Saturday, November 25, 2006
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The morning before Thanksgiving, a massive fireball shot into the air in the Danversport neighborhood of Danvers. An explosion at a chemical and ink plant levelled the plant, and destroyed or severely damaged many buildings in the area. The explosion was so intense that it was heard as far away as Maine and Boston's South Shore and Metro West. It registered a .5 on the Richter scale at the Weston Observatory. Despite the early morning time of the explosion, and the fact that there are many houses there, only ten people sustained minor injuries. But 300-400 people have endured this Thanksgiving weekend now homeless, as many houses where shredded by the concrete shrapnel, knocked off foundations, or otherwise severely damaged. A Home for the Deaf in the neighborhood, which houses mostly elderly or otherwise disabled deaf people had to be evacuated. Several businesses in the area are totally destroyed, as well.
I know this area quite well. A friend from my Debate Team days at St. John's Prep grew up in this neighborhood. When I was little, on a hot summer day, when my parents wanted to catch a seabreeze but didn't want to go through the hassle of going to a beach, they would drive to this neighborhood and park late in the afternoon to cool off. My late mother worked in home health care for the elderly, and for many years she took care of a lady who lived just south of this area, next to Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody. About ten years ago, I considered renting an apartment in this neighborhood myself. I grew up and lived for 30 years just under 4 miles west of the impacted area. When I lived in downtown Salem, I was a few miles on the other side of this area. It is only a mile or so from the North Shore Shopping Center, and even closer to the Liberty Tree Mall, both of which I used to know better than my own living room.
Please pray for those displaced by this disaster, and for those whose lives have been disrupted by it and whose homes have been damaged.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
May all enjoy their Thanksgiving. Eat way too much turkey and pumpkin pie, drink too much cider, and save some white meat for me!
"They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; for some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no wante. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter aproached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degree). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they took many, besids venison, &c. Besids they had aboute a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corne to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports.
"William Bradford. "Bradford's History Of Plimoth Plantation." Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., State Printers... 1898. p. 127
"Our Corne did proue well, & God be praysed, we had a good increase of Indian Corne, and our Barly indifferent good, but our Pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sowne, they came vp very well, and blossomed, but the Sunne parched them in the blossome; our harvest being gotten in, our Governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a more speciall manner reioyce together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst vs, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoyt, with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed fiue Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed upon our Governour, and upon the Captaine, and others. And although it be not alwayes so plentifull, as it was at this time with vs, yet by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
E.W., Plymouth, in New England, this 11th of December, 1621. in A RELATION OR Journal of the beginning and proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plimoth in NEW ENGLAND, by certaine English Aduenturers both Merchants and others. LONDON,Printed for John Bellamie,..1622. pp. 60-61.
To Grandfather's house we go.
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through white and drifted snow.
Over the river and through the wood --
Oh, how the wind does blow!It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.
Over the river and through the woods
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,Ting-a-ling-ling!
Hurrah forThanksgiving Day!
Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the groundLike a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river and through the woods,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow --
It is so hard to wait!
Over the river and through the wood --
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for fun!Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And so the Lord be thanket.
May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us.
That we may know Thy way upon earth: Thy salvation in all nations.
Let people confess to Thee, O God: let all people give praise to Thee.
Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for Thou judgest the people with justice, and directest the nations upon earth.
Let the people, O God, confess to Thee: let all the people give praise to Thee:
The earth hath yielded her fruit. May God, our God bless us,
May God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear Him.
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.
May God, in His mercy, through the graces imparted by Our Blessed Lady, grant us reconciliation, peace, harmony, and renewed joy. May He bind up old wounds, help us grow and mature, and always live in the light of the Gospel and in His grace.
God bless you all.
On this Thanksgivng Day, Lord, we Thy people count our blessings, which Thou hast given us. With joyful gratitutude, we raise our voices in praise of the Author of Creation.
We thank Thee for the gifts of life, free will, and good health of both body and mind.
We thank Thee for the bountiful food we eat, the warm clothes we wear, the shelter of our homes, the love and comfort of our families.
We thank Thee for gainful and challenging employment.
We thank thee for a free country, made prosperous by Thy grace and the effective exercise of our free will.
We thank Thee for the rights to earn our bread, speak our minds, elect our leaders, choose our friends, protect our families, and worship Thee.
We thank Thee for those who make our freedom possible: EMTs, doctors and nurses, firemen, policemen, soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, Coast Guardsmen, agents, analysts, and national leaders.
