Saturday, December 30, 2006

My New Favorite Blog to Read

I recently found out that Fr. Stephen Freeman from St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge Tennessee has a blog. He's the priest who chrismated me, along with my whole parish, back in 2002.

Each time I read this blog, my heart is uplifted. It even seems to sing a bit at the words written there. Fr. Stephen has a way of expressing Orthodox spirituality in just the way that I would, only better. Reading his blog is like a window into many of my own ponderings, the things I keep silent about.

Might I recommend Glory to God for All Things ?

Friday, December 29, 2006

In the News

--Rooters:

Members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Plants (PET-P "pet pee") gathered in a protest demonstration at the local Farmer's Market last weekend. Eating nothing but genetically engineered frankenfoods, these pale specimens had pockets bulging with McDonald's wrappers and Hostess desserts, and hips bulging to match. "It's a matter of conscience," one member who asked to remain anonymous, shared. "I mean, it's like, think about all those poor little baby carrots being ripped out of the ground while they are still tender and young! I just can't stand for it!" Others milling about murmured their agreement, while cans of Mountain Dew were passed around and candles were lit as the sun was setting. Demonstration posters sported a horrific images such as that of a little girl clutching a fistful of dandelions with the caption "STOP THE CRUELTY! PET-P FOR PLANTS!" and "PET-P Helps Your Grass Grow Greener!"

At a nearby booth scientific study results were being passed out, although results have yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal. PET-P members advocate only eating hydroponically grown free range plant and grain products. "We are worried about the effects of limiting plant movement. Humans have a bad history of expecting plants to stay in one place," quipped one booth volunteer. Another chimed in that there was a great debate raging among the PET-P scientists as to which was worse: The negative effects of chemical pesticides or the suffering plants undergo from so-called normal insect pest leaf nibbling that may occur in more organic environments.

Members acknowledge the tension that exists between the PET-P organization and other groups such as Organic Farmers Associations, PETA, and local Gardening clubs and retailers with produce departments.

Genetically modified plant products also may appear on the PET-P table. "If it's not got the plant DNA intact, then it's not a plant, and we can eat it without qualms," stated the president of PET-P. "This is about conscience, this is about morality, this is about making the world a better place for the children and the baby carrots. Surely we can find a way to live together in peace."

2006: A Random Overview

fight for morning prayers
counting calories
testing the limits of body and soul
anaphylactic reaction to peanuts
wearing black on Great and Holy Friday
incense in my scarf
just breathing
loading the dishwasher praying the Jesus Prayer
housework without anger
unused epi-pen in my purse
saying goodbye to a priest
saying hello to a priest
watching a friendship die
grieving
trying to be a better daughter
officially Asperger's Syndrome
"wasting" my life on the mystical
bought a cane
U-Boot 505
a sinner and the sacrament of repentance
walking on good days
lonely
blogging
reading good books
reading silly books
silk wedding dress
plans for a baptismal gown made from the scraps
recycling wool
a good Christmas
happy birthdays
home school
lost at the zoo
museum by wheelchair
camping in Kentucky
he job hunts, I pray
writing new songs
open mic night!
a new niece is born
crochet
intentional quiet
farmer's market and my guitar
20 pounds down
food allergies
Sunday School storyteller
perfect sour milk biscuits
wasted love
intercessions
published poem
organic beef and kosher hot dogs
the odd family
Akathist to Jesus, Light to Those in Darkness
St. John the Wonderworker
www.sheldahlconsulting.com
happy marriage
seeking simplicity
balloon hover craft
spelling lists
Summer at the pool
Heimlich maneuver
prayer
"the least of these" in the parking lot
pannera bread drop off
prayers for the inner city
isolated in North Lexington
Third Street Coffee
on and off caffeine
fibromyalgia cycles
late thirties looming
growing kids
sockmonk is the best
Eureka "Barefoot Sally" Pizza
goofy
dying to self

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Joy

It was so good to go to Divine Liturgy and meet Jesus this morning in communion. It was nice to get up before dawn. We all had our clothes laid out the night before, so getting ready was a snap and we were out the door by 7:15. It was still dark while we were driving.

The Nave looked beautiful: garlands of greenery, poinsettias and red and white roses. Our parish flower guy, Brian, invariably does an excellent job.

And my heart somehow filled with joy. It's like God knew exactly what I needed and He was there to meet me. It is a comfort to know that God comes in humility and meets us in our humility. Humility is actually attainable. Perfection isn't.

Now we are home again, the presents are over and done with, thanks be to God! This "keeping it simple" thing is really the way to go for me. Life is calm the kids are content and happy and there is organic beef and onions with chilli spices browning on the stove, awaiting the crock pot and tomato sauce for later when our guests come.

In a minute my oldest and I are going to make some fudge.

And then we are going to watch Superman Returns. That was one of the family gifts that found its way under the tree this year.

Have a blessed Nativity! Christ is born! Glorify Him, Alleluia!

(...only about 95 days until Pascha!)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Blue Devils

Well, it was a disappointment that the friends we invited over for caroling and cookies were not able to make it. So, plan B: we got some veggie pizza and had a family movie night. The kids certainly appreciate the spritz cookies (a Swedish favorite, must-have at Christmas time at our house) that my daughter had made, and the chocolate covered pretzels.

And it turns out I was able to get some much needed rest instead of cleaning house all afternoon. Silver linings, and all. But I'm still sad that plans did not work out as originally anticipated. Sigh.

I, as I often do when I'm feeling down in the dumps, got me some alone time at the thrift store. And while there, I SCORED!:

Hunt for Red October video!!!!!! (This is SO COOL, I've wanted this movie for my submarine collection for a while. I still want the DVD but this will keep me happy until I get it.)

Hunt for Red October book. Can't have too much Clancy or too much Submarine stuff, in my opinion.

Wedding Planner video.

Ender's Game, book: I've heard it's good and have not read any sci-fi in a while.

John Keats (Regency era) Poetry collection...this will greatly enhance both my literary acumen and my knowledge of that era. Yeah, so I like reading Regency romance books...whatever.

Soft pink sweater. Can't have too many soft things in life. My husband likes me in pink. It's my favorite color. What more can I say?

Wine red poncho type shawl. It's always cold in our church building. This will be perfect for those "I feel fat and inelegant" days. I'll wear all black under it and look good no matter what.

School uniform pants for my daughter.

A basic brown booster seat (you know the type) that will get donated to our Church. Lots of kids that age, or kids who are going to be that age soon. It will come in handy and it was only two dollars.

Yeah, I know. Shopping when I'm down: not the best thing in the world. But this was done with awareness of that particular dynamic and with permission. I needed to get out of the house, that's for sure.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Avoiding the Christmas Crap


As you all know, Christmas is usually a source of panic and stress for me starting in about August. I believe I even blogged about it...extensively. Someone asked me yesterday how my plans were coming, and if I was able to make Christmas this year be more like a "little Pascha" than before. I THINK the answer is "yes", although Christmas day needs to come and go before I know for sure.

Here's what I've done to cut down: ONE gift per person. Not one clothing gift and one toy gift, not "wouldn't fuzzy slippers be nice...oh now I need to buy four pairs", not "If I get this for him I'll need to get one for each of the girls as well". Just one gift. I almost fell into the pajamas trap, but after I'd purchased one set with plans to buy more, the person I'd gotten them for received FOUR sets of PJ's via hand-me-downs and I did a return the very next day. Thank you, Lord!

I have learned that the restraint really needs to come from within, because the pressure to buy buy buy is coming as much from within as it is from external sources. I've managed to avoid watching TV or going to the store unless absolutely necessary, and so that helps, too.

And then we've purchased some group family gifts that we get to open up and enjoy together: some DVDs to add to our collection, a jar of Nutella (my kids don't read my blog so I'm not worried), and a couple of games. I relly think gifts like this promote family solidarity and sharing.

Most important is that I did not break the budget. And I don't feel stressed.

Unfortunately, on top of this grand simplicity will be laid a layer of dollar store purchases. The kids have a tradition of getting each other and their parents dollar store gifts. I know they want to give in this way, so that is important, even if I'm less than thrilled about the stuff for sale there.

Food and fellowship:

This is new for me, having some neighbors over for cookies and Christmas caroling this Friday night.

Christmas Dinner is going to be a big vat of beef chilli. And some Killian's liquid bread, and chips. (I don't drink beer or whatever he calls that dark stuff, but the man does sometimes, as will some of our guests, no doubt). Not very traditional, but that's what is being craved around here, so that's what it will be. I'm not big on Turkey dinners and I am even less enthusiastic about Ham. And I certainly WON'T do loads of cooking on Christmas day.

