Archive for November, 2011

From the pen of Hans Christian Andersen, and first published in 1837: The Emperor’s New Suit.

More on Andersen and his many tales here.

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The two Houses of the National Legislature having by a joint resolution expressed their desire that in the present time of public calamity and war a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States as a day of public humiliation and fasting and of prayer to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessing on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace, I have deemed it proper by this proclamation to recommend that Thursday, the 12th of January next, be set apart as a day on which all may have an opportunity of voluntarily offering at the same time in their respective religious assemblies their humble adoration to the Great Sovereign of the Universe, of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance and amendment. They will be invited by the same solemn occasion to call to mind the distinguished favors conferred on the American people in the general health which has been enjoyed, in the abundant fruits of the season, in the progress of the arts instrumental to their comfort, their prosperity, and their security, and in the victories which have so powerfully contributed to the defense and protection of our country, a devout thankfulness for all which ought to be mingled with their supplications to the Beneficent Parent of the Human Race that He would be graciously pleased to pardon all their offenses against Him; to support and animate them in the discharge of their respective duties; to continue to them the precious advantages flowing from political institutions so auspicious to their safety against dangers from abroad, to their tranquillity at home, and to their liberties, civil and religious; and that He would in a special manner preside over the nation in its public councils and constituted authorities, giving wisdom to its measures and success to its arms in maintaining its rights and in overcoming all hostile designs and attempts against it; and, finally, that by inspiring the enemy with dispositions favorable to a just and reasonable peace its blessings may be speedily and happily restores.
Given at the city of Washington, the 16th day of November, 1814, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-eighth.

From Pilgrim Hall Museum.

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Historian Thomas S. Kidd provides some background and perspective on tomorrow’s holiday in the United States.

And just in case you don’t know, technically we shouldn’t be calling the Pilgrims of the Mayflower “Puritans.” Kidd explains:

The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony weren’t the first Europeans to settle in North America, nor were they the first permanent English colonists. But because of our annual celebration of Thanksgiving, and our hazy images of their 1621 meal with Native Americans, the Pilgrims have become the emblematic colonists in America’s national memory. Although modern Thanksgiving has become largely non-religious—focused more on food, family, and football than explicitly thanking God—the Pilgrims’ experience reveals a compelling religious aspect of our country’s roots.

Although people often refer to the Pilgrims as “Puritans,” they technically were English Separatists, Christians who had decided that the state-sponsored Anglican Church was fatally corrupt, and that they should found their own churches. (The Puritans, who would establish Massachusetts in 1630, believed in reforming the Anglican Church from within.) Establishing independent churches, however, was illegal. Under heavy persecution, some Separatists decided to move to Leiden in the Netherlands around the same time that the Virginia Company founded Jamestown in 1607.

The Netherlands offered the Separatists religious liberty, but the Pilgrims also became concerned about the negative influences of living in such a culturally diverse society. So in 1620, 102 settlers sailed to America on board the Mayflower. Their final Old World port was Plymouth, England, which supplied the name for their new settlement in what became southeastern Massachusetts.

Read the rest of the article here.

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This Albert Mohler interview with historian Thomas S. Kidd covers a variety of topics, from The Great Awakening to religious persecution in early America.

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— 1 —

A fairly fresh widow nervously asked me this week if I’d ever forgotten my husband was dead – whether I’d ever started to think about what to buy for him, before remembering he was gone, that sort of thing. Oh, my, yes. Children, if someone close to you dies, there will be times you automatically start to call them on the phone, or set their place at the table, or something like that, or you will just plain wonder from time to time if they’re really dead. It happens. Not to worry. It’s normal. It can be gut wrenching, and freaky, and I remember being terrified during the early days that I’d forget David was dead while talking to someone else, but it’s just one of those everyday difficulties you have to expect while grieving the loss of someone who was very much a part of your life.

— 2 —

The corn that wrapped half our property got harvested this week. I’ll admit to sometimes just standing at the window, soaking up sights I haven’t been able to see for months.

— 3 —

My nephew took his cattle to the butcher this week. It feels funny not to have them around. (He pastured them next door.) It also feels a bit strange to think that I’ll soon be eating meat from a creature I used to say hi to several times a week. It’s not enough to turn me back into a vegetarian, though.

