Tuesday, December 31, 2019

When every minute is a Golden Hour

By Elizabeth Prata

Aging isn’t easy. I’m entering my 60th year of age. My teeth are crumbling, my joints are aching, arthritis is thriving, my hair is graying, and my eyes are weakening. Yet my faith given by Jesus is growing, the Light is nearer, and the life He sustains is sweeter every day. I’ve had an immensely great year. I choose to overlook the inconveniences and difficulties, and instead praise the providential care of my God, given through my church, my colleagues at work, my friends, and likely His ministering angels.

In photography, the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset are called Golden Hour. It's because the sun's lowness makes its light appear golden and it imbues everything it streams over as gold, too. See:

I'ts so pretty! That is an unfiltered photo. Just stood outside my door and snapped the backyard.

Someday, every minute of our eternal believing lives will be golden hour. In the New Jerusalem, where believers' citizenship is, we see that

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:23).

I choose to view my life on earth as a Golden Hour, and when I get there I won't have to work at seeing it that way, I'll experience that it IS. I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future, no matter how long or short on earth it may be. It's all golden.

Happy New Year 2020.

Monday, December 30, 2019

A sunny warm day

By Elizabeth Prata

I'm still enjoying school break. I'll be back for a Teacher Work Day next Monday. That means no kids but teachers and staff report. So, another week. Thanks goodness. I love being at home.

Meanwhile even the most dedicated hermit must emerge at some point. I had banking to do, errands, and grocery shopping. Onward.

The storm that kept me awake last night blew out the humidity and clouds, and I emerged into a sunny, warm, breezy, clear day! Here is a photo journey of my day

While listening to the radio announcer describe the upcoming festivities for New Year's the Tallapoosa Possum Drop (they only used a live possum once!) I saw this guy ahead of me on the way to the grocery store. I love the southern lifestyle.

 Car wash. Gotta.

The famed Kroger Grocery Store, where I get so MANY good deals. Today I snagged two tubs of cherry tomatoes for 99 cents and a 2lb bag of yellow squash for the same price. A Frugal Cooking essay will be posted soon. See what a bright blue day it is! People were bicycling and walking with short sleeves and shorts on.

Green grass and cows. What's not to love?

Look how green that grass is, just look! This is one of my favorite views, I love the green rolling hill.

Sitting outside under the tree, reading.

Oh I see I have a visitor!

As gorgeous and warm as today is, it IS winter and winter in Georgia means we are blessed with some days like this, and other days of cold rain, which is predicted to end the week. So smell the flowers while you can and enjoy! Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

From TV bingeing to reading, from calm to agitated to calm again

By Elizabeth Prata

Bingeing is OK, for a while. Then it becomes grating. I watched a lot of programs the first few days of school break, wanting to shed my school life completely and lose myself completely in mental vacuity and total sedentariness. I like design shows (like Design(ish) videos, kids' shows (like Inbestigators or Little Lunch), and competitive cooking shows. I found one from Australia on Netflix called Chef's Line that's quiet. I can't stand American cooking competition shows that use thunderous music to infuse the situation with a portentiousness that doesn't exist. I mean, it's not the end of the world if the mushroom doesn't get on the plate. But it's the Flight of the Valkyries every time. Oy.

After a while my mind became disturbed. I had restless dreams and woke up with headaches. In 1985 I had read Jerry Mander's book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, and agreed with it. Yet I persist in watching. At some point too much is too much.

I see that I need to absorb it in small quantities. So I swore off and resumed my beloved activities, reading, puttering around the house, drinking tea, listening to classical music, staying quiet, and monitoring the amount of sensory input I take in.

I'm looking at the calendar and now we are beyond the halfway point in our wonderful Christmas vacation. It's not that we work 365 days but get all these weeks off, it's that my job is only a 190 day a year job. My salary is commensurate with a 190 day work-year. So at Christmas we have two weeks off. Yay! But after the halfway point we get sad. I'm blessed with this time off but looking at what's ahead (the hardest part of the year) it's hard not to get, um, concerned. We treasure and value this time off, but here, principal and noted educator Gerry Brooks nails it. Here is his Countdown to Sadness: sorry it isn't on Youtube yet so I can't embed.


I love being in leggings or sweatpants all day. I love being able to go to the bathroom whenever I want, lol. I love being quiet. I love being with my cat. I take naps, but not as many as I thought I would. When I get good night's sleep and don't eat too many carbs in the afternoon, I stay vertical. But I could if I wanted. I love just being in my cozy apartment and it's all clean and organized.

I'm getting my 2020 Challies Christian Reading Challenge ready, printing out the list and thinking about which books I'll select. I think preparing and anticipating are just as fun as the doing.

