Post 276
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

November 18, 2017

. . . Trust in me. What I have promised will be fulfilled . . . Yes, it will fit with the promise; it will not be discarded/neglected . . . Yes, it is also part of the promised plan . . .

[How come so many people are mean? Why do so many people not care?]

My daughter, many people are careless, and many people lose hope. Many people do not trust in me and many do not follow me. They chose wrongly, but I will forgive those who come back, who turn around and come home – like the prodigal son. As the Father forgave them, the Father in heaven will forgive you.

I love you. Those who come to me — their souls will be healed, for the Father is merciful. Ask, and you shall receive. Come back to the Father, and you will be forgiven. As the Father loves you, he will forgive you.

. . . Do not be afraid, I will keep you safe from dangers.

The Father’s mercy is like falling raindrops; those who want them can take them. If one asks the Father for forgiveness, he will never deny it. Even when you hurt the Father, he will forgive you. Do not be ashamed to come to the Father for forgiveness. Like a father looks upon his child — when he sees his child’s sorrowful (apologetic) eyes, how can he not look upon his child with mercy? When the loving father sees his child truly sorry, how can he turn his back in rejection? The Father is always waiting for his children; he is always ready with open arms. The Father waits patiently for his children. As a shepherd watches his flock, the Father watches his people. All of the sheep are precious to the shepherd, as each of the people are precious to the Father. All of the nations are under his care, as the seas and earth are under his protection. For he controls the winds and the currents. He feeds the birds and the lions. He cares for his people, whom he guards. Regardless of which nation they are from, which empire they are under or what social level they are at, they are his people, his flock – who He loves and created.

Post 275
(A guest post)

15. XI. 2017

Trust in my mercy. It is the door through which all can pass to come to me [and find me]. Hold on to my mercy in times of despair as to a boat in the midst of a shipwreck. Turn to my mercy as a last hope, for my mercy is more powerful than the depths of hell [Satan and all his angels] and whoever trusts [places their trust] in my mercy shall receive their reward [shall find me, shall be saved, shall achieve eternal happiness, heaven]. Do not hesitate to ask favours of my mercy, for if you ask with true faith and it is within the will of God, you shall receive more than you have asked for. Prayers of petition are very pleasing to me and to my Father. What has God [what have I, have we] that he would not give you? What gift has God which has not been shared? What great feast has been held to which you were not invited? What miracle which you did not take part in? Everything I have is yours; everything you have is mine. Everything I am, I have given you. You are my people and I am your God. I have chosen you. Will you not choose me? I have loved you. Will you not love me? I have died for you. Will you not die for me [not only a reference to martyrdom but also to death in general on the way to heaven]?

I have made you man and woman; let this be the only difference among you. There will be no division as in the laws of old, for you are one people, formed in my image and united by the cross. For it is not for one people [nation] I died, but for all. It is at that time that I made Mary your mother, and the mother of all humanity. I came to save my people from their sins and from the enemy. But I also came to save my people scattered throughout the world [the Romans and the gentiles] so that all might have salvation. Take the gift of my Passion, for it is your key to the kingdom, for whatever you ask through me [my merits], the Father will not refuse you [withhold]. Hold my Passion in your heart as the greatest testimony of love. Remember it in its repetition in the Eucharist. Adore me in the Eucharist, especially during the Consecration because you are with me as Mary [is, was] during the crucifixion.

Post 274

Blame It on the Rain:
A Reflection on Why Things Happen the Way They Do

Let’s talk about intention for a moment.

Let’s say Alexander hurts Bartholomew. There are only three possibilities:

1) Alexander intended to hurt Bartholomew,
2) Alexander didn’t care whether or not he hurt Bartholomew, or
3) Alexander did not want to hurt Bartholomew, and it is suffering for both of them.

In the English common law system, Scenario 2 is referred to as negligence, which is a way of saying that you didn’t care when you should have cared.

Scenario 3 is the most interesting, because it explains much of the hurt that occurs in the world. In his infinite wisdom, God allows there to be situations where we hurt each other unintentionally. We are hurt when we realize that we have hurt someone else without meaning to. We feel badly and we suffer, yet our intentions and actions were not culpable. In Scenario 3, there is no sin, and there is no need for guilt.

In Scenario 3, there is, in fact, no personal responsibility.

