Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Holiday Preview

Riddle: You have a jug of milk, and you need to measure out just one cup. How do you do this if you only have a three-cup measuring container and a five-cup container?

Less than a week ago we were suffering a heat wave.  I played golf on Thursday and came off the course soaked through with perspiration.  I played golf again on Sunday wearing a heavy shirt (temps in the upper forties) and night before last there were hard frost warnings up in the north of our state.  Fall has arrived with breathtaking speed – though it’s supposed to heat up into the eighties in the Twin Cities for summer’s last gasp tomorrow.  It’s almost like the joke about Minnesota is true:  We tell everyone to get their ice houses off the lakes one weekend and the next open the swimming pools.

Many years ago, in a Seasonal Concepts store, I came across the most beautiful Christmas Creche set I'd ever seen. The figures were resin, very detailed, about five inches tall, painted to look like antique wood.  Their costumes were vaguely late Renaissance . I bought Mary, Joseph, the Babe and an angel. The next year I bought some shepherds and sheep. The next year, the Three Kings - on camels and afoot. An Italian company named Fontanini made them. Fontanini was ambitious, they went on to make all of Bethlehem, which I gradually bought - the green grocer and his cart, the rug seller, the baker, the blacksmith, a pilgrim, the innkeeper, musicians, an excited old man holding a lantern, a child leading a reluctant calf, “a multitude of the heavenly host” who hang on thin fishing line. My collection grew and grew. I bought buildings and palm trees, three Roman centurians (one with a scroll I place to question a spread-armed citizen), the goose girl and a whole flock of geese, chickens and a turkey. They filled our living room at Christmas. Then we moved into a smaller place. What to do? I couldn’t part with them, didn’t want to put them permanently into storage.  So I offered them to my church - which was delighted! So now, the first Sunday in Advent, the pieces go on display on tables in the narthex and stay up till Epiphany. And I am still adding to them. When a member of the Fontanini family came through St. Paul, signing a "tour piece," I suggested that since they have the innkeeper,  a serving girl with a platter, and a boy pouring wine into a jug, they should have a customer for the inn. And so guess what the "tour piece" for this year is? http://www.fontaninistore.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Store_Code=FS&Screen=PROD&Category_Code=5inchfigures&Product_Code=65138

The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels is almost here (Sept. 29).  Who eats goose at Michaelmas won’t want for money for a year.  We’ve been doing it as a big pot luck dinner for over thirty years.  We’re not sure if it’s the goose or St. Michael the Archangel, but it’s done well by us – we’re not rich, but we have had very few minor and no major fiscal emergencies.   The one problem is that the price of goose has risen steadily.  Makes me wish I dared clobber one or two of the geese that currently crowd the fairways where I golf.  Canada goose, I understand, are delicious.

Answer:  Fill the three-cup measure and pour it into the five-cup measure.  Fill the three cup measure again and use it to full the five-cup measure to the top.  You will have one cup left in the three-cup measure.


Anonymous said...

Have you considered using the creche as a focal point of a Christmas-themed future mystery? Possibly you could also introduce the son or daughter of Betsy's first husband by a second marriage who needs Betsy's help. Just a thought.

Betty Hechtman said...

I always enjoy your posts. I experienced that heat wave in Chicago. Even with some airconditioning, it was 88 degrees inside.

Linda O. Johnston said...

My husband is just returning from a trip to Ohio, where he had to use a window air conditioner at his mother's house a few days ago but removed it yesterday to put in storm windows to keep the chill out.

Monica Ferris said...

Anonymous, I've thought about it. I even have an idea for a clue based on the fact that when the collection was in our house, I started the Three Kings on camels upstairs at the beginning of Advent, moving them through the house as Advent progressed. They'd arrive in Bethelem Christmas Day and be seen on foot presenting their gifts January 6.

Monica Ferris said...

It's amazing how suddenly the weather can change in the upper midwest! Some of our trees are showing color already, but there is one "peak" weekend of fall color that begins up near the Canadian border and sweeps down the state over a period of four or five weeks.