I lit a Christmas candle. I have classical music on. I have cat hair all over my shirt from hugging Murray so much. I am writing. There is bird activity outside my door. These things make me feel calm, calm, calm, calm. Current situation here in my corner of the world: calm.

10 minutes later:

I keep hearing Murray make noise in the bathtub (where the litter box is). I hear thump bump thump. So I go to check and he has tossed my brand new, unused but damp bar of soap into the litter box. MURRAYYYYYYY!

Pardon me while I clean the mess and restore my sense of calm. Anybody want a cat?

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Finally completed my tea display accouterments

By Elizabeth Prata

So tomorrow will be a week since I've been off from school. Working 190 days out of 365 certainly has its positives. We have another week to go. I love the mid-year two week break.

One goal I'd had this vacation was to organize my teacup saucers. I've been collecting teapots and bone china teacups for about 4 years now. I have 8 teapots ranging in age from over 100 years to modern. I have 13 cups, ranging in age from 75 years old to 40.

One thing in a small apartment (410sf) is that space is a premium. Having extensive collections of anything presents an organizational and display problem. I also actually use all my teapots, so they need to be accessible. I like beauty and organization, so they need to be smartly displayed.

I struggled with this, not having the display just as I wanted it, until I recently found this display shelving. It can be put together in various ways and slid to accommodate different sized objects.

I love this display, it's perfect for my needs.

As for the cups, they are 95% the way I want them. I used a traditional cup and saucer display rack hung up nearby. But there isn't any further wall space to accommodate two more of these racks on the wall and me being able to reach the top one. Hmmm, what to do.

I had one old and one new shower caddy. Voila! Use what you have.

I say 95% because the shower caddy above has a crooked lower shelf, which displays the two cups crooked. Oh well.

I'd had the matching saucers stacked in fours and fives in the cupboard. But whenever I wanted to use a cup I'd have to hunt for its match, and rustle the saucers in and out hunting for it. This leads to cracking and chipping.

So what to do? I know! A dish rack! Someone gave me an Amazon gift certificate so I bought this rack and installed it under the other shelving I have in my one cupboard for dishes. Now I can see the matching saucer I want and I can just slide it out.

So that's the end of that.

I promised myself I'd read some of the books I need to complete in order to come under the wire to conclude my 2019 Christian Reading Challenge for the year, but I've been vegging out in front of the TV (laptop) streaming stuff and bingeing. I'll have to stop that. It's not productive. And I don't like breaking promises to myself.

I've had a good year. The Lord has been kind to me. If He allows, I'll do the same thing next year as this year: serve the children at my school with the best educational teaching and the most love I can muster, to be a good cat mom, to read and sip tea, and to continue living my quiet life in service to the Lord.

But we urge you, brothers, to excel more and more and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, (1 Thessalonians 4:10-11)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Christmas, mugs, and gumbo

By Elizabeth Prata

Good morning! It's 2:30 am here. I'm up because I was so exhausted when I got home from school Friday that I could not function anymore by 7 pm so I went to bed. Hence, 7 hours later, I woke up. It's OK, I have two weeks off and if/when I get tired later I'll just go take a nap!

Otherwise I do plan to use my time productively. Coffee will help. See my new "weekend mug" that a colleague gave me for Christmas. It says "I just want to be a stay at home cat mom". LOL, perfect, right?

It's supposed to be rainy this weekend which is fine by me. I like to snuggle in, wearing comfy clothes and maybe wrapped in a plush lap blankie, work on my writing ministry, read, and make soup or gumbo. I still do those things if it's sunny and warm out, but feel more guilty about it, lol. If it's raining it all seems to fit.

The it is predicted to warm up to the upper 60s and almost 70 degrees for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! I'm totally OK with that. I spent enough Thanksgivings and Christmases in New England to have experienced the quintessential holiday season with snow and cold and lights and sleds etc to say "Been there, done that." I equally enjoy live oak, green grass, grazing cows, cavorting horses, crowing chickens, rolling pastures and birdsong at Christmas.

See? That's me behind the horse in a one-horse open sleigh.

With Christmas so near, I hope you get to enjoy a day off or a mini-holiday yourself.

Friday, December 20, 2019

I am not an ornamental hermit

By Elizabeth Prata

Ohhh, the light, it burns!

Representation of an ornamental hermit in Germany in the late 18th century. Wikipedia cc
Did you know that there used to be such a 'job' as a garden or ornamental hermit? Wealthy estate owners would design their gardens and also install a small shack, into which they would install an old man. Expected to dress as a druid-like character and walk around looking pensive, for their effort the hermits received the housing and small meals.