In our language, and in the modern culture, we have built up a large collection of ways to discuss Scenario 3, but we have also — and here’s the rub — built up a number of ways to discount human behaviour in order to make every situation sound like a Scenario 3.

Do you follow?

We talk about parental failure, as if childhood experiences negate the need to make good choices ever after. We talk about personality disorders, and we talk about insanity. We talk a great deal about not knowing better, and we talk about emotional intelligence. We talk about difficult circumstances, and we talk about peer pressure, and we talk about urges and drives, addiction and overwhelming needs.

Oh, so many lies!

After all, whenever we say that Alexander hurt Bartholomew ‘just because,’ we suggest that God created a world worse than he did. It is true that hurricanes happen, and volcanos erupt, but when it comes to personal interaction, we too often blame chance.

We too often blame chance.

We don’t want to think that Nancy hates Joan, and did it on purpose. We don’t want to admit that the father envies his son. We think it can’t be the case that the bridesmaid despises the bride. We want the happy ending, and we don’t want to dig deeper, but the truth is that so many hurts are there by personal choice.

I say this as a warning. I say this to all of good will, who find that they are hurt, repeatedly, by someone they know, or by someone they love. Yes, the first time was an accident, and you forgave him then. The second time has been explained (also an accident), and you forgave that too. Now you’re on to seventy times seven. Still an accident?

Forgiveness isn’t the issue. You can forgive, but do not say that there is no such thing as personal responsibility, because to say so is to be willfully blind. Understand that although sometimes A hurts B without any intention, there are two other possibilities. A might have wanted to hurt B, or A might not have cared about hurting B. Besides, even when we talk about forgiveness, there’s a world of difference between forgiving someone who didn’t know better (a toddler might not know better) and forgiving someone who is hoping that you suffer because they are envious of you. We might as well describe things properly. What exactly are we forgiving?

When your boss is repeatedly abusive to you, you owe it to truth to consider that it might be deliberate. Why console yourself with, “Oh, he’s just like that,” as if he has very little choice in the matter? You limit your options and your chances of escape.

When the business manager at the local church is incessantly snide with you and everyone else, why dismiss it as “just the way it is,” as if there is no hope for change? You will join all of the other cowards who fail to confront a bully when that is precisely what he needs, for both his good and the good of others.

When your spouse is unfaithful every second year, why console yourself with “his secretary was a flirt,” failing to get to the heart of the matter (he’s a loser)?

I call for a return to personal responsibility. Let’s stop making false excuses for each other and for sub-par behaviour. People are making evil choices, and we enable their evil choices by whitewashing them, by always assuming that there is A Good Explanation, by which we mean, A Good Excuse.

If someone does me wrong on a regular basis, or on a matter of great importance, I will no longer assume that it’s just a misunderstanding, a miscommunication or some type of personality flaw, as I used to habitually do. I will stop and consider the evidence, and I will ask the question, “In his goodness, would God allow this person to hurt me (time and again / on such a key matter), without this person realizing it? Is it possible that this person has made a choice?”

In the midst of a rather unpleasant exchange of emails, someone began one with, “Hell Mena.” Was this just a typo, did she not care, or was it deliberate? In response, I pointed out that reviewing emails prior to sending was a good habit, in order to avoid mistakes such as these. But was it an honest mistake? Guess what I think. There are typos, and then there are ‘typos.’ When confronted, she didn’t apologize or — to her credit — lie about it.

I once observed a woman arrive late to a meeting of her peers. They had been working on a group project for quite a while before she arrived. She walked in and all of her words were right, “Oh, I feel so terrible! I’m so sorry!” She seemed to feel very badly about her delay. However, she was holding a coffee cup from the nearby popular (and busy — as in, wait-in-line-for-a-while) coffee joint. She claimed to be so sorry, but at least part of her lateness was a choice, not an unforseen problem.

My point is that we need to return to consider why things go wrong. They don’t always go wrong ‘just because.’ They don’t always go wrong because people were ‘born like that.’ No. God hasn’t created a world that is filled with as many ‘oopsies’ as you might think.

He has created a world filled with people who have free will. These people often choose wrongly, and then try to hide it with a lie. They want you to believe that it wasn’t their fault and that they’re just so very darn sorry.

