dress up this recipe); broccoli chopped salad.
Thursday:
Friday:
Saturday:

edited to switch Monday and Tuesday

So. I know I also want to make spiced pumpkin cookies, and banana bread, and maybe cranberry oat bars. Probably freeze most of what I make, because nobody here has a sweet tooth. But the idea of baking feels very comforting.

Officially back at LJ

LJ (love it)
I have missed journaling so so so much! This format is good for me to think out loud with feedback from people I respect. And also, the way I used to post in LJ provided some needed structure for me. It might not sound like much, knowing that "Oh, today's Sunday, I have to post my menus. And I should figure out what music video I'll post on Monday, and which poem I'll post on Wednesday" -- but, yes, it made a difference in how well I had my life together.

So I'm back to LJ posting. My budget is very tight right now, but I decided that a paid account was worth it, for the icons. A big part of LJ for me has always been the icons.

Hey, it's almost time to post menus. I better see what my daughter has in the house!

Unhelpful Airlines are Unhelpful

at work
My daughter's friend zephyrofgod was almost stranded in Qatar -- she needed to pay $1500 to get back home, and American Airlines and Qatar Airways are pointing fingers at each other, passing the blame. Frankly, it looks like it really is American's screw-up.

Please read her account of it, and boost the signal.

A Facebook friend who works in customer service for United has told me that it seems to her that it's clearly American Airlines' responsibility to make this right. She says that when the AA desk agent reissued part of the original ticket, they took over control of the entire ticket, all the way to Qatar and back, regardless of whose ticket stock issued it originally. She says AA created the problem because their agent in Chicago dealt only with the outbound flight, and reissued that portion WITHOUT re-protecting the return.

But American Airlines' customer service is giving zephyrofgod the runaround. So, if you feel inclined, you might boost that information, too!

Curried Tuna Salad

at work
I have had a couple of requests for the recipe for tuna salad that Woof liked.
Here it is. Just mix together:

Two cans (7 oz each) tuna, well drained
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Add more mayo if you like a wetter tuna salad. Woof prefers it dry and well-spiced. (I shook a little extra curry and garlic on his portion.) Good on a sandwich, but super yummy served with green onions, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and hardboiled eggs.

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