This sure is a hilarious weird job I'd learned about, but to me, it defeats the purpose of being a hermit. Solitude, not display, is the key aspect of the job.

This 1973 hermit sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus (start at .48 sec) is funny in that it pokes fun at the very thing that makes a hermit, a hermit- solitude.

Well, for me, as an introvert and someone on the autism spectrum, I need the solitude to recover from the influx of overload I experience every day. Everything hurts, from overly bright lights, temperature, noises, unexpected sounds, alterations in routine, shrill laughter, my clothing, patterns in other people's clothing, faces, the wrong food (mine or others'), missed social signals, ... sigh, it all goes into my brain and my brain translates it to something physical that usually results in a stomach ache or a headache or a feeling of illness or malaise or just general body throbbing. As for my brain, it starts to think more and more slowly and sputters like a candle about to go out.

When I have the opportunity, like now on Christmas break from school, I go into hermit mode. I like my own company. I like the quiet. I like that I can organize my environment to the way I need it to be and that I can control its looks, its temperature, its lighting. I like the quiet. I like it so quiet that I can hear a rumble of thunder ten miles away. I like not seeing faces, as kind and nice as those faces are. I like it so quiet I can hear the cat purring in the next room.

I think the Lord did me a favor by creating me without a sense of smell. I'd likely have way more sensory overloads if I did. As it is it's usually too much.

After school let out I went to the bank and the grocery store. I picked up a sushi plate at the grocery store for supper so I would not have to cook. Some seltzer water accompanies the light meal and I'm satisfied.

So the gas is hissing, the apartment is warming, the cat is eating, (crunch-crunch-crunch), the leggings are on, soft Christmas socks adorn my feet, the oversized sweatshirt falls just right from my shoulders to my hips, the tea is brewing, and Christmas break starts right now.

Merry Christmas friends!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Travel Vignette: Tuscany's Sparkling Coast

By Elizabeth Prata

On and off over the years people occasionally mention that they are aware of my travels, and sometimes comment that I should write about them. From Ecuador to Labrador, Scotland to The Bahamas, oh, the places I've been. Here is a vignette from my Italy travels.


After a leisurely hour and a half drive over the Tuscan hills, we spotted the Tyrrhenian Sea. Sparkling azure, gentle on the eyes, we pulled in to Porto San Stefano under a bright blue sky. Up, up, up we climbed the small clinging roads to Hotel Vittoria in Orbetello. The rooms are spacious if spartan, with the most incredible view of the small fishing village below. A bell is tolling now. I can see from my terrace the gulf, fishing boats returning, the Tuscan mountains across the Bay. Geraniums separate each terrace...shutters painted white dot the hills.

Later, walking the quay, boats bobbing at Mediterranean moors and old photographs on the ancient wall of this town from the 1800 and early 1900s. Walk and amble around, exchange dollars for some lira. A convoy of red, white, and yellow convertible sport Alfa Romeos pass us in the opposite direction. The only white Alfa Romeo has two very black people in it wearing sunglasses. Beautiful colors all around. Poppies grow right up to the railroad tracks.

Weekend plans

By Elizabeth Prata

My Christmas card collection. People do still send cards, which is nice. Who doesn't love getting actual postal mail? I do.

The weather has been cold, as one might expect at any time of year on the US, even the deep south. Yesterday was a 42-degree frigid hard rain, for me, the worst kind of weather. So I had the electric kettle going all day and pots of tea continually. Mmm.

My two week school break is coming Friday and I plan to do several things, one of them being Netflix. I've been enjoying two shows lately, a relief to find something that is interesting AND clean.

One is a British show called The Repair Shop. Expert craftsmen from all over Britain repair heirlooms and antiques in this quiet, gentle program. Grandma's piano stool, grandpa's stopwatch, a daffodil phone... The narrator gives a little history of each item, the craftsmen discuss how best to restore it or talk of the challenges with taking it apart, and show them fixing the item.

It's heartwarming, because the owner, usually a woman, usually cries when she re-appears and sees her precious item restored to its former glory. "Oh, grandma would love this!" or "It brings back such memories of my childhood!" The voice over narration is measured and the music between scenes is gentle. Camera work lovingly lingers on the barn shop and the items under repair, so no quick cuts or jarring movements. Recommended.

Also on Netflix is Virgin River. This show, as I read up on, received little promotion from Netflix, but fans have found it anyway. It is a Netflix original based on the books of the same name by Robyn Carr. It is distinctly Hallmark-esque. The storyline will be familiar to ladies who have seen Chesapeake Shores or Cedar Cove or When Calls the Heart. A woman with a hidden emotional wound moves from big city to small, picturesque town (usually the Pacific NW), meets hunky guy, also with hidden wounds, finds she is a fish out of water, hunky guy guides her in ways of small town, and as she settles in, they develop a relationship over time. Slowly.