I'll get some cookies made earlier in the week, starting today most likely. And some sugar free stuff so I don't make myself sick. And there's always those lovely lovely lovely Mrs. Smith's pies in the freezer section of the grocery store.

So, that's the plan.

And yes, this is abundance. I don't even pretend to think that we are "poor" or that we are less fortunate than others. We are not. We are materially blessed, even through these lean and shaky times of an autumn of joblessness followed by contracting work. God has helped to provide every single one of our needs. I hope and pray we can always give back to Him and to the "little ones" he puts in our path.

Monday, December 18, 2006

More about the Heimlich Maneuver

After the incident with my daughter the other day, I decided to check out if there was an official Heimlich maneuver website, and there is. I sent an e-mail, expressing my thanks etc. and today I got one back from Henry Heimlich himself!

He wanted me to spread the word that the Heimlich Maneuver is not just for choking. It is also life-saving for drowning victims, and can get the water out of the lungs quickely. CPR is much much less effective, for one cannot force air into water logged lungs. The Heimlich maneuver is also effective in the case of a severe asthma attack, to force air out of the lungs and get the mucus out of the way. Thousands of kids could be saved each year with this simple procedure.

If you don't know how to perform it, go check out the website. It's quick and easy and may just save someone's life.

Life the Universe and this'n'that and food stuff

I had a particularly horrid weekend. Church yesterday was especially bad and I found myself crying alone in the nave after common meal was over. I blame PMS and a bad conflagration of unfortunate circumstances. Saturday was equally bad for various reasons.

January is coming, and with that the inspiration to loose another 20 pounds this coming calendar year. I'm happy to report that despite all my imperfections, I am about twenty pounds lighter than I was this time a year ago, so on that front, 2006 has been a success. The world's slowest on-going weight loss and maintenance project, starting year three now, fueled by my fibro diagnosis two years ago and by the addition of some very sensible tools last year is continuing apace, I guess, despite a small recent setback and some very slow learning on my part. I shall continue to try, though, and that is worth alot.

In food news:

Two packs of mori-nu firm tofu fork crumbled and mixed with 2 T. lemon juice, 2 T. roasted garlic (2 minutes in the microwave did the trick) and some italian spices makes an excellent vegan lasagna filling.

"Just the chocolate" Hot cocoa: 1.5 heaping spoons of cocoa powder, pinch of salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract (unless using davinci syrup) and sugar or artificial sweetener to taste (OK, so I use 3 pumps of splenda sweetened vanilla davinci syrup and 2 packets of Stevia plus) and boiling water in a mug makes a good cup of chocolate. Notice that it's dairy free.

Exercise news:

I clocked the distance to Wallymart this weekend, and found out it's only 1.5 miles from home. That's walkable, not that I have any great desire to go there, but it's the only foot accessible store where I can buy splenda.

My kids can't wait, however, to take our "redneck stroller with a laundry basket stuff transport system" on a similar treck to the down town library.

I'm happy to report that we took our redneck cart (dubbed the "Ecotrekker") to Save-A-Lot for groceries and some exercise last Friday. One of my kids, while we were discussing fuel sources observed that the only environmental impact of something we push ourselves is "burps and farts"...not quite accurate when you consider the environmental impact of modern food production methods, but a very cute observation nonetheless.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Movie Review: Eragon

Yes, I know. We went and saw it on opening day. The trailer, after all, was SO cool. So, how was it?

My seven year old is gonna LOVE this movie. The director did a brilliant job of taking a rather complex and adolescently mature (if not original) book and reducing it into a movie barely over an hour and a half in length that any little girl would love. I mean, what's not to love: There's a blue dragon with a voice that sounds kind of disney-princessish, a blond haired brown eyed seventeen year old upstart farm boy that will do for this crop of pre-pubescents what Mark Hamil did for me, and very very obvious bad guys, including that guy with the creepy voice that sounds the same in EVERY role he plays...what's his name again? Ah yes, John Malkovich! Rhymes with Galbatorix...sort of.

Obi- Wan, I mean Brom, was played by someone I recognize from having watched Kingdom of Heaven on DVD the other night, and he was killed by orcs...I mean Urgals.

In the book, Tolkien meets up with Lucas in an eighteen year old boy's fantasy life. In the movie, Tolkien meets up with Lucas who crashes into the set of a Hallmark movie.

Two good things: The kid playing Eragon looks remarkably similar to the boy I had a crush on in sixth grade. No wonder my seven year old spent the afternoon staring at Eragon pics on the internet. And Saphira looks EXACTLY like the cover art on the book.

Imagine that!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In the Zone: Life and Death

At no personal risk to myself I saved my eldest daughter's life yesterday.

She and I were sitting at the table, and having an after school chat. She was eating fritos. Well, I said something mildly funny and suddenly, there she was. She leaned over, her face turned red, she was not breathing. She grabbed her throat. "Are you choking???" She nodded. It had happened so fast, instantly! I told her to stand up. I got behind her and did the Heimlich maneuver, and at first it did not work. So I kept at it. The thoughts going through my head: "I have no car (stupid, not like I'd be able to drive her anywhere if this were not to work, duh). This has to work. This has to work. I can't believe I'm Heimliching the same person for the second time in her life! What are the odds? This HAS to work!!!"

And in this process, the skirt I was wearing somehow came unzipped and fell off my butt, so I'm standing in the dining room performing the Heimlich on an adult-sized twelve year old in my skivvies. Lovely. Just lovely. But I didn't care. I was in the zone. You know the zone. It's the place women who are in labor go to, where physicality is subsumed by the task at hand and modesty just does not matter anymore.

Eventually (less than a minute of Heimliching, I'm sure), she could breathe but still felt the chip lodged in her throat. She was gagging, it was less than lovely, but in the zone lovely does not matter. The chip had gotten out of her windpipe and into her esophagus and nothing but lots of water could help.

Imagine swallowing a Frito like a pill. Yikes.

To Do today:

1) Put some elastic in that skirt!
2) Crush all fritos into fine powder. (Well, perhaps not...)

In other News:

I was tossing and turning yesterday morning in the wee hours, coughing my head off at intervals when I heard an explosion. It was loud. A BOOM! My mental image was a big gray ball of rapidly expanding smoke and debris. My first thought was to inventory smells and household noises to ascertain that the explosion did not in fact take place in my own home. No, it must have been down the street somewhere. Should I call 911? Within seconds I started hearing sirens. Someone's on it, I think. Why are they so far away, when the explosion was just down the block?

Later in the day my husband says to me: "Did you hear about the explosion down at the Smucker's factory? I heard about it on the radio while I was on the way to work." "I heard the explosion! It was in the wee hours."

The Smucker's factory is about a mile from here, as the crow flies. Apparently there was an explosion in the sugar silo. Employees had the fire contained by the time the Fire department got there, and we did not hear of any casualties, thank God. This incident, however, gives new meaning to the term "Sugar Bombs".

So, next time you dip into your JIF Peanut Butter or your Smucker's jelly, say a prayer of thanks to God for the protection and safety of the people who make the stuff.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Countercultural...sort of

So, last night dh and I sat down and listed all the pros and cons of buying another car now. You see, dear reader, I'm and living la vida local, not having a car, while he takes the family vehicle to work every day. It's not a commute where I can drop him off at work and pick him up in the evening. It's a "download a techie podcast to listen to while you drive" sort of commute. But it's working out.

So we listed our needs. Why do I feel like I need a car? Well, what if dd misses the school bus? That's a source of stress. What if someone gets sick and needs to go to the doctor? That's another. And there's the monthly chiropractor visit that my back desperately needs. Well, we decided to set aside a bit of cab money for the "just in case" emergencies. And I can either take a cab or beg a ride to the chiro once a month. It is, after all, once a month.

And I also can re-orient my thinking: We have a physician a mile away, there's a vet a mile away in the other direction. The grocery store is also about a mile away, as is the dollar store, and a Pharmacy. If I really really need something, a two mile walk will get me what I need. The bank is a mile and a half, as is the down-town library. That's a bit more of a stretch, but do-able if I'm having a good day physically and am desperate. More likely one of us would hit the ATM in the evening, or do the banking Saturday morning.

So, perhaps I should strive to be intentional about running errands on foot, combine it with my exercise program and get one of those baskets with two wheels and a handle to trolley purchases back and forth.

Live like a European, I say! After all, poor people have no choice but to walk all the time.

So, does this mean we are "poor people", or that we are being smart about our lifestyle choices? Hmmmmmmmmm?????

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One cool thing

about the internet is that sometimes it enables a person to find another person. So here's to my good friend from High School, Joi! If you start reading this blog, a big welcome!

That has really brightened up a rather boring doldrummy week. Seems all I'm tempted to do these days is complain about how expensive life is, and about my health...so I categorically refuse to go there.