— 4 —

My book sales are still miniscule, but I’ve made just enough in royalties to feel like I could go to the fabric store without going backwards in the bank account. After I bought a couple of yards of denim at half off, the clerk offered me the remaining almost-yard for just over three bucks. ‘End of bolt’ pricing, I think they call it. Oh, yes, I took it. And four yards of a cotton print fabric on sale for $4 a yard. The house is in full press sewing mode right now. If you’ve bought one or more of my books, and see me in new clothes in the near future, take a bow.

— 5 —

To be honest, it’s not really like the book sale money is mine to spend yet. I’m still paying off proof costs, and the cost of bringing in books to put out on consignment at local stores, so am not quite in the black yet. But I’m getting close. And my wardrobe right now is split into ‘worn out’ and ‘just barely too tight.’ (Yes, I’m middle aged. Why do you ask?)

— 6 —

Getting the focus off me for a bit, 40 Days for Life has a matching grant challenge it’s trying to meet before Tuesday. Donate before then, and if they’re not over the top yet, your gift will be doubled.

Well, here, let’s make it official, with what they say in an email: “Make any tax-deductible contribution to 40 Days for Life before midnight next Tuesday, November 22, and your gift — or the annualized amount of your monthly pledge — will be DOUBLED, up to $101,200!”

— 7 —

For Thanksgiving recipes, history, activities, and more, see Mommy Life’s collection of Thanksgiving posts. (You can’t fight the atheist/PC version of the holiday very well if you don’t know the real history, now can you?)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Gerard Nadal writes:

This book addresses one of the burning issues of our day. With prenatal diagnostics leading to the abortions of the less-than-perfect among us, with parents who are frightened into paralysis by these diagnoses and a medical establishment increasingly surrendering to the cowardice of eugenics, over thirty mothers and three fathers of special needs children have stepped forward to share their journeys.

If one is looking for a feel-good easy read, this book isn’t it. This book tells the story of fear, bewilderment, broken hopes and dreams, and the triumph of love in all of its raw and untamed beauty. It is a window into the human soul, into souls that have been forever transformed by children whose needs call forth what love demands most:


For those of us who have known the unspeakable beauty of being loved by another, we know that the love we have experienced has come at a cost to the one who has loved us. They have given us their time, attention; material, spiritual and emotional substance. They have accepted us with our strengths and pursued us in spite of our weaknesses–even because of our weaknesses. They have wrapped us in their love and esteem, and lifted us to heights we never could have attained by our own efforts.

That is the sort of love that flows through this book like a rampaging river, overflowing the banks that would contain it, and flooding the surrounding countryside. It is the sort of love that is desperately sought after in a world desperate for authentic love, and purpose, and meaning.

The stories in this book are the stories a frightened and weary world needs to hear, a world that has bought into the counterfeit culture for so long it mistakes love’s essence–sacrifice–with servility, and fails to see its reciprocity…

Read the whole thing.

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From Not Exactly Dead (MI5 1/2 Series, Book One), available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and through your favorite bricks and mortar store:


He was glad the woman had called ahead. These days it was hard to be coherent before eleven in the morning without at least a half hour’s head start to clear the cobwebs away. And here it was only 5 a.m. Not that an old man could sleep for more than a few hours at a time anyway, so what did it matter, really, what time he got up?

According to his sources, the woman had more than usual on her plate these days. Big, bad stuff, too. He hoped he could help. Living to be ancient ought to count for something, after all.

“And how’s my best protégé this morning?” the gnarled old man asked, over his second cup of coffee, as Zanna Wyatt stepped into the room.

“In need of a cup of coffee,” she said, with a mischievous grin.

The man adjusted his trifocals, and looked more carefully at her. As a matter of fact, she did look in need of some sort of pick me up, despite her flawless dressing and nearly perfect grooming. He waved his hand at the coffeepot. She helped herself.

Zanna sat and looked quietly around the room.

“It’s swept,” the old man assured her, meaning the room had been checked for electronic bugs and other unwelcome presences. Considering her security clearance and the sorts of things they usually discussed, it had to be done before each visit.

“I don’t know if you can help me, but I’m at sea on something,” Zanna said. She slouched in her chair, and ran her hand through her hair. She shook her head as if shaking loose stray thoughts. “Are you on your first cup or your second?” she asked, looking at his coffee.