It stars Annette O'Toole and Tim Matheson as the secondary characters. Main characters are Alexandra Breckinridge and Martin Henderson. A good show. I've seen 6 episodes of 10 and I have not heard a swear, seen cleavage, or had to fast forward through anything lascivious or untoward. I believe a season 2 filming is already underway.

The rain is tapering off and it's supposed to be sunny, calm, with temps in the mid 50s. Sounds pleasant. I will make some lentil soup, open faced tuna melts, eggplant with penne, and cut up some kiwi and oranges for a fruit salad. Should do me for the week.

Books underway are:

I also pulled from my 'easy reading' shelf at home the Nora Roberts book The Reef. I have not read anything of Roberts, who is considered a decent beach read or airport author. That's what I want, after heavy reading I want something lighter. The blurb goes:

A marine archaeologist and a salvager join forces to search for a legendary treasure in this novel that takes readers to the depths of the Caribbean...

I'm up for anything ocean related so hopefully it will be good. If not, well, the book was only 50 cents so I'm not gonna be tore up about it, as goes the vernacular down south!

I hope you have a marvelous weekend and a nice week ahead. Can you believe Christmas is less than two weeks away? 2020 will be here before you know it.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Food Prep Dec 1-6: The crunchy part of the lasagna

By Elizabeth Prata

We've been blessed by warm temps and sunny skies, making it a bit hard to concentrate on the kitchen! But I persevered and came up with a penne-chicken casserole, roasted rainbow peppers, baked potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, and baked salmon. I'll also make chicken veggie soup for lunches at work.

I'd mentioned that at my favorite vintage store I found a brand new small casserole dish. It's pretty, hadn't been used, thick, and a good size. Today I made penne-chicken casserole to go in it. I didn't make the roux as advised in the recipe which of course would make the whole thing yummy and creamy, because:

I've never been successful making a roux,
I am leery of using lactose free milk in recipes
I'm leery of even the small amount of flour needed to make a roux since I'm gluten-free
I was at the tail end and more than likely ruin the whole dish

So I just poured some chicken broth in it and stuck it in the oven. I used less cheese than called for due to the lactose intolerance thing, just adding some on top and not making layers of it. I'd also added spinach because I had a mountain of spinach to use up and besides, I like spinach. The penne is gluten free penne, corn based. It came out good, see:

I love the crunchy part at the edge. Who doesn't? Every Italian kid ever served a lasagna or a pasta casserole went for the crunchy part.

Massimo Bottura, acknowledged at the world's best chef, was featured on a Netflix anthology documentary of the world's greatest and most innovative chefs. "Chef's Table". His was the first episode in the first volume and I was spoiled after that. His meals were the only ones to ever bring both tears to my eyes and laughter to my lips. His deconstruction of the crunchy part of the Lasagna, called, "The Crunchy Part of the Lasagna," delighted me to no end. He is brilliant.

Anyway, back to my kitchen, utilitarian and clumsy as it is, produced some good looking food for my meals next week.

Baked Salmon (dinners)
Penne-chicken casserole (dinner or side)
Chicken-Veggie Soup (lunches)
Turkey sandwiches (lunches)

Rainbow Peppers (yellow, green, red)
Roasted green beans (can be eaten as is or added to a stir fry with tofu and sweet and sour sauce, or to quinoa I already cooked for a cold salad)
Baked potatoes (as is with milk free sour cream, or made into home fries for a side)
Roasted sweet potatoes (side dish or make eggs N hash and throw in some peppers)

Orange-kiwi fruit salad (dessert/snack)

I also bought peanuts, edamame nuts, and soy nuts for snacks and fiber.

There were some excellent sales going on at the grocery store, digital coupons. It takes some time Thursday night or during my Friday lunch to scour them in the online circular, but the savings can be good. I saved over $8 this grocery trip, but I ended up spending a little more at the outset to do so, that's the downside. For example, buy two 12-pack of seltzers, save 75 cents. I drink a lot of seltzer waters, my new choice for cold beverage, and usually only buy 1 12-pak, but since I regularly drink it and buy it each week, I got two.

Also, gluten free crackers were on sale. Normally massively expensive, they were half off at $1.99. So I bought three boxes.

The hard part about a limited budget is buying when the sales are going on to stock up for later. Making a larger outlay up front is sometimes not doable, but you do save in the long run. To make up for it I am going to try not food shopping next week, halving what I spent this week. We'll see.