Movie Review:

I watched Kingdom of Heaven last night, and I liked it, sort of. Not as a historical movie. I know it wasn't that at all. I watched it as fantasy-fiction, which it is. I really liked Orlando Bloom's character, mostly. He maintained purity in that he refused to kill his nemesis and marry the queen, but he lost it when he was willing to sleep with her anyways. That's just so Hollywood: No concept of sexual virtue. I appreciated the emphasis of the movie that the Kingdom of Heaven is not a piece of real estate, but is rather in the hearts and minds of the people. I expected there to be gross anti-Christian bias, and there was some, but not as bad as I anticipated. Like it only ever showed the Muslims at prayers but never the Christians. And it showed more Christian violence and in-fighting than muslim violence although history tells us that it went both ways during those days. Additionally, I'm wondering about the bit about there being what essentially amounts to a dhimmi tax in Christian controlled Messina that allowed the muslims to practice their prayers. That seems like a convenient twisting of history. Just ask the Orthodox in Turkey and Greece about being under Muslim control for long periods of time...dhimmi tax and all.

In many ways the movie was really naive. Nobody who is willing to kill for the sake of their religion is going to pick up an icon (in this case an altar cross) of another religion and restore it to its proper place.

All that criticism aside, the seige of Jerusalem was so cool, if battle scenes can be called that. I loved the trebuchets and catapults, and the creative ways the siege towers were effectively toppled. War is horrific, to be sure. It makes the battles in LOTR look clean and lovely. For one thing, Orcs bleed black and so one forgets that blood is being spilled. In Kingdom of Heaven there is no covering up the ugliness of war.

All humans bleed red.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Grateful

1. That my fibro has calmed down for now and I actually have some energy!
2. For all the people in my parish
3. Old friends and new
4. New babies, new pregnancy announcements (not me!) and people in the world falling in love.
5. Nieces and Nephews
6. For kids who are past the diaper stage and into the mercenary chores for money stage (my kitchen floor has been mopped twice in the past week, and not by me!!!!).
7. Humidifiers
8. For the chance to make a baptismal gown and go crazy with embroidery and beading on it (drool, drool!)
9. Cotton bras.
10. That Oil of Olay in shower body lotion: saves my skin in winter!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Second Worst Supper Ever

Don't try this at home!

Shrimp Garbage (Pronounce the second part with a fake French accent, soft "g", you know the drill)

In hot skillet:

Tablespoon of minced garlic
small can of diced green chillis
small can of minced olives
Package of broccoli and cauliflower florets
Seasonings to taste:

Oregano, Parsley, chilli powder, cumin

Cook until veggies are almost done, then add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done.

No lie...this smelled and tasted like the bottom the the kitchen garbage can! That's what I get for off the cuff cooking, oh, man oh, man!

My husband and I both agree that there was one meal that was worse, but neither of us have any clear memories. I seem to think it was something involving an unfortunate use of quinoa and one of my daughters seems to think it was lumpy and brown with sad bits of vegetables in it. Her description fits close enough.

Fortunately, the Shrimp Garbage inspired us to clean out the fridge, so many leftovers were happily consumed.

It goes without saying where the Shrimp dish will end up.

"Baby's got the Blues...

...Day after day, after day" (from an old Randy Stonehill song)

Down that wintry slippery slope:

1.I find myself on the computer all day long doing nothing but reading blogs and e-mail
2. A strong desire to own some sweat pants (multiple pairs) and wear nothing but those or p.j.-esque outfits all day every day. Plotting to purchase some. Why don't I own any sweats? Well, I'm skinnier than I was last winter and I got rid of the clothes that were too big for me.
3. Difficulty focusing on domestic chores
4. Nowhere to go, carless, nothing to do but stay at home and be here.
5. Find myself mentally checked out. Somehow my kids are managing to get their daily lessons done in spite of me.
6. Everything I do takes an effort of volition, feels like climbing a mountain.
7. I want to eat everything.

Ways to combat it:

1. Hair and makeup every day.
2. Exercize: get out, go waking, do pilates...do somehting.
3. Force self to keep house tidy and laundry done.
4. Prayers
5. When that despair hits my gut here's my new rule: Clean something, fold something or put something away.
6. Write down what you eat and count calories.
7. Give thanks to God for He is good, His love endures forever.

It's that time of year again. I'm sorry when my blogging gets whiney and pathetic. I've had enough stress, at least for me. I know I don't suffer all that much in my life, I know there are persons in much worse shape physically, financially, mentally, all of it. So, I say a prayer for them.

But this battle is hard, nonetheless.

Heard at our house

You know you are in Kentucky when it is snowing outside, and your excited eight year old exclaims: "It's Snowing!!!! Maybe we'll get an inch!!!"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Something Positive

For someone who can't have any "real sweets" or fruit juice:

1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
3 packages Stevia Plus
Half a cup or so of sugar free Tang (high in vitamin C!)

Blend in blender of "Frappe" setting...


Yeeeee-Uuuuuuuummy!

180 calories

Defeated (aka #%$#%$ Bootstraps)

I give up. You win. Now go away!

Not you, the reader. I"m speaking of life's difficulties. Especially the long-term financially annoying kind that involve major home repairs.


Our gutters were baaaad. So we go to get them replaced. And our back porch roof was leaking. It got contracted on the same job. You see, water leaking into the formerly dry crawl space has so much long term potential for mold and damage, our house has been getting more and more dilapidated as time goes by and nary a handyman in the bunch here at our house...

Well, yesterday while the workers were doing the front gutters, lo and behold: They find termite damage, especially on the boards that were the worst water damaged.

I can't say I'm very surprised. But now we get to do a termite inspection and get treated for those buggers. I know it won't be as expensive as the gutter work, but still.

Nothing minus something equals debt. Debt and more debt.

It's like you gotta put a roof over the head, and you gotta have a car to get to work, and it's always pinching and always never enough...and I get so sick of self-righteous rich people who can moralize about how bad it is to shop at Walmart! Who turn organic eating and ecologically correct living into their theology, their acts of righteousness and their holiness, and whose superb evidence of godliness is good financial management, no chronic illness and no debt.

Somehow, that's not the gospel, either.

What's the line between poor and poor? It's all shades of gray. I am not delusional enough to think that we are really poor (after all, we have DSL!), but all I have to do is walk three blocks and there it is. Literally. And yet, it lurks. Feels like it's ever waiting to pounce. I just feel defeated and I want to curl up and cry.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Feast of St. Nicholas


Growing up, this was one of my favorite days. In Switzerland it was called "Sammi Glaus Tag", and we often celebrated in school by going on a field trip into the woods where someone dressed as Santa would be waiting for us. For a poem or a song, Sammi Glaus would give us a bag of goodies: nuts, dried fruit, tangerines, sweetbread, cookies, chocolates. We were admonished to be good boys and girls because if NOT...(somehow it was always the boys who were most threatened for their exuberance with this prospect) Schumunzle, Sammi Glaus' helper (who not surprising tended to be dressed like a novice in black cassok) would put you in a big burlap bag and take you into the forest for a year of hard labor, doing whhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifat the Swiss Santa does year round: feeding woodland creatures and living in peace and harmony with God and nature. Sammi Glaus lives in the Black Forrest and comes leading a Donkey packed with goodies. Befitting the lifestyle of a hermit forest dweller, he's rather thin, and usually wears a red robe trimmed in white. Long white beard, the works. Here are some drawings by Swiss kids on the subject.

When I was in in Kindergarten, I remember "St. Nicholas" coming to visit. This one was dressed like a Catholic Bishop: All blues and whites and gold, with a Mitre sporting a big cross, and a shepherd's crook.

So, this was probably more accurate, although the vestments might have been a bit anachronistic. Who knows? I have not studied a history of Christian Vestments...yet.

At any rate, our beloved Archbishop Dmitri visited our parish last weekend, and in some ways it really took me back to my childhood. He did not pass out sweets, but I did receive a blessing, and kissing his hand, I just felt like he could be Santa. Geez, I wonder why?



And that, is the point. One saint should remind us of another Saint. Our hierarchs should all have that aroma of godliness about them and recall Christ to us in special ways, just as we are all to remind each other of Christ as we live our lives. Vladyka giving little Becca and little Theresa hugs goodbye and commenting that for this, he'd not want to leave...this was the highlight of my weekend. Such kindness, such love. And these little girls, I hope, will NOT have to treck to Walmart or the Mall to get their pictures taken with "Santa" because this is the real deal.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My crummy metabolism

So, I've been in a bad way with the fibro this fall. Fall is always bad. Extra pain, less energy...therefore less walking. In fact the walking sort of came to a grinding halt due to leg weakness and pain/fatigue. I know in part the increase in my symptoms was due to the stress of my husband's "career transition". It's been weird, crazy, up-in-the-air and stressful. I was doing so well before. And now I've regained ten of those hard-to-loose (easy to gain!) pounds. Sigh.

