Cold-Snap Potpourri

Shelter Hotline for web_0

I hope that, wherever you are, you are warm, and safe, and dry.

I’ve been working with much deeper intensity, lately, with Hestia, Goddess of hearth and home.  Byron Ballard often posts about the virtues of “homeliness,” which I associate with Hestia.  Many parts of the U.S. are undergoing a period of extreme cold and some parts are under a heavy snow cover.  Here are a few suggestions for ways to honor Hestia, to pay attention to homeliness.

  •  I can count on one finger the times in my adult life, before this year, when I had ear infections.  But over the past 8 weeks, I’ve had painful infections in first my left, and then my right, ear.  Both times, I called my dr. and got an antibiotic, but it can take 24 hours or so for the antibiotic to “kick in,” and, in the meantime, ear infections can be quite painful.  When the first one hit, I went looking for my old hot water bottle and/or electric heating pad only to be reminded that, once I hit menopause and quit having periods, I’d gotten rid of those two old standbys.  So, for the first ear infection, I sat up all night, regularly running hot water on a wash cloth and holding it to my ear for the few minutes it took for the cloth to cool off.  When the second ear infection hit, I picked up the prescription AND a hot water bottle.  I kind of laughed at myself.  I’m becoming my grandmother.  But that hot water bottle was really good at easing the pain for the 24 hours that it took for the antibiotics to begin to work.  Then, I put it away for a few days until the recent cold snap hit the Magical MidAtlantic.  The other night, even in socks, I couldn’t get my feet warm in my bed.  So I filled the hot water bottle with steaming hot water, put it under the covers next to my feet and simply luxuriated in the wonderful feeling of toasty warm toes.  And, of course, my cats loved it, too.  They now look for the spot, on top of the covers, where they can feel the warmth of the hot water bottle and that’s where they spend the night.  Do you have a similar tool to fight the cold?  A special blanket or sweater?  Spicy food or tea?  A spell?


  •  This time of year, I can almost live on soups.  One of my favorite soups to make is a pistou.  Heat some olive oil in a pan and add chopped celery, fennel (the fennel is important; it gives this soup its earthy, French feel) , carrots, onion, and garlic.  Add thyme, fresh if possible, and two large cans of plum tomatoes (or the equivalent amount from your freezer), salt, & pepper.  After 90 minutes or so, turn off the heat and, as soon as possible, run the mixture through a blender or food processor.

Now, heat more garlic oil in a pan and add chopped celery, fennel, carrots, onion, zucchini, and parsley.  Saute until they are all soft.

Mix the blended liquid with the rest of the vegs.  Stir in two cans of cannellini beans.  If you have some pesto in the freezer, you can add a dollop of pesto onto each bowl of pisto, along with some grated parmesan.

This makes a lot of soup, so you can feed a crowd and/or freeze individual portions for those nights you come in out of the cold and want something filling and warm to eat.

  •  Not everyone is safe, warm, dry, and full of soup, curled around a hot water bottle with purring cats.  Just now, when the weather is at its most extreme, is a good time to program the local hypothermia hotline into your phone so that you can easily alert shelters when you see someone out in the cold.  The number for Washington, D.C. is 311 or (202) 399-7093.  Your local area likely has an easily-Googled number.  You can also write the number on small cards and, rather than cash, give the numbers, along with cotton socks, to homeless people.  Cheap socks, with fuzzy insides, can keep both feet and hands warm and, especially for people standing all day on cold ground, can provide an important extra layer of insulation.


  •  I can’t read too many Xian writers, writing about Xianity.  First, it’s not my religion and I’m not too interested in the minutia of that religion.  And, second, well, over the course of the last half a dozen or so decades, Xianity has become increasingly obnoxious.  (Please.  Save the “No True Scotsman” arguments for someone who may still believe them.)  I used to be able to read David Kirk and the Berrigans, but the sexism just shows through too loudly these days.  But I can still read Dorothy Sayers and Madeline L’engle.  In anticipation of the  release of the Wrinkle in Time movie, I’ve been re-reading a long list  of L’engle, not only her Wrinkle in Time series, but also her Austin Family series and her Crosswicks Journals, which are mostly her essays on Xianity.  Here she is on the responsibility of writing:

It takes courage to open oneself vulnerable to the depths of a book.  The moment I set words down on a page I become responsible for those words.  Letters from readers have forced me to be aware of this responsibility which I wold much rather not know about –  but there it is, and I had better accept it.

~ The Irrational Season, Crosswicks Journals, Book Three.

I think she gets that right.

  • #mrswhatsit is back from warmer climes, tanned, rested, and ready to rumble.  Check this space tomorrow for her latest post.

Picture found here.






5 responses to “Cold-Snap Potpourri

  1. We moved to a house this year that has a pellet stove, which is a new thing for me, and I am learning it and feeling really good about it–very Hestia-inspired. Best wishes to all who are cold and need safe warmth–I hope we all get it and enjoy it.

    • I haven’t heard of pellet stoves; how do they work? I love the idea of coming into presence and honoring Hestia each time you stoke your stove, though.

      • They are stoves like woodstoves, but designed to burn these pellets that look like the kind people use for cat litter sometimes– The idea is that the pellets are condensed for maximum efficiency and least waste, and I love that there is little-no risk of insects being cooked the way can happen with logs. You buy the bags of pellts (40 pounds for six bucks near us) and you can start it easily whenever you want: make sure it is clean, put some pellts in the top, close it, and push the starter button, and it creates a safe spark inside the machine, which you can see into. The house we moved into has one as an insert into a former fireplace, and I am happy they did it–less breeze and chill, better fuel efficiency and better safety feel–no gas or anythign connected to it.

  2. I remember hot water bottles (and there were crocheted and knitted covers for them!) very well – but my grandma in Scotland kept a “stone pig” – a heavy pottery hot water bottle to warm the bed!

    Plus I collect vintage satin coverlets – lovely and warm too! Piled on top of the bed – just right for our old cat!

    Tomorrow we’re dragging out the old wool area rugs from storage closet — to add some warmth to the floor… we had the wood-burning fireplace on too! .

    • Yes, I’ve been wrapping mine in an old t-shirt, but thinking about knitting a cover for it. I’ve never heard of stone pigs, but they sound brilliant. I’m a big believer in covers! I have v. heavy sheets, two waffle blankets, two feather comforters, a stuffed comforter, and a tightly-woven bedccloth on my bed. There’s research that seems to indicate that sleeping under heavy covers is calming and I’ve always found that so.

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