We thank Thee for the sacrifice of so many brave young men who have given the last full measure of devotion, and for all who have served, so that we may live free in this land Thou hast provided for us.
We thank Thee for the gift of Faith which helps us to understand that we shall transcend all difficulties through Thy grace.
We thank thee for Thy Church here on earth, divided as it is, troubled by sin, beset by Satan, yet ultimately triumphant.
Most of all, Lord, we thank Thee for Thy Sacrifice on Calvary, which opened the gates of Heaven to us, giving us the promise of eternal life.
We adore and thank Christ, Oh Christ, and we praise Thee, because by Thy holy cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
The Horkey by Robert Bloomfield
The first Thanksgiving was really just an English Harvest Home celebration, and probably occurred in either late September, or October, when the harvest is all in here in Massachusetts.
The link is to this poem's location at Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group.
"For my part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character....For in truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird withal, a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey is peculiar to ours...he is besides (though a little vain and silly, it is true), a bird of courage who would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guard who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on."
Others, including John Adams, objected that the turkey was notoriously stupid as well.
But the country has settled into a happy compromise.
"May one give us peace in all our states,
The other a piece for all our plates."
The breaking waves dash'd high
On a stern and rock-bound coast,
And the woods against a stormy sky
Their giant branches toss'd;
And the heavy night hung dark,
The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moor'd their bark
On the wild New-England shore.
Not as the conqueror comes,
They, the true-hearted came;
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,
And the trumpet that sings of fame:
Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear;–
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
With their hymns of lofty cheer.
Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard and the sea!
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang
To the anthem of the free.
The ocean-eagle soar'd
From his nest by the white wave's foam;
And the rocking pines of the forest roar'd–
This was their welcome home!
There were men with hoary hair,
Amidst that pilgrim band;–
Why had they come to wither there,
Away from their childhood's land?
There was woman's fearless eye,
Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow serenely high,
And the fiery heart of youth.
What sought they thus afar?
Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?–
They sought a faith's pure shrine!
Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod!
They have left unstain'd what there they found–
Freedom to worship God.
An early 18th century rhyme answers that question.
For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and and parsnips are common supplies;
We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon,
If it was not for pumpkin, we should be undone.
Pumpkin keeps well, and was often dried for use throughout the winter and into the spring. It was not an uncommon thing for Yankee farm families to be subsisting on dried pumpkin, salt pork, fermented cider, and baked beans well into May.
One incident from the Battle of Lexington demonstrates this. The night before the battle, a patrol of British officers and their servants rode down what is now Massachusetts Avenue in East Lexington (with a mission of stationing themselves at likely spots on the road to stop messengers from getting to Concord). They stopped at a house and helped themselves to supper, which was, of course, dried pumpkin, baked beans and brown bread, it being early spring, the meat supply pretty much exhausted, the shad run not having started yet, and the spring crops not available yet. The family was outraged, and reported the incident as a British atrocity of the day.
"But the Huswives manner is to slice them when ripe, and cut them into dice, and to fill a pot with them of two or three Gallons, and stew them upon a gentle fire the whole day, and as they sink, they fill again with fresh Pompions [pumpkins], not putting any liquor to them; and when it is stewed enough, it will look like bak'd Apples; this they Dish, putting Butter to it, and a little Vinegar, (with some Spice, as Ginger, &c) which makes it tart like an Apple, and so serve it up to be eaten with Fish or Flesh. It provokes Urin extreamly and is very windy."
From The Old Farmer's Almanac Colonial Cookbook, 1976
In Massachusetts, sad to say
From Gloucester down to Cape Cod Bay
They feed you 'til you want to die
On mincemeat and pumpkin pie.
Until at last it makes you cry,
"What else is there that I can try?'
They look at you in some surprise
And feed you apple and custard pies.
And this little ditty was written at least a century before Boston Cream Pie came into prominence.
Mmmmmmm. Mince pie. Yummy!
Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.
On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?
Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,--our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!
Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own pumpkin pie!
Mr. Whiting was minister of the Puritan church in Lynn during part of the 1600s.
"Mr. Whiting had a score of apple trees from which he made cyder. And it hath been said yt an Indian once coming to hys house and Mrs. Whiting giving him a drink of ye cyder he did sett down ye pot and smacking his lips say yt Adam and Eve were rightlie damned for eating ye appills in ye garden of Eden, they should have made them into cyder."
Here is some good information for making cider at home safely.