And so, I try again. I keep putting forth the effort because I know if I don't keep it at bay, I'll be as big as a barn. I know dh appreciates my efforts, paltry though the results are. We all know what I'd look like without any effort. But it's so ding dang stinkin' HARD.

I feel so fluffy that I'm having Weight Watcher's flash-backs, and the thought of re-joining, frighteningly enough, is holding some appeal. Although I'm still 15 pounds lighter than I was this time a year ago.

But I need to get the ten off before they turn into twenty.

It is SO HARD, and SO MUCH WORK. And I'll be doing this for the rest of my life. That's a depressing thought.

But, here I go again.

Anyone want to join me?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Postmoderns-R-Us

Well, in this quest of mine, I have decided to wrap my brain around just what it means to be a postmodern person, and what it the term "postmodern" or "postmodernism" means. Definitions help. So, I went over to wikipedia, which ironically enough owes its very existence to postmodernism. The very concept of an encyclopedia which is "of the people" with anyone able to contribute, the only check and balances being other knowledgeable folks who edit each other is a brilliant example. I would refer my blog readers to the wikipedia article on postmodernism for a very thorough and boring read, links included.

In many many ways, we post moderns are being ye olde pendulum and reacting against modernism, enlightenment, etc. This comes through in our piety, spirituality, our quest for God, in the fact that we don't like Walmart or McDonald's very much (even if we shop there due to limited options etc.). It comes through in the questions we ask and the thoughts we think.

In my life I see that I am a postmodern in a po-mo millieu coming out in the following ways:

-A rejection of enlightenment standards and rationalism as it pertains to things spiritual for a more mysterious approach (but there's still a large element of pragmatism: I look for the mysteries to work, and they do). And I do not mean to say that I do not strive to be a rational person, or a ration follower of Christ, just that I reject Rationalism as an "ism" that then would trump other aspect of the human experience. And I admit (shhhh, don't tell), I also secretly think it would be cool if gnomes and fairies and elves exist in hiding. Perhaps they do. Wouldn't it be fun! The angels and demons I'm more certain about.

-I value continuity with that which is ancient, pre-modern.

-A quest for silence in a world that would bombard me with information, technology and "input".

-A quest for personal silence in a world that tells each person that their voice MUST be heard. (So why am I blogging???? he he he. Good question. I didn't say I was perfect.)

-The creation of original arts.

-Intentional community with those who are my fellow travellers. One act at a time. This is hard.

-Approaching life holistically. This is hard, and I feel like its more in my head than in my deeds at this point. Because we have inherited so much that is compartmentalized, fragmented...I mean the very structures of our society, the fact that one has to drive everywhere to get anyplace and exercise intentionally in order not to get ill because we are so sedentary from all the driving necessitated by the very structures of our cities and towns is a fine example of this sort of brokenness. Living cut off from food sources is another such example. It goes on and on.

-Eastern Religion: tangible, mystical, holistic, involving all five senses, the whole body and the rational mind, challenging.

OK, that's a start.

How do you see yourself as a postmodern in a postmodern world?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Recreating the Church

This is an idea that seems to float about in the emergent conversation. These words get bandied about. For example, Makeesha writes: "Can we create a new and more effective Body of Christ that better glorifies the multifaceted beauty of our Living Lord?"

From an Orthodox perspective, any such question MUST be approached in the forum of personal repentance, I think. I have to ask: Can I become a new and more effective servant of Christ who better glorifies the multifaceted beauty of my Living Lord? And that is why I go to confession. And that I way I engage in the ancient disciplines of the Church. That is why I learn to fast, pray and give alms both in time and money. That is why there are intercessory prayers offered up on behalf of all.

But the idea of recreating the Church...this doesn't sit well with me. Who are we, to take such power into our own hands? Who are we to stand in such judgment on our brothers and sisters? Because the Church is not just the ones I see when I go to a certain place on Sunday morning, or Saturday night, or whenever. It includes those who have already fought the fight and who are interceding for us in heaven. We are one body, and to speak of "recreating" something as holy and precious as the Church of Christ, whom He has made His pure and spotless bride, is presumptuous.

Now, if we want to use different language, and challenge the people of God to works of mercy, to purer lives, to living the gospel in new and deeper ways, this I can wholeheartedly endorse. But missional living is nothing new. It may be a new word to define a certain phenomenon, but I would offer up St. Juliana of Lazarevo, St. John of Kronstadt, St. Xenia of Petersburg, St. Herman of Alaska and espcially St. Maria (you know, the one in Paris) as a examples of missional saints. The list could go on and on. This is nothing new. From where I sit, intentional community is room temperature, and saints such as these are those we strive to immitate.

The Church, then, does not need something new. She needs something ancient. She does not need us to recreate her, but rather WE need to be recreated by the great physician and healer, Christ.

So perhaps we agree in principle, but not in the language being used.

Talk to me.

Taking on the Hydra

I've decided to educate myself about all this somewhat new-fangled "Emergent/Emerging" stuff. I got some friends, you see, and have been engaging in coffee shop discussions. New words like "missional" come up on a fairly regular basis. It's time I find out just what my new friends are talking about.

I say "somewhat new-fangled" because it was Eleven years ago that I graduated seminary, and this stuff was nowhere on the radar screen back then. I seem to have escaped into Eastern Orthodoxy just in time. But I will admit that I've studiously avoided the rumblings in the blogosphere these past few years. I realize I'm not hip, or up to date, and quite honestly, if asked, I'd be hard pressed to give a definition of just what it means to be "post modern". Does secretly wishing I had a tatoo count? I doubt it. And dang it, I own neither an ipod nor a laptop (but my husband does).

And without actually going out and spending money on actual books, I'm having a hard time grasping the concepts...and maybe that is the point. Perhaps this thing really is as multifaceted as it seems. I keep schlepping myself over to the Emergent Village in hopes of reading something of substance but all there seems to be are short blog posts concerning conferenece registrations. Bleh. I suppose I may have to actually download some mp3's and listen in. The very thought!

So, I was reading up on missional and my reaction was "...well, DUH!" what else would the Church be? It's like our little crowd here in the greater Lexington area emerged out of evangelicalism and into intentional (Eucharistic) community, (read: Orthodox), long before the movement began. History repeats itself and neither were we the first to trod that path, and the least I can say is that the Emergent crowd have perhaps some valid criticisms of the Evangelicalism from whence they sprang. Much of it seems quite reactionary, though.

So, yesterday while blogreading I read an article (deemed useless by some and helpful by others) by a fellow I've never heard of named Brett Kunkle entitled "Essential Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church". This of course written from an Evangelical perspective. Oddly enough, my reaction to the article was strange. He contrasts Evangelical orthodoxy (notice the small o) with some of the Emergent thinking floating through the ether, and what I noticed was that much of what is Evangelical orthodoxy were the very points the questioning of which drove me into the Arms of the Orthodox Church. So, I am intrigued. Like here is a great conversation waiting to happen. Ooo, listen to me. I'm already picking up on some of the lingo. And I do like coffee.

My point would be, there are some points of departure and commonality worth exploring. My invitation to those Emerging would be: Don't dismiss out of hand the notion of exploring a Church that has managed to be trans/super-cultural, enculturated variously in both time and space and yet consistent in it's praxis and belief, while remaining personally transformational to millions of Christians for two thousand years. It might just be relevant in this time and place, post-modern though it is, as well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thrilled

You see, I've had the same hairstyle since Junior High. That was 1982. Well, to be precise I've had the same three hair-do's since Junior High. Either it's shoulder length or longer with some layers (also known as growing out a short haircut) or it's a bob of some form...or something in between. The only variation has been length. I never had the "Rachel" or that cute flippy hair cut that is so "thirtysomethingmomish". No variety, no updates...nothing to be done.



Until now. I always despaired that my hair (which is not the MOST curly hair in the world, but is very very stubborn in its own right) was the sort of hair that I would style and then as soon as I go out into humidity or weather it reverts to it's evil curly incarnation. Until now.

Enter, the ceramic plated wonder by Revlon that has become my new best friend!

Before (which of course has to be taken with NO MAKEUP and a fairly ugly shirt:




And After. This literally took me only about five minutes to do! Well, and maybe another two or three for "mom makeup".


And me being a bit silly with the whole "pouty mouth" thing...


