Montag, 30. November 2015

Adam and All

Advent Concert
Yesterday evening we went to our first Advent concert of the season. Stefan played with his recorder ensemble and with an ad hoc group of five - recorders, gamba, and harpsichord, in a concert of late renaissance English music. It included a couple of sopranos singing good Christian songs with the old music by very competent, well-taught young people. And it was in a church, quite plain, but church nonetheless. This was a school event, for some Conservatory classes. And nobody was offend by God.

Today our Advent person for the Jesse Tree is Adam. After Our Father God, Adam is the father of all humanity, because no human came before him, so he is at the base of the Jesse tree. For better -"in the image of God made He him" - or worse - "in Adam's fall we sinned all" - we are all children of Adam.
For coloring this one I used markers and colored pencils, with accent marks (all those lovely scribbles) in gel pens.

Verses to consider for today:
Genesis 1: 26 - 31
Romans 5: 12 - 19
I Corinthians 15: 22

 The Wood Man Again

This is the wood man in day light. To answer a previous question of his origins, The nearest we can remember is that he probably came from the Zillertal in Austria from a long ago trip there.
The wood man's current domain for Advent. On the floor are quantities of plants - still blooming - to over-winter.

The small tree is decorated with Chrismons of The Names of Jesus, from a Christmas Eve service of many years ago. In connection with the Jesse tree we remember His oft 'used name of the Son of Man.

Sonntag, 29. November 2015

Advent 1 - The Jesse Tree

Meditation for the First Sunday in Advent

Today is the beginning of the Advent season, a time of preparation and repentance and looking forward to Christ's coming. We both remember His first coming, the Holy God incarnated as a little baby, and anticipate His second coming in glory to judge the world and take us to heaven.

In early days this season was treated much like Lent, in that people focused on the repentance aspect of the preparation, to purge the body and mind of worldliness to be ready for Christ's coming to judgment. The liturgical color of purple for repentance reflects this. Fasting, refraining from rich foods and amusements, and confession were a part of these observations. It is intended to be a sober time of reflection. But because each Sunday is a "little Easter" we have a reprieve of sorts from the gloominess of the weekdays.  We speak of the Sundays in Advent, rather than of Advent, as separated from the weekdays. While we limit candles and omit the hallelujahs in Advent, we do use our Advent wreaths to visually signify the passage of time toward our celebration of The Coming.

Another way the Church has long visually noted the Advent season is with the Jesse Tree. This is a depiction of the Incarnational genealogy of Jesus. The Bible is replete with references to the lines of humanity that brought us the Saviour in human form. The Old Testament has numerous family lines, and Jesus's family tree is written in both Matthew 1 and Luke 3 (probably for Mary and Joseph, more on which later, when we come to those figures.). Medieval churches often have frescoes or stained glass windows with Jesse Trees. (Look it up; they are lovely.) They are usually quite abbreviated for space reasons, but show the main figures in the family line. This is what we also will see here for Advent. A written family tree will be forthcoming here.

For Advent we will look at the commendable qualities of these figures, and for the Christmas service will note the very compelling reasons these people need a Saviour.

We start at the beginning. While Jesus had a human family, His Father is God, as is Our Father as we regularly pray. God is the creator of all, including humanity, so He created the human family also for Jesus (who, of course was not created in time, but is eternally begotten of His Father).

First Family
Our first figure is God the Father. God likes families. He is a family, as we note already in Genesis 1: 26. We can't understand the Trinity, but it powerfully depicts the importance of families. As God the Father, He is the progenitor of all things. As Father He is also  provider, protector, and head.

These are good verses to read and ponder about God as our Father and Jesus' Father:

Luke 3: 38
I Peter 1: 2
Psalm 68 and 103
You will likely think of others.

The picture for today shows God's creating hands forming the world and separating the firmaments and light from dark, and seas from land, to prepare for the crown of His creation, Man. Tomorrow we will see that first man, Adam.

Samstag, 28. November 2015

Almost Advent

                      The Saturday before Advent - time to get out the Christmas decorations.

This is half of the mountain that came out of the attic.

Yesterday saw the removal of fall decorations and a little glimpse of the new season, and today we got a big swath done. For us that means garlands with lights and quantities of  ornaments on the garlands, and wreaths.
Helpful sons putting up garlands and lights. Not a Mom job.
Is this a Christmas decoration? No, it is the rest of the huge pumpkin that still needed to be cooked, portioned and frozen.
Garlands and wreath.