Ok, the laundry's done and I have to make sure to go out to the garage and get it before dark. Household chores never end, do thy? I dislike them but to get through I try to make a game out of it and have fun. What do you do to get through the regularly occurring, mundane chores you have to do? :)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Outing trip report: errands accomplished

By Elizabeth Prata

After 5 days, I broke my reclusiveness and my silence by heading out this morning with certain errands to accomplish. Bank. Gas. Dollar Store for hard goods. Grocery store for fresh. Special Store for lampshade and bookends.

The grocery store was a pleasure! Few people were out shopping yet. I went early and the aisles were just devoid of the usual crush of people. The markdowns were being laid out in great quantity. I got several things I was hoping for; spinach, something gluten free (gluten free penne for $1.29!), and some picked roasted chicken. I ambled and meandered and took my time and had a relaxing foray into the land of food.

The Dollar Store was the dollar store. Aisles full of abandoned utility carts clogging the aisles, things in disarray, one clerk languidly hanging around. I got what I needed and left. Later I remembered that I was supposed to get Christmas wrapping paper etc. Sigh, I'll have to go back.

The Special Store was fun. The day is warm and sunny, so driving is a pleasure. Windows open, music on. Browsing around was comfortable, too. The owner had acquired a new estate and the furniture was a delight to view. All walnut bureau, a to-die-for huge farm table, marble topped antique doughboy...ahhh. Nevertheless, onward, I needed only two things: lampshade, bookends.

The lampshades are plentiful so it was only a matter of selecting the size and style I wanted. Uh-oh I forgot to check the style of lamp. There are lampshades called spider harp and needs a finial, lampshades called slip uno with a circle thingie that screws into the base of where the light bulb goes, and lampshades that clip to the light bulb. I don't have a finial for it and the slip uno was the one I had now and wasn't working because it didn't fit and kept flopping over and hitting the hot light bulb. Nope, fire hazard. I guess I can be sure with a clip. Eureka, I found a lampshade that goes on the lamp that way!

It's slightly short but I didn't do too bad eyeballing it and having forgotten to check the lamp for needed hardware! It's my reading lamp.

If you look closely you'll see tape on the coaster. Cats like to fling things off of things
and coasters are a special delight for Murray

I did not find any bookends. My problem was, when I bought the small bookcase and put it in the bedroom, turns out Murray likes to climb on it. He's a weird cat. He likes extra small spaces high up to perch on or even nap. Like this one in the living room:

It would not be long before Murray discerns that the bureau is only a small leap from the bookcase, and I do not want him on the bureau. I've had a pair of sneakers on top of the bookcase to prevent his perching there, but the Nikes are ruining the ambiance. I thought if I got some bookends and put a small array of books there it would do the job and be prettier. Sadly, I could not find any bookends. But the lady helped me look, which was nice. She suggested putting an artful array of books on top, stacked sideways. I'll try that.

Meanwhile, sigh, I found some books.

The Frederick Douglass one is providential, because I'd seen that on one of the Black Friday Sales online and wanted it for myself but withstood the temptation. Mainly the books I buy online are to give away, a book ministry. But this one at the vintage store was in fresh shape and only 50 cents! I added another Thomas Hardy to my classics shelf, and a Nora Roberts and Fannie Flagg to the recreational reading pile for Christmas break. Books were 50 cents.

I came away with another find. A brand new small casserole dish. It was pretty. It's a good size for making casseroles for one.

One of the reasons I don't make casseroles is that the baking dishes I have are huge and I'm stuck eating a LOT of casserole for the week. I don't mind eating a lot of the same thing but by the end of the week it's a stretch to choke down another slice of 4 day old casserole again for another meal. This one is just the right size and it was new, a key factor. I plan to make this recipe tomorrow in it:

Chicken, Cheese, and Penne Pasta Bake

I happen to have some gluten free penne, some chicken, and some cheese! Yay! I am adding the above recipe to the list of things I'll make for Food Prep tomorrow.

Time for a nap, then I'll watch the new movie Pilgrim's Progress for the evening, and read. I hope you are all having a nice Friday afternoon on Black Friday, whatever it is you chose to do!

Travel Vignette: Paris, The City of Light

By Elizabeth Prata

On and off over the years people occasionally mention that they are aware of my travels, and sometimes comment that I should write about them. I've thought about it too. Mainly, the past makes me tired. Yes, I've had wondrous adventures, more than ten women, in fact. But I don't dwell on the past and I dislike memories.

Recently an autistic youtuber began another channel of hers, a new Youtube channel of short video vignettes illustrated by cartoons, and those are very fun to watch and listen to. So, it might be fun for me and others to read some travel vignettes. Here is one from my first day in Paris.