I just can't say enough how thrilled I am. And my hair stays like this all day. It is soft, no hair spray required. I'm probably the LAST woman in America to discover the brilliant wonder and manifestation of healed communion between God, humans and nature that is a ceramic hair straightener. Well, there you have it, folks.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Weekend in Chicago

Heard on Sunday morning at All Saint's Orthodox Church in Chicago:

"Today the Virgin cometh, cometh unto the cave, to give birth to the Word, who was born before all ages. Begotten in a manner that defies description. Rejoice therefore O Universe, if thou shouldst hear and glorify with the angels and the shepherds. Glorify Him, who by his will shall become a new born babe, and who is our God, before all ages."

Seen under an overpass: A water mark, surrounded by flowers, turned into a shrine, that looked remarkably like a water mark and not very much at all like this:


Also seen:

U-505 captured by the American's off the coast of Africa during WW2, the capture of which brought into our hands the enigma code machine and 900 pounds of code books and documents, helping to win the war on that front. I have a thing for submarines, so this was very very cool!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

His name is Nick!



And he's been living naked in my sewing cabinet for quite some time now. I made him last spring, I think. Today he got an outfit, and will be coming to Chicago with us, and gifted to my nephew, who is turning two. Young enough for a "boy doll" I think. Timely, since he'll be a big brother next summer.

The coveralls are from old shirt scraps of my husband's.

And yes, the consensus of the relatives is that I should bring the germs with me to Thanksgiving...so I will. No fever this morning, but after lunch my temp started climbing again. Now that Nick's outfit is finished, I think I'll go take a nap.



Oh, and my pumpkin cheesecake is BEEE-U-TEE-FUL!

Should I stay or should I go?????

I got the flu. The gut clenching, 101.5 fever (which is more like 102.5 for me, since I tend to have a low body temperature), will-myself-not-to-vomit, black tea 'n toast kind of flu.

And according to multiple friends and accquaintances who have/had it, it's a doozy that won't just go away in a day or two.

The pediatric version seems to be limited to dia...I can't ever spell that word...and/or vomiting with no fever. The adult version seems to be what I have. So all the kids had their diawhatever last week and seem to be over it. No one slowed down in the least whilst affected.

I thought I had a quickie version because last Friday I woke up with bad nausea and all that goes with it, but as the day wore on, I was better. So my weekend was normal. Then yesterday at the crack, there is was again. This time with a vengeance and a fever.

Problem is, my sister is having her baby today and I was supposed to Doula! Waaaah. No question. I'm not going anywhere NEAR them with this bug. So, that's a big diappointment.

The other thing is, we are supposed to travel to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Do I stay or do I go? I have no turkey (well, does ground turkey count?) in the house, etc. This morning I got up and fetched some Ricotta cheese from Kroger so I can make that Sugar Free Pumpkin Cheesecake I've been planning on making and taking with me. It takes like two hours of baking and three hours of cooling in the oven and then MORE time in the refrigerator before it can be served. I was going to make it yesterday but discovered my ricotta was moldy. Bad news. And then dh forgot to get me the cheese last night. Oh, well. So in my pj's this morning I went out, and the trip to the store was enough to convince me that I'm not well yet.

Do I stay or do I go? I hate disappointing my sister-in-law. I'm thinking of sending my family and staying home alone.

What would YOU do?????

Monday, November 20, 2006

Old Song Lyrics On My Mind




There is no better place
than to be here and to look upon Your face
In your Church
or all alone
no better place than to be before Your throne
God of comfort
Lord of mercy
Love that knows no bounds
I adore You
worship and bow down
worship and bow down

--From the Cassette "High Praise" by Don Francisco from back in the late 1980's.

Fun Meme

One word, and only one word, so here goes!

Yourself: Creative
Your partner: Lovable
Your hair: curly
Your Mother: outspoken
Your Father: bearded
Your Favorite Item: varies
Your dream last night: insomnia
Your Favorite Drink: Wine
Your Dream Car: paid
Your Dream Home: clean
The Room You Are In: bedrofficom
Your Ex: gone
Your fear: foolishness
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? healthy
Who you hung out with last night: Molly
What You're Not: Outgoing
Muffins: Cranberry
One of Your Wish List Items: Patristics
Time: bandits
The Last Thing You Did: reading
What You Are Wearing: mismatched
Your favorite weather: crispy
Your Favorite Book: romance
Last thing you ate: triscuits
Your Life: quiet
Your mood: lazy
Your Best Friends: precious
What are you thinking about right now: people
Your car: black
What are you doing at the moment: blogging
Your summer: poolside
Relationship status: Married
What is on your tv: Nothing
What is the weather like: Cool
When is the last time you laughed: yesterday

First Snow



A runty Kentucky snow, but oh how the kids are excited! It will probably be done by noon, but nonetheless they are some giddy kids.

I've already been reprimanded for not having hot cocoa mix on hand.

And THIS fascinates me:

""Treeologist" L. H. "Dick" Frymire of Irvington in Breckingridge County using a handed down, top secret formula, has studied the leaves, bark and interior readings of his Japanese maple weather tree, along with decades of weather data, in compiling his day-to-day snow predictions for the Ohio Valley and parts of the Mississippi Valley, give or take two days depending on your location:" has predicted "tracking snow" for November 19th. Today is November 20th. This prediction was published in September, I think. I printed it off of the local Library website from an article posted there.

Interesting. Very very interesting!

Friday, November 17, 2006

These Days

Just nothing much to write about that's blog worthy. No big thoughts. Just lots of quiet and snuggly blankets while fall pelts against the windows and I sit a crochet, or talk to my kids.

They grow so fast. My eldest is proving as adept at hand crafts as I am, and has fashioned a clever and lovely pair of mittens with some yarn and a crochet hook. I've been crocheting lately, too, like I mentioned.

My current project: Inspired by a century old pattern, and with finely spun recycled wool yarn ($2.50 sweater from the thrift store unraveled. A GREAT way to get cheap yarn in natural fibers!) of a soft fawn color I am making a shawl. Irish crochet crackle stitch with roses and rose leaf motifs.

How To: What I do is make the edging, then baste that to a piece of fabric or pattern paper ( plan on using a sheet, it won't come to any harm in the process). Then I baste the motifs where I want them, then connect them all with irregular chains and picots. When all is done I take the basting out, and do my blocking (Hand wash the piece and pin the edges onto a board to shape it as it dries) and the piece will be done. Not a single thing is technically too difficult about this. I can do each element. I've just never done a crochet project of this scope before. But I'm doing it. I promise to post a picture when it's done. Perhaps some when I've at least got the motifs and edging basted to the base...right now a progress shot is useless since all it would be is a ziploc baggie full of roses and a bundle of crocheted picot lace edging.

I am trying to still and quiet my soul these days. I'm thinking that there is so much of vanity in me. So much of that which wants to impress people or "be somebody", or say the right things on this blog or when I'm talking with people and that needs to die.

Contemplating what I listened to the other day: "The Word of the Cross" CD Lecture by Fr. Thomas Hopko. Good stuff, that.

Giving the kids the day off from Home-school today, since I was up in the middle of the night as the stomach bug that's going around started manifesting itself in my body at 4 am. Oh, joy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Book Review: Straight Up, by Lisa Samson

I don't normally do book reviews on this blog. But I promised I would, so here goes: Straight Up by Lisa Samson can definitely be categorized as Christian fiction, but it's a different sort of Christian fiction from the normal, smarmy and preachy fare that I at least associate with the genre.

The story features several very interesting characters: an alcoholic Jazz musician, some radical Christians living their faith close to the streets, transformation, surrender and some really good cobbler and perhaps a surprise ending. The plot is anything but formulaic (which is refreshing, to say the least) and the prose is brilliant.

The brain bender for me in all this, is that the book is set in my corner of Lexington, KY. How cool is THAT? By the end of the book I felt like I should be able to put on my sneakers, walk a mile and meet the characters in their haunts.

I was up very late at night turning the pages of this book by Lisa Samson. It's one that somehow preaches without being preachy. And coming from me, that's a big compliment.

Here's a link to the author's blog: Author Intrusion

Thursday, November 09, 2006

McDonalds and Me

As many who know me, or who read this blog know, I've been on a health journey for the past few years. Of course, compared to many I am very much a novice. As of this writing, for instance, I have no plans to give up artificial sweeteners, but I do limit and vary what I use. My favorite by far is not even an AS, but is a natural product called stevia. Unfortunately, it only is good for things like drinks...and is hideous in cooking. Fortunately, homemade low carb meatloaf does not require Splenda or stevia or anything else like that, and neither does a nice vat of vegetables. You get my drift.

I had this epiphany one time. I don't remember if it was in my pre-sugar free/caffeine free/low or smart carb days or my post-sf/cf/lc days. But this memory lurks:

I was in the drive through. I HAD to have a snack (this is a good indicator that it took place BEFORE I got my hypoglycemia under control). I looked in the rear view mirror and in the car behind me was a very chubby woman. Then I realized, I looked very much the same, and I wondered...and I pondered...and I changed. Last time we went through the mcd's drivethrough we got a round of pies for everyone. It was after Church, late and the kids were hungry. We do that about four times a year. So, not that big a deal. And what did I get while we were there? Nothing. That's right, and I also lived to tell about it. I actually survived with a growling stomach for the forty minutes it took us to get home.