“Don’t want to waste your time, eh? Good girl.” He laughed. “Second cup. Ask away. I’m as awake as you’ll get me.”

“Do you know Richard Hugh?”

“Name’s familiar,” he fudged.

“Triple-O Five,” she prompted.

“I’ve met him once or twice. Never talked with him, to speak of. What-ever his record is, not much is coming to mind, other than it’s generally favorable.”

“All right. How’s this? You do know the Prime Minister?”

“Yes, fairly well.”

“He comes from the same part of the country as you, doesn’t he?”

“Yes. We’re distant cousins, if that’s of any use.”

“He and Richard Hugh went to school together.”

“Some sort of years-old trouble coming to the surface?”

“No. I’m not heading in that direction. Well, not exactly. Here’s the situation: I think I’ve run into some sort of folklore that’s peculiar to that part of the world, and I don’t understand it.”

The old man grinned. He was rather proud of the things that were peculiar to his shire. The thought of a homogenous world depressed him, for one thing. For another, his birthplace was only one step higher than dirt poor. About all it had to call its own was its unique way of life and its legends. He could brag on those ‘til doomsday, if he could keep an audience.

Zanna started to ask about the grin, but thought better of it. “What’s this about twins being bad luck?” she asked. (more…)

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I finally got around to cutting up and cooking up the pumpkins I got harvested before the hard frost. Inspired by cartons full of mashed pumpkin, I decided to try making a pie (I’m not a seasoned pie maker). Gathering some old cookbooks for inspiration, and not having on hand the ingredients to make any one of the recipes as written, I winged it. Since it turned out pretty good, I’m trying to recall what I put in it. I think the filling went something like this:

1 and 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin

2/3 cup brown sugar (Some recipes call for white sugar, some for brown. I had dried up brown sugar I wanted to use up.)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (One of the recipes I was looking at called for 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, but that sounded like too much for me, so I went with a less spicy recipe.)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (Two of the recipes called for ginger in the same amount as the cinnamon, but I didn’t have ginger, and cinnamon and nutmeg go well together, and I generally use half as much nutmeg as cinnamon when I’m using both.)

1/2 teaspoon salt, I think (The recipes were all over the board on how much salt to use, ranging from 1/8 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon. I think I went with 1/2 teaspoon, as something of a compromise.)

A little over a cup of milk (I used what was on hand: 2 percent milk.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon lemon juice (I think I used a tablespoon. I might have used a different amount. Didn’t use much, in any case.)

A small handful of walnut pieces, broken into quarters or smaller. (One of the recipes suggested 3/4 cup walnuts, but I went with what was left of the walnuts in a half-full jar of mixed nuts. I’m not sure I’d want a whole lot of nuts anyway. Some recipes call for pecans instead of walnuts. Some put the nuts in the filling, others put them on top after the pie is baked. I put these in the filling.)

Two eggs, slightly beaten. (I don’t have any fancy equipment. I used a fork to beat them.)

I think that was it for the filling. I made a pie crust dough, rolled it out, and put it into a ceramic pie pan, put the filling in, put the pie into an oven that had been preheated to 450, baked for somewhere between 12 and 15 minutes at that temp for the sake of the crust, then lowered the heat to 325 for the sake of the filling, and baked until it was supposed to be done, then lowered the temp again to keep cooking it until some of the excess moisture came out. I have no idea how long I cooked it. I just looked now and then through the oven door’s window at it, and when it looked done, I quit. It took a lot longer than the cookbooks predicted, is all I can tell you.

I have enough pumpkin in the freezer for six more pies. I only planted two hills of pumpkin, I got them in late, and therefore didn’t have many to harvest – but after giving some away, I still have enough for six more pies. The seed packet cost me a dollar. I didn’t use all the seed. Yay, gardening.

P.S. For the pie crust, I used a very simple recipe. Mix one cup all-purpose flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut in 1/3 cup vegetable oil. (You can use shortening instead, if you’d like.) Sprinkle in 3 to 4 tablespoons water, tossing lightly with a fork. (When the dough holds together, stop adding water.) Roll out. It didn’t seem like enough dough for the pie pan I was using – I wound up with very thin crust. But it worked.

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