I had traveled to Italy several times, alone, with a friend, and with my husband, and with my husband and father. My husband wanted to go to a place he was interested in, and that was Paris. I was only nominally interested in France, being enamored of Italy and entranced by the British Isles. I was amazed and happily surprised by its beauty and I fell in love with France too.


Flawless flight, surprisingly good meal on board plane. Transfer from the airport was nice to have, really jet lagged. Walk aimlessly, looking at Lipp's, Au Deux Magots, and the Seine! Beautiful river with lots of 'bateau mouches' buzzing up and down the water. Really beautiful.

Manage to get into our room early and after unpacking fall into a grateful sleep.

The shower is hot!! Long one, dress. Husband and I walk the neighborhood. The Brasseries look good, so good. Eclairs, petit fours, breads, and rolls, glistening and all artistic. Warm night...perfect.

Dinner at the famous Lipp's Brasserie. Wonderful! Super ambiance; tile floors. glowing wood. I had salmon caviar and fresh green beans in garlic mustard sauce and a glass of red wine. He had cassoulet. Wow!

Got on the air conditioned tour bus and took us around Paris from 10:00-11:30 pm. It truly IS the "City of Light". English narration extolled the delights of Paris, which included the Arc de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysees, and the Louvre. But this taped narration didn't have to extol much, the city is undeniably gorgeous. All white marble buildings, huge and stately. Thousands of floodlights illuminating the marble so it glows softly. Fountains of blue water lighted from behind with soft lights so the splash of the fountain sprays light in a thousand directions.

But the delight, the highlight, must be the Eiffel Tower. Who would have thought the wrought iron steel could be so beautiful. Orangish lights on every level light every rivet, straight tot he crown ringed with red lights. Grounded solidly to the earth yet soaring up to the sly weightlessly. Truly magnificent.

Our long walk back tot he hotel, 30-40 minutes, was great. Warm air and an illuminated city lay before us. On the way sidestepping other amblers out and about. I stopped at a creperie and strolled the streets of Paris nibbling on a warm apricot crepe and laughing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

By Elizabeth Prata

Thanksgiving is a time for food, fellowship, and celebrations of thanks for all we have and all the Lord has done (if you're Christian). The first Thanksgiving I'm sure was full of tales, laughter, jokes, games, dancing, even drinking, but the main event was the food.

Breaking bread with loved ones is special, it's an intimate act to eat with people. It speaks of love, it speak of peace. It is a moment when you are relaxed and all is in harmony. When you break bread with people over a table, your guard is let down and you are at your most free from disturbance.

At Thanksgiving we eat foods we don't normally eat, since we want to mark the occasion as distinct from weekday dinners or Saturday tailgates and the like. We eat fancier food, food that takes time to prepare and  when it's brought to the table with oohs and ahs.

Growing up my ole ma used to be known for her creamy, smooth mashed potatoes. Also we enjoyed the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Well, everything she cooked was really good. Now that I live alone, I don't cook fancy meals or complicated meals. I look for things I can make in bulk or have only three or four ingredients. I like making soups and stews and roasting veggies, but I don't tend to make casseroles very often. That's why I was excited for Thanksgiving.

I saw "was" because I already had mine. I ate the feast cooked at school, in which the lunch ladies do a spectacular job of making all the things associated with the day: real turkey and gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, rolls, and the like.

Then a few days later we had our church Thanksgiving. The church provided paper goods, the drinks, and the meat: ham and either smoked or roasted turkey. We all brought side dishes and I gorged on wonderful items I don't make myself.

Yum, that's all I can say. The fellowship with the folks I love was so relaxing and lovely, eating over the foods and seasoning our meal with talk of the grace of Jesus.

I'm catching up on reading. I downloaded or saved lots of articles and booklets "to read later". Many times, later never comes, and I forget what I've downloaded. Having time to go through my files on the laptop is like Christmas, renewing my memory of just what all the saved goodies are.

To add to the scene, I brewed some Malaysian peppermint tea and it's in a 100 year old teapot and a 60 year old teacup- Hall's Philadelphia teapot and a Home Laughlin eggshell Georgian cup. I watched a movie earlier, but I got bored with it. Three Guys Named Mike, in which Jane Wyman embarks on a stewardess career (a novelty in 1951 as commercial airlines were new) and meets three guys named Mike. By the end she picks one.

Lots of extended scenes of planes, landings, takeoffs, etc, which I bet the 1951 audience were fascinated with. And of course the meet cute of the 3 Mikes. I watched half then cut to the chase and slid the slider to the end. She picked Mike. Har.