So why couldn't the rest of the family also survive, you ask? Well, for one thing no one else is overweight but me, and for another, we wanted to put the kids right to bed as soon as we got home. You know the drill if you have kids. It was just one of those days.

I just finished reading the book: "Don't Eat this Book" by the guy who did the "Supersize Me" movie. Now I want to see the movie.

For some reason, even the water at Mcd's tastes like fat.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

He Got a Job!

A job is a good thing. It means Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the ability to blog more in the coming months! As you can see, my priorities are so very very straight.

For those in our parish: Molieben (Thanksgiving prayers) offered at 6:15 pm this Saturday, before Vespers.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

I've been preparing Sunday School lessons for the teachers each week this fall, since Sunday School started last September. We are working out way through Genesis, and I am humbled. I'm the "storyteller" and then the kids break up into age groups and have some activities with their teachers. I've been doing a little work up each week on the story and if I can find it, patristic commentary, and hearing how these stories are presented in other Orthodox materials for kids.

I stand in awe at the faith of Abraham, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, etc. These people had a trust in God far greater than mine, and I am humbled. They were waiting on the promise, and I HAVE the promise, yet I am in awe.

How can Adam carry on upon the earth by the sweat of his brow after knowing paradise?
How can Seth fill his brother Abel's shoes?
How can Enoch walk with God?
How can Noah build a boat on dry land?
How can Abraham leave his family to go live among wicked pagans?
How can Isaac lay down on the wood that he himself carried to the hill?
How can Rebecca go with a stranger?
How can Jacob see heaven?
How can Joseph resist evil and pursue good in the midst of suffering?

How did these men and women KNOW God? And this without Holy Scriptures?

One of the things that has stood out to me is that there is always continuity. Lifespans overlap. Stories get told. Faith is passed from parents to their children. There is continuity. Holy Tradition. And a God who seeks us, seeks to be known by us. Constantly seeks a relationship with us. Not a God who abandons, but a God who promises, a God who fulfills His promises, and a God who woos His people.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Starbuck's Virgin

I'm a Starbuck's virgin...never had it. And if I can help it, I never will. It's not that I'm intrinsically opposed to Starbucks, or that I think Starbuck's is somehow evil, or anything like that. I've read good things about the company, and how they treat their employees and how the employees are trained to treat customers.

I'm a Starbuck's virgin just because I can be, because I want to be....just because, I guess. I've never drank any of their grocery store products, either. Just because I can be. I have enough addictions and passions in this life without adding another.

And there is a delightful, locally owned, unique coffee shop in my neighborhood called Third Street Coffee, where a large decaf comes with free refills and funky back ground music. They make a mean sugar free mocha as well. A good place for some quiet non-conversation, or to meet friends. And they have a very nice menu. A good place for the impromptu date night with the husband. A good place for those who need wireless internet access. A good place to meet up with friends.

It's down on Third Street and Limestone. Two thumbs up.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Not blogging much

Life is busy. And until Wes buys a laptop to do some of his business on, he's hogging the 'puter all day every day with his work. And by the time I get a chance to do important things like BLOG! I'm too tired to think of anything good to write about.

So I leave you with this:

God is good.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sturm und Drang

I was SHOCKED, shocked I tell you, when I noticed that L----- AVE. is NO LONGER CLOSED. Well, at least this morning it was open, at least for a little while. I don't know if it has truly "stuck" or not, but now the crews are mucking about at the corner and onto the erstwhile detour street, so who knows, perhaps O-- H--- will be closed soon, instead of L-----. Hmmmm... At least it might make traffic quieter around here.

Just in time for the elections, too....

I mean, for those who don't live here: It's literally been YEARS that this road has been closed off. YEARS! So long that on the orange striped "Road Closed" Barrier, someone had stenciled (very neatly, I must say) "Forever" underneath. Now, even that "Forever" is weathered and fading. That's how long it's been closed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Evening Gift

is the energy to dig in rain softened earth, and me, with kids at my elbows, stomping the shovel into the ground. A sack full of shared-from-a-friend iris bulbs lies waiting.
Hoping it is not too late, as light frost has already found us, I lay them in their winter beds. Sleep well, iris bulbs. The earth is soft and warm tonight. The ground is fragrant, soft from the rain, so I will let you rest. And I will cover you and leave you in the maker's hands, and hope, come spring, to smell your worshiping fragrance. And hope, come spring, that you will teach me about resting and about growing, about seasons, and about blooming where planted. Teach me about beauty and about sharing and about peace.

I hate election day

I just do. There are never any good choices and I feel like I'm choosing which liar to vote for. I care about alot of things but either party is a vast sea of compromise. I just don't like it.

That's all.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cause and Effect

We here in the USA need to know. We need to know how the Christians in Iraq are doing
And we need to pray. And we need to repent. Martyrs are being made daily and some Christians in this country still believe there will be a rapture to spare them from tribulation? Puh-leeeese!

This seems good and right

I wonder if any Orthodox Hierarchs have spoken out against our government using torture to gain information, etc. It chills me to think that laws are being monkeyed with on this issue, and it chills me to think of policies against torture being ignored or blatantly violated, although I'm not so naive to think that America is lilly white or has clean hands. We are, however, degrading ourselves more and more. It just ain't right.

Here's the link . Learn more. Sign the petition. Say a prayer. Do what you can.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Reinventing Christmas

This is a conversation I am going to have with my family. We MUST reinvent Christmas. Is has GOT to be different. And as far as it goes, our family has always had a scaled back version of the holiday, but there in lies the problem: scaled back, whilst a good beginning, can cause its own sort of stress. The stress comes in, at least for me, in the mental "keeping up with the mythical Joneses" that occurs despite my best efforts. Christmas morning at DL always finds me feeling distincly shabby next to those who are glammed up in their new Christmas outfits.

Last year was a fiasco because it was scaled back but not scaled back. I've heard of families saying they are scaling back to a hundred bucks per kid, for instance....HA! That would be the ultimate luxury for us. So I say this realizing that this terminology is loose and it is all relative.

So, scaling back just has not worked for us. I've done the homemade gifts out the yin-yang. I've looked in toy catalogs and created by hand doll dancing stages, rag dolls, doll clothes, etc. I've given framed kid's art to grandparents, etc. etc. It's all been done, tried, worn thin.

I even tried creating for myself a maroon velour christams dress: nice idea in theory but somehow it came off looking like I was wearing pajamas to Church.

And then there's the dread b-word: Budget. Last year we had a budget, which was great, and kept our spending on a cash basis, no Christmas debt, etc. BUT then it became this big stressor: how much bang can I get for my Budget Buck? And it was all about creating a whiz-bang gift giving occasion times four. And what happened? I failed miserably. Most of the gifts I got for my kids fell flat, weren't that great or broke very quickly and were a disappointment. How crappy is THAT?

So, how do I reinvent Christmas? The reinvention started several years ago when Divine Liturgy became the start of our day, and not opening presents at the crack of dawn. A good change. The reinvention continued as we developed the tradition of having people over for Christmas dinner in the evening: people who perhaps don't have family, or who can't get "home to grandma's". So that is a good thing. Much cheer and fellowship.

Part of the reinvntion needs to involve a change in gift expecations, both giving and receiving: I would like for the feast of the Nativity to not be more than Pascha, somehow. We always get a basket full of goodies like good foods, perhaps an icon, gifts, etc. for the whole family to enjoy at Pascha. How can I use that as the base line, and re-invent the Nativity celebration to be similar, not more, still being its own thing?

Here's the brainstorm: at Pascha I do try to get each of us a new outfit (at least the kids, and a new shirt or something for dh). Perhaps one cozy clothing item each at Nativity: you know, P.J's or gloves or something.

At Pascha, besides the fast breaking foods, I try to include a gift for each that will somehow help their spiritual development. Perhaps for celebrating the incarnation of Christ, something personal and material would be appropriate: One toy, or for those beyond toys something to care for one's body...hmmmm, sounding like the traditional Christmas gift list already. But what if the volume were kept low, smaller?

And something for the family to enojoy together: a game, or a movie or a new CD? But what if the total volume was not to exceed what would fit in, say, a pic nic basket? What IF it did not have to be piles of stuff under the tree? Would the kids be OK with that?

Because I remember all the broken toys, all the attempts at fashionable clothes that have gone unworn, all the stuff that just does not get played with, and I just don't want that sort of thing mucking up the holiday anymore. I'm so done with it!