Now when things go wrong, I want to know why. I want to know why the graphic designer omitted the names of four key actors (she didn’t scroll down to page 2). Would this have happened to a designer who was trying her best? If yes, then the designer would have suffered along with me. That would be Scenario 3, and it can happen, but does that version mesh with the rest of the facts? No, it does not. So was the designer intentionally messing things up? No, that’s extreme and not consistent with the context. I settle on Scenario 2. I believe that she didn’t care as much as she could have, and the results followed from that. In his goodness, God wouldn’t have allowed a mistake of that magnitude to have happened to someone who was earnestly doing her best on a project so dear to his heart.

God rewards hard work, and he rewards good intentions. He almost invariably prevents damage to worthy projects and undertakings where people are doing their best. Yes, it does sometimes happen that our best efforts do not result in success across the board, and it is typical for people of good will to suffer from the apathy or malevolence of those around them, but entire failure of good undertakings by those who are doing their best is far less frequent than we have come to believe.

Turning to relationships, God preserves relationships where there is a sincere desire, on the part of those involved, to have a strong and loving bond, provided that the context is right. In such situations, problems will be overcome, and misunderstandings can be resolved with some effort. Those who find themselves in failed relationships should not blame fate, destiny, chemistry, biology or God. Choices were made.

Indeed, in every realm, people are quick to place blame on everything that moves. In a bureaucratic setting, blaming becomes so habitual that it is almost tangible. Inaction and failure to produce is blamed on:

(a) other people’s bad behaviour
(b) other people’s inability to cooperate (graciously ‘forgiven’ by the blamer)
(c) intervening holidays or events which reduced the available time to work
(d) inclement weather
(e) personal illness
(f) personal tragedy or difficult situation

Inaction and failure to produce is never blamed on:
(a) personal laziness
(b) personal unwillingness to take chances
(c) personal uncooperativeness and bad attitude

Yet the truth is that you will rarely find full effort in a North American or European bureaucracy. Far too many ‘workers’ are in a state of rest, devoting most of their energy to avoiding work, and scheming to sabotage the efforts of those they consider their enemy. Successes, in this context, are few, and those who are lazy use all of their mental energy and charm in order to claim as much credit as possible for any successes which occur in the organization.

Blessed be the workers who work diligently and earnestly, sharing their talents! Blessed be the managers and supervisors who reward the workers who put in a sincere effort!

What if everyone were paid according to the effort they expended? What if God himself paid the wages, according to effort?

Truly, it is a travesty of justice that so many well-paid workers use all of the talents given to them in order to distort the truth. They distort the reality of who is genuinely working, and they push themselves forward as exemplary workers, when, in truth, they are presenting the work of others as their own.

Worse than this are those who act as mud in the wheels of those who are doing their best. They will betray their organization and everything they purport to serve (even harming their own interests) so long as they can satisfy their spiteful desire to interfere with the success of the one they envy.

For shame! You are the stye in the eye of an organization which should be good!

Blessed be the God above, who sees all, and knows all. He is the one who prevents the envious from being victorious. The enemies of the good will stand by while the good are vindicated, and rewarded for their work.

My point is that the results of human activity are very dependent upon the intentions of the humans involved. God honours human intention, facilitates it, and makes it come to fruition.

God is NOT in the business of thwarting good intentions!!! Hear me, please!

It is evil intention that he thwarts. What is evil in the heart of your neighbour is prevented from affecting your life because God intervenes. Many, if not most, of the evil intentions that others hide in their hearts do not see the light of day because God does not allow their plans to succeed.

God is not perverse, letting good be trampled and evil triumph. If he allows it for a time, he does not allow it to be the final word. It is people who are perverse, wishing harm to the innocent, and hurting those who want nothing but good for them. It is people who celebrate and honour those who do wrong, and who come up with excuses for their own bad conduct and example.

We need to return to an intelligent analysis of why things have gone wrong. We must halt this knee-jerk reaction of finding someone or something to blame. Let’s stop blaming the moon’s gravitational pull. Let’s stop blaming hormones and electromagnetic waves and the fructose in the food. Let’s stop blaming the weather and chance and the curse on the team. It’s ridiculous.