So it's been quiet here. Just me doing some laundry, reading, napping, tea drinking. Nothing new, it's what I always do on school break.

I do plan to go out on Friday. It will have been a week since I grocery shopped and 5 days since I met with humanity in any form. I'll need food, and also head to the Dollar Store for supplies. I buy my  hard goods at the Dollar Store, things like steel wool pads, paper towels, soaps, etc. I buy the fresh at Kroger. I'll also return the book I'd borrowed from the Library, and head to The Special Store.

That is my favorite store of all. Well, of the three I regularly frequent. The ladies buy estates then resell them in their store. You never know what you'll find. The aforementioned teapot and cup came from there. I need a pair of bookends and a lampshade for my reading lamp. The one I have on the reading lamp is too small. The bookends are to go on top of the bookcase I'd gotten there a few months ago from that same store. But Murray likes small spaces and likes to jump on the bookcase, which is only 3 feet high. From there he will soon learn he can jump to the bureau. I don't want him on the bureau. So I'll put some books on the top of the bookcase to prevent the jumping onto and subsequent napping on its top, in feline awkward positions.

It's really funny to see him curled up on a one foot square item, like the hassock or the other small bookcase I have next to the door, where I hang my purse and camera as I come in. Anyway, the bookends will be the barrier. If there are small curtains or sheers at the store I'll pick some of them up too. The curtain at the kitchen window is old and crumbling, and I'm sure full of cooking smells by now.

At Kroger my list will be short and plain. Feasting will be over and I'll go back to regular plain eating, and the grocery list reflects that. Back to reality!

I hope your Thanksgiving Day is wonderful. I am thankful for so many things. I have a great life. The Lord has knitted together a perfect life for me, the way I am and what I need and the job I do...He is kind, our Lord. I love my apartment my job, my church, my cat, my friends, my county, my country, all of it! I'm grateful to Jesus for His regard of this tired, weak, blundering servant.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Run for your lives, turkeys!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Thanksgiving Break

By Elizabeth Prata

Our school system gives its staff and students the week of Thanksgiving off. I love this. By now, as we near the mid-point of the school year (we start school Aug 1), we are tired and ready for a good break. Flu season has begun, as well as sinus season, and kids are dropping like flies. We all need a break from each other and this week we have it.

We can focus on the holiday- our gratitude for the things we have and for our friends and families. Our church is having a meal on Sunday. The church is providing the meat, drinks, and the paper goods, we are bringing the side dishes. From the Google Sheets doc it seems that there will be a good variety of foods from which to select, as we fellowship together in love and gratitude.

Something that visitors and our elders have remarked on is the obvious love and genuine care we have for each other. We have a blessed, God-given unity among us. We are truly thankful for our church, its elders, volunteers, and people, both members and visitors. The dinner should be great.

I see on Twitter that the National Weather Service is advising that a storm is due for northern New England up into Northern Maine, with heavy snow. That is something I do not miss at all. Having moved from southern Maine to northern Georgia, I am thrilled with the weather here. I just went out to check my mailbox and the 64 degree balmy air was so lovely. It's been raining all day but it's a warm rain, the wet leaves glisten as I kick through them, and hear birds still in the trees. Ahhh.

This week I have big plans, but then again, I always do. I don't always reach my goals or have super-duper productivity, but I strive. I want to read the new Grisham book that I got from the library. There are a zillion holds so I won't be able to renew it after 2 weeks. Gotta get it read. I also want to read some of my ongoing books, and at least finish two of them. I want to finish the online course I started, from The Master's Seminary Institute for Church Leadership, on The Reformation. Not much else, just quiet study, reflection, and recoup-ing after the busy school weeks we've had.

Noise bothers me tremendously. School is the only work environment I can really stand, because it's filled with children. It's regulated, too, by a rarely changing schedule, which I enjoy. But the normal noises of the lunch room, the gym, the bells if I'm not expecting them or if I'm near one when it goes off, unexpected slammed doors, the squeak of the chairs, all pierce me to the quick and lodge in my tissues, cells, and marrow until a saturation point is reached I need time to shed that build-up of overload. Hence my hibernation whenever I have a school break.

There's more to my need for solitude but I'm not really ready to delve, just suffice to say that I'm relieved the Lord gave me a work schedule with regular and frequent breaks.

Right now the cat is snoozing on the little blanket I put on the table behind the laptop. The rain and wind have kicked up, I had turmeric-ginger tea poured from my Tetsubin (small, Japanese cast iron pot), and I'm about to watch a movie on Netflix. I've had a good day, the first day of school break. Tomorrow is the church service and supper afterward, and Monday hopefully I'll be making progress on my learning goals. Have a good Sunday everyone.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Food Prep Nov 10-15: Peppers, peppers, peppers, and soup

By Elizabeth Prata

I got lucky and happened to hit the mark-down section in the produce area just right, and came away with a 99-cent bag of red peppers and a 99-cent bag of small variously colored peppers, also a 99-cent papaya.