Appetizer Course (though usually served after dinner & before dessert)
Brie With Table Water Crackers
Goose Liver Pate With Club Crackers
Pepperoni & Cheddar Cheese on Rye Rounds
Pickled Watermelon Rind
Tomato Aspic With Horseradish Sauce
Large Roast Turkey or Hotel-Style Turkey Breast
Turkey Gravy (made from the giblets and spicy)
Butternut Squash with Maple Sugar & Cinnamon
Mushrooms In Cream
Nottingham Yam Pudding
Beaten Biscuits With Sage
Buttermilk Biscuits With Cheese
Sally Lunn Bread (great toasted later)
A Basket of Walnuts & Hazelnuts
Date and Nut Bars
Pumpkin Pie With Cointreu Cream
Apple Pie With Cheddar
Mince Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
Pleides Aldebran cigars
Cream Sherry to start
May Wine with the early courses
Beaujolais Noveau with the entree
Eggnog, both for the non-drinkers
Starbuck's Pumpkin spice Coffe with dessert
Vintage Tawney Port (Offley Baro de Forester?) with the cigars
Ranitidine, Alka Seltzer, & Tums
Hint: Many of the recipes for these dishes can be found at Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group. I noted that last year at this time, there were only some 200 recipes over there, now there are more than 500. And I only work on it sporadically!
Recta Ratio The Yahoo Group: Your Source For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Entertaining Needs
Recta Ratio 2 Yahoo Group is also somewhat eclectic, with images of sacred relics, church interiors and exteriors, Celtic Crosses, monstrances, crucifixes, and other topics of interest to me.
Recta Ratio 3 Yahoo Group is entirely devoted to Our Blessed Lady. You will find numerous images of her there. There are 16 albums, arranged by topic or artist.
Recta Ratio 4 Yahoo Group is devoted to the Saints, the Church Triumphant.
Recta Ratio 5 Yahoo Group is made up of images from various illuminated manuscripts, though Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and the Hours of Henry VIII predominate. There is also a nice collection of images from the Office of the Dead from various Books of Hours.
Recta Ratio 6 Yahoo Group, which I just set up, will have memento mori and vanitas images. It is kind of empty in there now, but that will change with time.
But Yahoo has a less restrictive limit on the storage of text items in its groups. And the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group has the links and text items. The other Recta Ratio Groups do not have the text dimension that the original group has.
Those text items include a growing treaury of traditional Catholic prayers, including the complete text of the traditional Office of the Dead, a good selection of Advent Prayers, lyrics to dozens of traditional Catholic hymns, Christmas carols and Irish songs, selections of seasonal prose and poetry, lectures of the late Dr. Russell Kirk, quotations from various persons, and selections form Abbot Gueranger's The Liturgical Year.
But the most popular text items stored in the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group, I have to admit, is the Recipes and Menus section. I have been dabbling in the kitchen now for over 20 years, since my early college days, and I have a lot of enthusiasm for food, particularly at this time of the year. The recipes section has grown along with my waistline. No, thank heavens, I can say it has grown a lot faster than I have. Not that I'm not too far behind, mind you. The recipes section now has over 500 recipes. So if you are still struggling to come up with a menu for your Thanksgiving feast, or want to plan ahead for Christmas Dinner and Christmas baking, you might want to take a stroll through the Files of the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group.
That means you have to join. But the good news is that membership is always 100% free. Afraid that by joining you will be spammed? That isn't a big concern, because I am a very active group owner, and monitor new member applications very closely. Just this morning, I had a request to join from someone, and turned it down, as it looked fishy to me. In fact, I was quite justified, because elsewhere in my email, there was something this same person had posted at another Catholic Yahoo group, and it was spam, promoting some Catholic dating service. But if a clever spammer does get through, the instant I see the spam, they get banished forever to the hinterlands outside the membership of Recta Ratio, where there is only wailing and gnashing of teeth.
So join up and take a stroll around the text files of the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group. Or join any of the groups and meander through their photo albums. My Yahoo Groups are always a work-in-progress, since as I see more things that interest me, I post them.
But I don't think it is too much self-promotion if I say that joining the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group is like getting a free cookbook, one fairly well-organized, and one which contains about 500 recipes. And especially at this time of year, if you are looking to try something different, or want to establish a new food tradition for your family, you might find something there that fits the bill.
Oh, I forgot to mention, there is one thing I ask. Just remember me in your prayers if anything in my files, links, or photo albums interests or appeals.