Where things have gone wrong, the problem is generally going to be with the main actors in the situation. There is something that doesn’t add up; there is something about the intentions that you do not know, and that the main actors aren’t telling you. They protest that they care, and that they are entirely innocent, but careful examination will show you that the situation is more complicated than it appears at first. This mother acts as if she’s so sorrowful and so ashamed about her daughter’s wayward behaviour, yet she repeatedly takes centre-stage to tell all the details to anyone who’ll listen. Why? Because she can’t get onto the Dr. Phil show? It doesn’t add up. A loving mother will throw her mantle over the struggles of her daughter, not seek for pity while publicizing the troubles. Indeed, a loving mother will suffer many pains herself before she will expose her own to the disapproval and criticism of others.

Fix the intentions, and the results will follow.

God will honour your good intentions, and he will rearrange the universe to make your good intentions take effect. He is that good. God will support you, because he sees that you love him, and you love your neighbour, and that you want what is good for them.

God has been infinitely patient. People have pretended, generation after generation, that they had nothing to do with all of the evil that just ‘happened’ to materialize. They have blamed each other, the universe or God. They have looked the other way, never accepting responsibility for the evil that they actively intended, and for the evil that they did not care to stop.

Who me? A murderer?

Who me? A thief?

Yes, you.

When the story of human activity is finally and fully told, how surprised we will be to see how many ‘regular folks’ have been involved in such heinous deeds.

So many things that ‘just happened,’ will be revealed as having being planned and intended.

And I look forward to the day, like a little girl looks forward to Christmas morning.

There was a time when I thought that it would be a fearsome thing, to have all of your deeds and thoughts and intentions exposed to the gaze of the world. Now I understand better, and I look forward to the day when all will be revealed.

The truth will be shouted from the mountain-tops, and what was said in the darkness will be heard in the light. What was hidden will be revealed.

So delay no longer. Come clean. Go to confession, and in the dark anonymity of the confessional, admit what you have been refusing to admit or even think about. Begin with the big things and then move to all the things that you try to tell yourself ‘don’t count.’

When you return home, go to “Compose” and begin an email. Admit that it was actually you who started that rumour. Admit that you were the one who scratched your neighbour’s car, and offer to pay. Admit that you were the one who wrote the dreadful review about your friend’s new restaurant, and remove it if you can. Admit that you lied.

Don’t sugar-coat the truth, or minimize your responsibility. It’s truth time, not excuse time.

Click “Send.”

Reward yourself with one perfect cheesie from the bag, and begin your next email or text. By the time you’re done, both your conscience and the bag will be much lighter.

It will be worth it.

Post 273

You Have 3 New Messages: Reflections on Keeping It Real

The problem with falling asleep in a wax museum is that you will look like one of the wax figures that they have of tourists sitting on benches who are also dozing off.

I once fell asleep at Madame Tussauds, a wax museum in London.

That was a while ago, back in the day when they used an apostrophe and wrote it like this: “Madame Tussaud’s.”

I recently learned that there is another Madame Tussauds location in Berlin, where, until early 2016, a wax replica of Hitler was included in the collection. On the day the wax museum opened, an unemployed former policeman ran in and decapitated the wax figure.

You can’t find this vandal’s full name online. It’s just “Frank L.” Apparently, he said that he was protesting the inclusion of Hitler in the wax museum, but I have also read that Frank had made a bet the night before. I’m betting that winning the bet was more important to Frank than making a statement.

I’m not a fan of wax museums, and I’m not a fan of Hitler, but it wasn’t right for Frank to damage property that didn’t belong to him. It’s wrong on several levels. I think of the guard who was injured when Frank charged in, and I think of the ruined work of the wax sculptor who had worked skillfully to make the sculpture, and of the government employees whose time was diverted to deal with the necessary prosecution of Frank when there were other, more pressing matters that deserved attention.

As I dozed off on the bench at the museum, I was suddenly awoken by a woman who had just poked me in the arm, testing to see if I was a real person or a very lifelike wax figure.

As it turns out, I was alive.

She and her fellow musuem-goers were startled, reacting in astonished laughter when I woke up and looked at her.

I bring this incident up because it still happens to me. I receive, from time to time, emails from those who want to see what will happen when they write to me. They say, “just thinking about you and wondering how the heck you are doing?”

(This is an actual quote. After a long time of thinking of me — so she says — that phrasing captured the flavour she wanted, I guess.)

In this case, I responded.

I responded that I’m fine, and that I’m currently up to this and that, and I reciprocated, asking how things were with her.

I’ve never heard from her since.