Making Christmas like a LITTLE Pascha....that would be a joy!

75 Days

...until Christmas.

AAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!

Friday, October 06, 2006

A life fraught with murphy...I mean mercy...

Today was one of those days when I had too too much crammed into my schedule and I knew it and was dreading it...but not knowing a way to excuse myself from any of the activities planned.

This morning, from ten until noon, was a wonderful Kentucky History field trip to Raven's Run where we heard from an historical re-enactor how our ancestors (literally in the case of myself and my kids) came to Kentucky (then the commonwealth of Virginia) after receiving land grants for serving in the Revolutionary War. Of course I could barely walk at the end of the two hour tour, in which I stepped into a two hundred year old house and confirmed that whether they are in Switzerland or the USA, two-hundred year old farm houses have very much the same smell about them: old wood smoke, old stone, old wood. Very nice smell, in my opinion. Smelled like La Malmaison. What a surprise! I learned about native Kentucky plants, about Asian Honeysuckle (not native!~) and chickory (also not native), and about indian grass and goldenrod (the state weed...I mean flower).

Barely shuffling back to the van, I took the kids to McD's for lunch, to round out the fun-ness of our first homeschooling field trip.

Then home and I was oh! so! tired! But nonetheless, off to get E's eye's checked and most likely glasses.

But....the car that I'd been driving not five minutes before, would not start. We called the service department and they sent out a tow truck who jumped it and suggested we get the battery checked. Fortunately, since dh is currently vastly underemployed, he was able to run that errand. So, no trip to the eye doc today, but woo hoo...I settled in for a much needed "I have fibromylagia" nap on the lazyboy recliner, along with some "no more driving today" type pain meds.

I WAS going to run like mad, pick up one of the kid's friends for a sleepover, go grocery shopping, etc. Now, instead, I get to stay home and rest. This is what I should have planned in the first place. Dh is off with dd picking up her friend, and if the house is not as spit spot perfect as I'd wanted, well, it's only a blow to my pride and nothing else.

I think I"ll go put my feet back up and bribe some kids to get the living room clean.

Mercy's law strikes again! (Whenever something NEEDS to go wrong, there is an angel of mercy on hand assuring that it will.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Woo Woo Audioblogging

Ah yes, so as per all-four-people-who-read-my-blog's request, I tried singing one of my songs on Audioblogger. An unmitigated disaster to which I will not subject the world. But if anyone wants, just let me know via e-mail and I'll send you a demo CD with a selection of my stuff. How's that? alanaatigloudotcome is my e-mail.
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How much is mercy?

Well, the saga on the furnace: we had a guy in here yesterday to check out why the motor did not kick on on our furnace. There was absolutely NOTHING wrong with it, turns out. He just flicked it and got it to turn over....BUT...it was a mercy that it did not turn over because our air vent, somehow, was completely full of WATER, since we had that water leak last spring and the vent hose had not been strapped up to the underside of our house when it was installed, and if it had sucked water into the electrical motor of the furnace, that could have been bad. So, our guardian angel was sitting in our crawl space with his/her/its finger stuck in the motor, preventing it from turning over, I guess.

And that makes me wonder: How much is really mercy? I like to say I believe in Murphy's law: That if something can go wrong, it most likely will. But what if the reality is that it is Mercy's Law instead, and that all these seeming mishaps are actually God's protection of us, from greater and more harmful disasters?

Do I have eyes to see the mercy and the grace in my life, or am I going to continually be a puddleglum and only see that bad?

Thank You

O Lord, I thank You for this cross.
For by it I am awkened
to the reality of You.

O Lord, thank you for this cross.
By it I have learned of my dependance on You
and of Your love and care for me.

O Lord, thank You for these fears,
for by them I have come to know
You: the Comforter and banisher of all fear.

O Lord, thank you for the need I'm in,
for through this I am coming to know
that You, O Lord, supply all my needs.

O Lord, thank You for this physical pain,
for it is teaching me compassion and long-suffering
and it keeps me ever mindful of your sacrifice.

O Lord, thank You for this fatigue,
for it has forced me to slow down and become
mindful of the priorities in Your Kingdom.

O Lord, thank You for this cross.
It has become the crucible where I am
being refined.

O Lord, thank You for this cross,
for it is teaching me to say
"Thy will be done!"

O Lord, thank You for this cross.
It is for my salvation!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Better day

Today is really quiet. I went to the dollar store to buy a one dollar journal in order to copy an Akathist that I really like: Jesus, Light for those in Darkness

I know it's sort of weird but I like to have stuff written in my own handwriting sometimes. It's a slow process but helps me to own it, and to pray.

A bit of work is coming dh's way this week, so that is encouraging. And, upon looking at the classifieds again yesterday we saw something that was totally missed upon first perusal. Who knows what may yet pan out, eh?

Friday, September 29, 2006

One more thing

Chilly house. Furnace did not kick on when we adjusted the thermostat. Just. what. we. need.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bad bad day today

Nothing bad happened, but I'm just stressed about the joblessness. And tired. And hurting (fibro: stress makes it much much worse). I had a nice hard crying jag this afternoon. Then I prayed for a bit. Then I went shopping.

I got groceries. Chocolate sugar free ice cream: necessary. I wonder when I'll be able to go grocery shopping again. Thinking about the widow that the prophet stayed with, whose food did not run dry. Trying to find opportunities for giving. Seeking to obey God in all things. Will God care for me, too? Not like I can "earn it"...whatever. Often I think I must either be being tested like Job, or beneath God's notice. Why is life so often hard, and so often (pardon my french) shitty?

Dh says he'll go and try to get a 2nd shift warehouse or factory job tomorrow, and keep up his job search during the day.

I took dd in for her check up yesterday and then when I dropped her off at school got to witness her being teased in the office, right in front of me. Middle schoolers have no shame. I asked her about the incident later and she told me she just thought the girl who was teasing her was weird. She totally didn't "get" that she was being mocked and laughed at. The good thing about AS is that since her brain is wired differently, the things that bother her are not the things that would bother me. But it broke my heart. Her comment: "Those kids are just weirdo aliens!" OK, deep breath...I did not want to get upset over something she's not upset over. But the very nerve, teasing a kid in front of that kid's mother. Of course if I'd have said something it would have exacerbated the situation. I spoke with parents of another AS kid today and they confirmed everything I was thinking and the choice I made not to say anything to the rude girl.

I, for one, like kids with AS. They are so honest. It's refreshing these days, in a way. There are several in our homeschooling coop, and I had a nice conversation with one kid today about professional lawn-maintenance vehicles. He was wearing a John Deere sweatshirt, and my guess is, that's his current fascination. I helped him make tea. Styrofoam does not go so well in the microwave.

But back to my observations about dd1 yesterday: When I went to pick her up to take her to her checkup, some of the kids in her cluster/class were sitting with her, sharing their lunches and were very friendly to her and one girl even looked me in the eye and said: "Hi B's Mom!" That was so welcoming. Made me glad. For most of the day, these are the kids dd1 is with, so that is good. A blessing.

I can tell I'm sinking into depression. Can't take St. John's Wort because it counteracts some other meds I'm on and the stop gap health insurance we are getting is for emergencies and does not cover pre-exisitings, so I'm screwed if I get a scrip before this weekend, and I'm screwed if I don't. Oh, well. I've done depressed before. I'm being meticulous about my prayers, about exercise and good with my sleep and eating.

I think I'll go fetch a tall glass of water.

I hope whoever reads this blog is feeling better today than I am. Say a prayer for us, and especially that W would get a sufficiently paying job. I hate being chronically ill. We both know that I don't have the stamina to work full time.

God bless.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dreams of German Food....

I had visions of a nice beef and mushroom hunter sauce over linguine noodles.

Instead, the results were less than stellar. I made a few mistakes, and the sauce ended up a grayish color, like a bad-weather day in the land o' bland.

Components:

onions
mushrooms
spoon full of minced garlic
oil
salt
pepper
wine
pre-cooked ground beef
dried herbs from my friend's garden
flour for thickening
water

What I did:

sautee onions, add in mushrooms, beef, garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, cook until hot and onions tender, taste, be dismayed, add more salt and pepper, add some wine, watch onions turn grayish purple color, decide it needs more liquid so add some water that had flour whisked into it, watch it turn into grayish elmer-glue-like concoction with onion and beef.

Oh, disaster. I remembered something from a cooking show I accidentally watched in a motel room one time (we are on the road trip cable plan) that said fat brings out flavor, so I added a few pats of butter to the meaty glue mixture. More salt. That helped render it at least servable. The butter really did bring out the flavor...somewhat.

At table I added parmesan cheese and more salt and it was decent. Not like I had to worry about the kids eating it, anyways. Green beans on the side.