A section.
This little angel goes up in the same place every year, on the dining room garland; a piece of my history. It was a gift from a baby sitter (Beth Mitchel, I think, or her sister) from sometime before 1968. It used to have a tiny lantern in hand, which disappeared. a year or two ago. I still treasure the angel.

The rest, that is, the Christmas tree and creche, won't appear until midway through Advent when we get a tree.

Also, it is about time for Advent Calendars or Jesse Trees, as one chooses. I do not have as much done as I had hoped for the Jesse Tree pictures - only one page - but an obliging son went through the rigamarole of getting that much on here as a clickable, printable page (see below). This includes the first four days of the season. I do hope someone will try it and let me know if it works. I am working on this as the basis of our family Christmas Eve service this year. I plan, starting tomorrow, to have a short written accompaniment to each figure, day by day. If all goes well, the rest of the figures will go up all at once shortly.
 (Note that the PDF page will appear upside down when you click on it, but that shouldn't matter for printing. We're trying to get the hang of this process.)

These are the first four figures for the Jesse Tree. They can be colored and cut out and hung. Or if anyone is ambitious, they could be embroidered on fabric or pieced in felt or made in any other creative way one chooses.

Click the link to download printable PDF:

Freitag, 27. November 2015

Our Thanksgiving

From Pam in Oregon-

The day before Thanksgiving is pie making day here and for the last several years the youngest members in the household are responsible for pie so that I can do other menu preparations. My boys have gotten quite proficient at pie making though I still had to be present and give direction.

Peter chose to make a blueberry pie with the berries we grow in the front yard; Sam had a craving for apple pie (I did too) so we dashed up to a local farm stand for some honey crisp apples.

Since pumpkin pie is ubiquitous, I tossed one together before the end of the day.

As for the rest of the menu- we were expecting a total of thirteen people. I prepare all the main dishes some of the sides. Others contribute things also.

We've been eating a lot of brussel sprouts at the holidays the last few years. My favorite way to prepare them is roasting. This time I roasted the sprouts with sweet potato, a little red onion and some fresh cranberries (425 degree oven for twenty minutes). After they were caramelized I drizzled a good balsamic vinegar over just before serving. Delicious!

I also roasted the sweet garden squash this year instead of just making a purée. The stuffing is made with homemade sourdough bread and cornbread, Minnesota wild rice, onions, celery, dried cranberries and lots of herbs. Kris and I talked about throwing in some oysters this year but he didn't get a chance to find some fresh ones. Kris did bring some fine wines, starting us off with the apertif of sparkling rose.

My daughter-in-law made a large batch of delicious rolls. I invited her to also bring any dish that her family has on their traditional menu. She is from Missouri and they eat a lot of southern style food so she brought collard greens prepared with bacon and onion and red pepper. Again, delicious! (The small bowl is some of the roasted brussel sprouts/sweet potatoes.)

My mother contributed the molded cranberry salad (with apples and oranges) that we have eaten at holiday meals for many years.

Every year, a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, our boys participate in a shooting tournament in which the prizes include turkeys, bacon and hams. Peter won a turkey, (Sam won bacon) but it was only 14 pounds, not enough to feed our crowd, so my brother, Randy, barbecued the turkey he won at the shoot so we would have plenty of meat at our meal.

This little guy made our day extra special. It is such a blessing and a joy to have a grandchild in the house for Thanksgiving. Our other five grandchildren were dearly missed. Maybe someday we can all be together.

And here is the thankful clan, ready to dig in. I think this is the smallest number we have had in the last several years. (By the way, the girls made the center arrangement and set the table. The flowers were brought by Seth, after he asked me what he could contribute, and I arranged them.)

We always eat our big meal early in the afternoon so that there will be enough daylight left for an all-important and much anticipated family tradition- the Thanksgiving day shoot.

We play a game called "Annie Oakley" where the good shooters knock out the not-so-good shooters. And since President Obama asked that Americans talk about gun control, we did that. Everyone practiced gun control and held their guns with both hands.

I came in second in two games, losing once to son Neal, and the other time to son Peter.

When we headed down the hill from the shooting range, I took this shot of our mountain against the twilight sky.

Dessert always follows shooting. In addition to the pie I made this pumpkin mousse. I had made it the previous week for a dinner with visiting cousins; it was so good, it required an encore. It was by far more popular than pie! Are people getting tired of pie? No problem. More for me. You can find the recipe for the mousse here. I highly recommend giving it a try.

And always, after dessert and nibbling at leftovers, comes the ubiquitous card games.