You see, when people write to you, saying, “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Birthday,” or asking you how you are, they don’t necessarily care about you. Some do care, but some don’t. Do I say something entirely shocking? I do not. The truth is that some are contacting you because they want something for themselves, and not your increased happiness or well-being.

They want:
(a) to see what happens when they write, in order to satisfy their curiosity
(b) to find out something about you, in order to satisfy their curiosity
(c) to feel good about themselves (“I’m a good Christian,” “I never forget a birthday”)

This is why some conversations never make it to round 2.

Though you are the recipient of a holiday greeting or a hey-how-ya-doin’ email, you are nothing more than the canvas that they use to paint a portrait of themselves. You are the mirror that they gaze into, in order that they can better admire their own image.

The proof of this is in what and how they write in the first place, and in what and how they write if you respond.

Sometimes I receive emails where the point isn’t even evident. A good email should have a point. Why send a pointless email? Why send an email which leaves the recipient scratching his head: “Is this supposed to be profound, or funny, or somehow of interest to me?” Why bother? Even spam is better than that; you know what they want you to buy.

Speaking of spam, a while back I got an email from Hollie, who wrote, “Hi Mena!” and then pasted a link to spam.

A future in white-collar crime is certainly not advisable in her case; the poor girl doesn’t even know how to create fake junk mail. (Don’t write the recipient’s name in the text portion, honey.)

Believe me when I say that my current views regarding past behaviour are confirmed by current behaviour.

A good greeting requires good intentions. Yesterday I received a Christmas card from Fr. Brian Inglis and another from Leah. The former was my spiritual director prior to being assigned to Hinton, and the second is a relative.

Both cards were nice, and both achieved their intended result. They were a way of saying, “Hello, I am thinking of you,” and they both provided a few words as a mini-update about their lives.

Sometimes Christmas cards contain updates, and these are fine, provided that one’s intention is good. Think about what you’re trying to do, beyond, “I want to include a newsletter.” WHY do you want to include a newsletter?

Do not send a newsletter to anyone who does not share your joy. Do not send a newsletter to someone who cannot rejoice with you at your successes. If you believe that your sister-in-law is competitive with you, then do NOT include your newsletter, which details your recent activities that turned out well, along with your husband’s promotion and the academic, social, spiritual, artistic and athletic achievements of your children.

Similarly, do not send a newsletter about the difficulties that you are experiencing, unless you believe that the recipient will sympathize with your difficulties.

(And obviously, do not divulge the difficulties experienced by your children or anyone else under your care without very careful consideration. Their struggles, both momentary and long-standing, are not to be used to make your newsletters more interesting. Guard their privacy. Be loyal. Do you want, in a decade or two, your children to tell their friends about the time you escaped from your senior’s facility and stole all the toothpaste from the convenience store?)

The act of sending a newletter or a card is supposed to be an act of community. We send them in order to connect in a way which is pleasing to both the recipient and the sender. The idea here is “with,” as in the Latin “com,” as in “communicate.”

The opposite of this is an ‘at’ situation, where you are just ‘talking at’ someone, to satisfy your own desire to feel a certain way (accomplished, witty, insightful, intelligent, friendly, holy). In this latter case, your intention is wrong, and it would be better for you to do something different. Go to the mall and buy some new socks, say.

In other words, the entire exercise of reaching out to another person deserves reflection, whether it’s a text, an email or a Christmas card. Contacting someone shouldn’t be a cold checkmark on a to-do list, marked as ‘complete’ regardless of outcome. Getting in touch should not be a reflexive and thoughtless action, as if the recipient is nothing more than a figure in a wax museum, there for your own amusement, to be prodded or bothered at your whim.

Greetings can be simple, but they should be meaningful. Questions and comments should be straightforward, so that the the purpose of these are evident to both sender and recipient, and the purpose should be a good one. Apologies should be sincere, and not burdened by excuses and more offense. Requests for favours and help should be made in a direct way as well, without padding and flattery and feigned friendship.

Write, speak and act as you genuinely think and feel; otherwise, remain silent. Let your words and outward actions match your heart. Be genuine. If you speak, let your words reflect who you really are. Don’t be fake, pretending you have concern where you don’t. Don’t be fake, pretending you care where you don’t. Don’t be a wax replica of someone else, no matter how good you think that other person is or was.

Be real! Be the authentic person that God made you to be. You are unique. Rejoice in that.