I'm roasting all the peppers. The colored small peppers will be put into a vegetable soup. The red peppers will become part of a salad I've been enjoying lately: tomato, mushrooms, and Italian dressing. Adding the red peppers will make it like an antipasto. I might get some olives to put in, too.

The veggie soup will have some quinoa in it for the protein, also carrots, celery, and broccoli. Chick peas for fiber.

I obtained a marked-down bag of broccoli slaw, and that will be turned into a stir-fry with tofu and sweet and sour sauce. And that's plenty for the week!

Breakfast: Oatmeal, fried egg on 5" hard taco chip

Lunches: Soup, turkey sandwiches. Fruit: grapes, papaya, banana.

Dinner: salmon with baked potato and broccoli; stir fry, refried bean taco salad with avocado. Scrambled eggs with veggies; thawed lentil burgers I'd put in the freezer at last week's food prep.

Snacks/Dessert: peanuts, pumpkin pie.

As far as I know this is all FODMAP friendly and should present no issues upon consumption!

Have a good week everyone :)

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Saturday Update

By Elizabeth Prata

So far today on this sunny, crisp Fall Saturday, I've written a blog essay, answered email and comments online, did 2 loads of laundry, did the dishes, listened to Francis Schaeffer's "How Then Should We Live" video part 1, listened to Ligonier Q&A with Nathan Bingham and John MacArthur, re-potted my succulents and refreshed the patio area, cut up a papaya and nectarines for the week, had a nap, and I'm about to read the Bible and journal and study for the afternoon. Here is the scene outside-

Happy Saturday in the November chill!

By Elizabeth Prata

Good morning! It's a chilly one here (finally) in north Georgia. Temperatures are below freezing, the day has dawned crisp and bright, and all is well. Fall leaves are still on the trees but are slowly dropping, while the peeking sun is illuminating them, under a blue-blue sky. Here is the scene:

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Happy Saturday!

By Elizabeth Prata

It finally got cold. Overnight temps were in the upper 30s and highs only got to 65. Yay. It was the first day I bundled up in leggings, oversize sweatshirt, socks and threw another blanket on my bed. Winter's here.

I've been on Fall Break from school. I got home Wednesday night after grocery shopping, and closed the door, and here I stayed. Sadly, I woke up last night with a temperature and aches with stomach issues. How can that be? I have not talked with or interacted with anyone since 5:00pm Wednesday, and it's Saturday morning now. Sigh. I'd planned to bundle up and go out and do some errands in the crisp day. But I guess not! I just hope the fever breaks early enough so I can attend church and small group tomorrow.

Being at home, I am using some of the gizmos I've bought over the years. I try not to succumb to impulse buying. I buy what I need and what I think I'll use.  Sometimes I'm wrong, and I don't end up using some of the things I buy as much as I thought I would. Thankfully, those missteps are few. Here are some things I have bought recently that I use every day, and that I LOVE! These two items truly do make life easier for me.

When I got the book Biblical Doctrine, the systematic theology book by John McArthur & Richard Mayhue, it weighed 4 and a half pounds and is over 1000 pages. Heavy to hold up. It is 2.3 inches thick, and it was hard to peer over its thickness to read the top of the page. So I bought this upright book holder from Amazon. The description of the book holder said 'holds law books' which are typically thick and heavy. So, I bought it and it holds both my thick Biblical Doctrine book, also my study Bible, a huge tome in itself, as well as slim little paperbacks like this one. It allows me to be hands free, also, to sip tea or make notes in my journal.

You can adjust the height of the holder to various levels. It folds up flat, is light but well-made, and I store it under the table where I study. I LOVE this gizmo:

blog gizmo

I love tea. During the cold seasons when I get home from school I can't make a pot of tea fast enough. Fortunately, this electric kettle boils a large volume of water fast and it comes out hot. It re-boils it fast too, if I want a refill. It keeps it warm for a while, too, and has an automatic shut off. I've used this gizmo almost every day and I love it. It has not failed me yet. It was not expensive, either.

blog kettle

Ginger turmeric tea, coming up:

blog tea

I tell you truly that my cat has a lot of places he is allowed to lounge. He can go anywhere and everywhere in the apartment except the kitchen counter and the couch. He can go on the bed, chairs, even my table where I read and study. But he chooses this? He loves the little places.

blog murray

Cats are funny!