It was a good day!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Donnerstag, 26. November 2015

Three Pies Plus

So, extemporaneous mostly worked today. We had our Thanksgiving celebration and the pies got made and Thanks were given all around. I mentioned three kinds of pie yesterday, but one unnamed person didn't like any of those so got his own kind, Mud Pie. That is not as bad as it sounds; I did not throw goopy dirt at him; I made a goopy chocolate mini pie for him. Behold pies.

The Menu: 
Roast Duck with sauce (it was delicious)
Turkey breast with marinade and bacon
Bread and apple stuffing with herbs
Mashed Potatoes with bacon, onion, herbs, and cream (Stefan's creation)
Green beans
Caramelized Chestnuts (Thom's favorite part of the meal)
Vegetable platter with carrots and cream-stuffed tomatoes and Nüsslisalat
Two fruit punches (made by the boys)
Apple pie with Pecan Streusel
Pumpkin pies (various sizes, with and without pecans)
Pecan pie
Chocolate Mud pie
all with whipped cream

The family photo will come via e-mail.

Many Thanksgiving Blessings to all. I look forward to seeing your creative tables and menus.

Mittwoch, 25. November 2015

No Pie

The day before Thanksgiving one should be making pie, at the very least. I did not. Not because we don't plan to celebrate Thanksgiving here - we do so plan, and not because we don't have a turkey. (Sigmund couldn't find one, but we do have a duck and a turkey breast, which will do nicely.) I was not preparing for tomorrow because today I was concentrating on teeth. One got pulled. Unplanned. Yes, ouch. So tomorrow will be extemporaneous.

I did finally get started on initial sketches for the Jesse Tree project. I hope to be able to get that posted here before the start of Advent.

May I request again that you take pictures of your feast and festivities and share them with us. And maybe a recipe or two, and your menu. I think I will be making the duck with an elderberry sauce, and I have requests for three kinds of pies: apple with pecans, pecan classic, and pumpkin with ice cream.
Can one eat any of that with a hole in the mouth? Ruth, I wish you well - yours was worse.

Montag, 23. November 2015

Chardin and...

This morning I saw a few summer flowers had survived the first frost.
Hardy snapdragons

A touch of summer in the snow

Snow blanket.

So I brought them in for a last remembrance of the rapidly closing year and the final days before the holidays.
In the Wood Man's domain.

Today I got another birthday gift - this from Sigmund's parents. Hanni always has it beautifully wrapped.
Hand made paper with embedded fibers, a wool cord, and an embroidered scarf.
On God's blessing all depends.

The contents are always a large (sometimes huge) old art book for my growing collection. This year's was on Chardin. I've always liked his works, especially the simple still lifes. For my thank you card I always do a small drawing or painting based on something in the book. Hanni has a large collection of all the many cards the children and I have made for her and Leo over these many years. This is what I did tonight.
From Chardin's "The Peach Basket" still life. His is more full and larger. (This has a glare on it, despite my efforts to avoid it, but you get the idea. If you look at it from an angle, it seems to be better.) Mine is water media. I'd really like to do this from life, rather than from a book picture, but it was a good exercise.

Sonntag, 22. November 2015

Winter Arrives

We woke to snow this morning. It didn't last long here, but we went to Appenzell and there it was accumulating. With Advent fast approaching, the snow sets the tone.
Singrüeni, front

Singrüeni garden

We stopped to see an exhibition by craftspeople and artists at a fine furniture maker - so much creativity that I thought you might like to see, too.
The furniture makers do marvelous custom work and restorations, speciallizing in inlays of varied woods.

Detail on a closet

Wood figures in Trachten (traditional Appenzell dress), of painted old wood with clay heads

St. Nicholas and Schmutzli going to a typical Appenzell farmhouse-barn by the Säntis (I think) - Maria's mountain . This was meticulously painted with tiny brushes.

Another detailed painting of an actual place in the area.

A young metal worker (not shy about his faith, married with four children, living on an old farm high in the mountains) had his wares out in the snow. He makes paper-cut like designs in heavy steel. This is an outdoor Ofen, to be filled with wood then burnt down like a "Swedish Candle." It has a grill on top for a soup pot or what you wish.
Inside, besides the exhibits, we saw and heard young children in folk dress playing wonderful Appenzell music on traditional instruments. One small boy was using a saw machine to cut out Christmas ornaments. Even smaller boys were manning a table that presented each visitor with a gift to take home:
It is nice to enjoy the creativity of others sometimes, even it requires braving winter roads in the back country.