And if you are blessed with those who care about you, and who haven’t heard from you in a while, send them your nicest Christmas wishes. Christmastide lasts for weeks upon weeks, so you’ve still got plenty of time.

Tell them hello
Tell them what’s new
And if you like
Stick in a photo or two.

I’ll do the same over here. Brace yourselves, family and friends!

Family and friends
So faithful and true
Here comes your card
My greetings to you.

Post 272
(A guest post)

14. XI. 2017

I want you to be my voice. I want you to call out to the nations as I have called out to you. I want you to guide them [my people] as I have guided you. Do not be afraid, I will guide you. I will not let you lead them astray for they are my people, whom I have chosen. I have formed them [everyone] in my hand and in my own image. I have breathed the Holy Spirit into them and have made [caused] their hearts to pulse as the sun. Will I now forsake that which I have made? How can a father look on [upon] his child and not recall that time when, with an untouched [pure] soul, the child lay in the father’s arms trustful and yet unaware that he [the child] was trusting? Remember [be aware], my people, in whom you are trusting! Place your trust in him who cannot fail, who cannot forget, who cannot betray. Place your trust in Him who loves unconditionally. Place your trust in Him who is full of mercy.

Post 271
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

November 17, 2017

. . . I am glad you are here; I have many things to tell you. Do not be afraid. I keep you safe from danger; I keep people safe from dangers that they are unaware of. Trust me; I will lead you. Even when you don’t know the way, I will guide you. Do not fear if you don’t know (the plan), for I do. Trust in me, for I led the people of Israel through the desert; just believe.

. . . A time of peace is coming.

. . . Just have faith in me. Place your trust in me; a father will not disappoint his children when they have placed all of their trust in him. The Father does not deceive his children. Indeed, it is the evil one who leads those astray . . . If you believe, it shall be fulfilled. I will protect you from evil. If you trust, nothing will harm you. The shepherd does not let his flock wander and get eaten by the wolves. As your Father protects you, I will too. I will guard you, and nothing will harm you

. . . I see not only the mountains, but over them, beyond the human eye. As I know (the plan), even if you do not understand, even if you do not know, I know. You will understand. I will lead you. You do not have to know the way, as long as you follow. I make the sunset, I create rainbows, I knew what you wanted before you knew.

. . . Those who work hard will be rewarded.

. . . Those who seek help shall be saved. Come and follow me. I will be with you all the way.

Post 270
(A guest post)

7. XI. 2017

Write this: I will guide you always. Never leave my love. Come to me often [in the Eucharist] and never leave. I will be with you, even to the end of the age. I want to work through you, and you to work in me [through me]. Trust in me, for I have a plan that is beyond this world. Remember this always. If you are ever alone [=lonely], remember that I am near. If ever you are hungry, know that I will be your food. If ever you are lost, I will be your guide. Never be afraid, because I am near. I am nearer than a child in its mother’s womb. I will watch over you, as a shepherd his flock because you are my people. I have chosen you and formed you as my own. You will be my testimony. You will be [the bearers] of my strength and I will lead you. I want you to spread the message of peace because I am coming to reign over you as the Prince of Peace.

I will make my covenant with you . . . Pray to my Sacred Heart and seek comfort within it. The souls who seek protection in my Sacred Heart shall not be turned away. Venerate my heart in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is my gift to humanity. It is also my promise – that I shall come again and walk among you. It is the manifestation of myself as God and as man. It is my gift, that all who hunger may be filled, and all who search may find. It is the fulfillment of my promise to be with you always and it is a reminder of my love. It is my testimony and example to the world because within it are written [enfolded, enshrined, ingrained] all the commandments, just as all the commandments are found in these two: love the Lord your God above all things and love your neighbour as yourself. He who loves the law will love [know, understand] these two, and he who loves these two of my commandments will love the rest. For just as one God made [placed, wrote] the stars in Heaven and then created man, so too does one God write [make] all the commandments and place them in the law.


Post 269

Because November is a Busy Month

I make hot chocolate frequently.

I grab as many mugs as I have takers.

I put one tablespoon of cocoa powder into each mug, followed by two heaping tablespoons of ordinary white sugar.

I add one or two tablespoons of milk, and stir it into a thick paste. My favorite milk these days is carried by Safeway: Natrel Organic Homogenized milk, 3.25% milk fat. It has a nice taste.

Make sure that all the cocoa powder is fully incorporated, because little balls of cocoa powder will taste rather bitter. You can use the back of a spoon to press any renegade cocoa bits against the inside of the mug.

Add enough milk to fill the mug.


Microwave for a couple of minutes.

Remove and stir again.

Taste a spoonful.

Add more sugar.

Microwave for about 30 seconds more.

Add a small handful of mini-marshmallows for those who like them.


Post 268
To Our Lady, who understands everything

November 23 & 24

This is the second anniversary
Of something sweet
The beginning of a new world
That turned some lives
Upside down and right side up
All at the same time.
Jesus, we trust in you.

This is the second anniversary
Of first secrets revealed
Of promises made
And companionship in the darkest hour

Two years filled to the brim
Of the unexpected, the undeserved and the extraordinary
Oh the thoughts of the dog!
The thoughts of the dog

Two years filled to the brim
Of spiritual stuff you couldn’t imagine
Of words you didn’t make up
Like the thoughts of the dog

This is the second anniversary
Of looking at the sky and looking at the sun
And the stars and the clouds and the moon
And wondering when
It would all come true

Oh Jesus, I trust in you!

Post 267

Cutting it Close: A Recipe for October

Having said I’d give you a recipe per month, I can’t let this month end without providing you with one for October. This month has about two hours left in it, where I am. Most of the world is already in November.

This recipe is one of those that has a recipe inside a recipe, but sometimes cooking involves, well, cooking.

So I’ll provide both recipes that I use. Make the first recipe, and then when you read the ingredient list for the main recipe, you’ll say to yourself with satisfaction, “I have that so covered.”

When I make chicken pot pie, the crust that I use is this one from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. In the margin, I have written, “Took me 17 1/2 minutes to get it into fridge.” How me, to write such a thing. I think I wrote it because I was getting lies that it would take me forever, and by actually timing myself and recording my time, I wouldn’t feel like making the crust was an insurmountable obstacle. But anyway, now it will be of service to you. Set your timer and see if you can smoke my time.

All-Butter Double-Crust Pie Dough

MAKES enough for one 9-inch pie

Freezing the butter for 10 to 15 minutes is crucial to the flaky texture of this crust. If preparing the dough in a very warm kitchen, refrigerate all of the ingredients before making the dough. If you don’t have a food processor, see Hand Mixing Pie Dough on page 360.

1/3 cup ice water, plus extra as needed
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and frozen for 10 to 15 minutes

1. Mix 1/3 cup of the ice water and sour cream together in a small bowl until combined. Process the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined. Following the photos, scatter the butter pieces over the top and pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of large peas, about 10 pulses.

2. Pour half of the sour cream mixture over the flour mixture and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Repeat with the remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch the dough with your fingers; if the dough feels dry and does not hold together, sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons more ice water over the mixture and pulse until the dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, 3 to 5 pulses.

3. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces. Turn each piece of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Before rolling the dough out, let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

SERVES 6 to 8
PREP TIME: 10 minutes plus time to make pie dough
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes

If using a pie dough topping, be sure to make it first and allow the dough to chill while making the filling. If making a biscuit topping, mix and shape the biscuits after making the filling and just before baking the casserole. The filling must be hot when you top it or the pastry or biscuits will be gummy. For individual pot pies, instead of pouring the filling into a casserole, pour it into heatproof bowls or ramekins and top each with a single portion of pie dough or biscuits.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 ribs celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry [I usually skip this, just because it’s not available at the grocery store]
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth [I use regular, not low-sodium]
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough (page 593) or Cream Biscuits dough (page 515)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven [that’s just a pot with stubby handles on each side] over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the flour. Slowly whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, cream and bay leaves. Simmer until the mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes.

3. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the chicken into the sauce and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

4. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the peas and parsley. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

5. If using the pie dough, roll it out into a 11 by 15-inch rectangle, then drape it over the dish and trim, following the photos on page 357. If using the biscuit dough, cut the dough into eight 3-inch-wide biscuits and lay over the filling, following the photo on page 357.

6. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Now there are 90 minutes left in October 2017. Two months left in 2017. Then there will be two years left in the teens of 2000.

2020. Does that seem like a long way off? Where will you be then? Where will you be on, say, November 2, 2020, the feast of All Souls’ Day?

Tomorrow is All Saints’ Day — for me, anyway. In your part of the world, it has already begun.