What I SHOULD HAVE DONE:

Use a bit more oil and actually let the onions caramelize before going on the the next step. Add garlic and let it cook with the caramelizing onions. I was too hasty.
Use fresh mushrooms, AFTER the onions are brown and sweet.
The herbs were good, etc.

The beef I used had been cooked and drained and rinsed so it was fairly tasteless and very low in fat. But that was the point, I guess (at least the reduced calories gained by rinsing.) How to rinse without getting rid of flavor?????

Skip the wine and use boullion instead, to perk up the flavor...

Ah, forget it! Next time I'll just go buy some Knorr or Maggi hunter sauce mix and be done with it...

No way down from this cross

...and I"m tired
in a purple funk/depressed
I pretty much hate myself.
I try to bear up under the load that is my life in a saintly and prayerful way, but I fail miserably time and again.
I'm:
tired of uncertaintly
tired of being in pain
tired of functioning with not enough resources (physical, financial, energy, space...you name it)
tired of stupid people who have known me for years and still don't GET that while they go on to the next fun thing in their lives, I go home and crawl into bed.
tired of stupid self who treats me like I'm well when I'm sick
tired of dh not having a job
tired of getting up in the morning to cook breakfast
tired of the way it's like pulling chicken teeth to get people to take responsibility for cleaning up after themselves
tired of my hair
tired of the way I look
tired of the fact that each time I bend over to pick something up off the floor I can palpably feel my energy levels draining out of my body (and once it's gone it's gone for the day, forget whatever else I'd like to do).
tired of my lack of solitude
why does it have to be so hard to follow Christ?
I'm
tired of this cross
but there's no way down
so here I hang.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Word-uh of God-uh for You Today

For some reason "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." is going through my head.

A slight contrast to my sing-songy "I hate fibromyalgia!" that was going through my ungrateful head earlier. Not that the verse of Scripture is actually making my heart more grateful...but at least I know that the Holy Spirit is not neglecting to show me where my heart SHOULD be, eh?

So, I get to choose....choose....choose. {Forces self to be grateful for many obnoxious things...doh!}

ah....that's better. {checks her fingertips}...still not glowing. {Checks the ground}...still not floating yet.

{Checks her knees}...still not calloused, either.

he he he. Who am I kidding, right? Lord have mercy on me a sinner.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tofurky Report

Bratwurst-style meatless product....

Is very bready. Like bread with bratwurst spices in it. Not worth the steep price tag (we had a gift card and decided to do an experiment).

If you are vegan have have been forever, this product might be just the thing if you are at a cook-out or somesuch.

If, however, you enjoy meats of all kinds on a regular basis, tofurky will most likely be less than appealing to you and the beans you made as a side dish will gladly get eaten instead.

While eating tofurky we had an interesting lunch time conversation/debate surrounding the possibilities of nanotechnology building better meatless meat products by way of atomic rearrangement. Call it nanomeat. The peta crowd might actually approve. My husband, on the other hand, would rather eat beans and critters, as appropriate.

My thoughts: It might actually be the pharisee phood of the phuture that would enable this hypoglycemic to take Lent to a whole new level....who knows?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

May Contain Traces of Nuts

Seriously...

I was at a gathering on Friday night (the ill-fated contra dancing) and got a store bought chocolate chipe cookie off the snack table (way major sugar free diet cheat!). I've eaten store bought cookies before and even though some of them have that little allergy warning, for some reason I wasn't thinking.

Well, for some reason, before biting into it, I turned the cookie over and looked at the bottom. There, right there in the middle, was about an eighth of a peanut. Guardian Angel working over time, I guess.

I need to be more careful.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Call it like you see it....

Paragraph two is particularly "funny":

"Firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of Nablus' Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches. At least five firebombs hit the Anglican church and its door was later set ablaze. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames

In a phone call to The Associated Press, a group calling itself the "Lions of Monotheism" claimed responsibility for those attacks, saying they were carried out to protest the Pope's remarks in a speech this week in Germany linking Islam and violence.

Later Saturday, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus' Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them afire. They also opened fire on the buildings, striking both with bullets.

In Gaza City, militants opened fire from a car at a Greek Orthodox church, striking the facade. A policeman at the scene said he saw a car armed men inside flee the scene. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday, causing minor damage. "

Friday, September 15, 2006

In which she becomes a wallflower

I fell in love with the idea of contra dancing when I danced at Joy and Josh's wedding in July. I had so much fun.

In August Dh and I had a date to go out dancing but my rib was out of joint and my back generally out of whack so we stayed home.

Tonight was the night. We went. I only was able to dance the first, sit out the second, and then on the third I got pretty dizzy, and by the fourth I had to bail, several minutes into the dance I went staggering towards the nearest wall and just clung to it for a few minutes. I got so dizzy and nauseous that I just about threw up. Dh had fun, though. Everyone else danced for hours. Sigh. Some of the experienced dancers were a true pleasure to watch.

Next time there's open band night, I'm bringing my guitar.

So Much for the American Lifestyle!

I've been thinking about how our food choices affect our lifestyle: fast food, deli meats, sandwiches on the go (even if self righteously made at home), sliced bread, etc. etc. Go go go.

It's been nice this week, with my husband at home, to not have to pack sandwiches for him every day. Now, honestly, I'm fervently prayering for a return of sandwich packing when he gets a job (oh, please God, soon!) but in the mean time it's been lots of soup. Soup is good. Soup is cheap. Soup lasts and lasts...

Soup is not portable, because who keeps a thermos around these days? Perhaps that is an investment worth considering. WHY does all our food need to be so portable? That's what I'm asking.

So, now I hear, speaking of sandwiches, via a New York times article, that bacteriophagic soup is sprayed on deli meats to kill certain bacteria, in lieu of cleaning up processing plants...and this is supposed to be good for us HOW? I think not.

The salmon patties I promised to blog about were just sort of there. They were good dipped in ketchup. Only half my kids ate them. Par for the course. Next time I think I'll make them with cracker crumbs instead of just flour. Or perhaps with less flour. They were too bready.

You think you can have your starbucks and your cute figure? Think again. Same NYT article...those 20 oz. things are loaded. Thanks be to God I'm a starbucks virgin. I have not even had those bottled starbucks coffees that can be got at the grocery store. By now, it's a game with myself, not to have any. I have, however, over the course of my weight loss journey started drinking my coffee black. It's one of those permanent lifestyle changes...a few hundred calories a day chopped off by surrendering that real cream addiction developed in my low carb days. That, and walking, and portion control. And walking. an portion control. The jeans don't lie.

And I realize I'm rambling, writing poorly and saying nothing. So, let me at it again: Food. How does our eating style reflect our values and our lifestyle and our (dare I say it?) theology?

We orthodox, strive to have certain days when we don't eat meat...for all of the reasons people don't eat meat. Resect for life, preservation of resources, spiritual discipline, taming of the flesh, opportunity to give to the poor, increased prayer and fasting, etc. etc. etc. So, there's some theology packed in that package.

But I"m hearing a conversation now, that has lots to do with sustainability, organic stuff, preservation of the earth...there's overlap, but it's not ALL the same. And there is some good theology there, too. Some careful thinking.

But there's one thing that keeps coming back to MY mind that I think needs to be said: How can this food theology be presented in such a way that it is accessible to ALL? Even to all in this very rich country. Every time I start thinking about it, I start looking around, sometimes into my own pocketbook and pantry, and at other times at my neighbors, and I start wondering: in an urban poor or semi-poor setting, how is this conversation relevant? How can a "food theology", if you will, that enshrines a new sort of organic free-range holiness be accessible to the "common person"?

Because this would cause division within in body of Christ along class lines, once again. "We are holy because we embrace the new holiness, we make holy organic free range food choices, and you are poor so you get the white bread government cheese castoffs that we reject as being to good for US....." I've never actually heard anyone say this, but I really believe the danger is there for this sort of division to develop. Do we speed past the guy with the carboard sign while we are headed to the farmer's market? Or Walmart? Whatever....just what's bouncing in my head.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Know your Food

In the spirit of sustainability, living and eating closer to one's food sources and due to the fact that we've been studying early American history/lifestyles in our home school, I have composed the following endless ditty: (Really I just wanted an excuse to make chickin noises while picking my guitar):

Chickin in the barnyard
Farmer with an axe
Chickin in the barnyard
Farmer with an axe
Chickin in the barnyard
Farmer with an axe
...Farmer wins

Veggies in the garden
Junior has a hoe
Veggies in the garden
Junior has a hoe
Veggies in the garden
Junior has a hoe
...Bring some in

Chickin in the crockpot
Mama rolls the dough
Chickin in the crockpot
Mama rolls the dough
Chickin in the crockpot
Mama rolls the dough
...Put it in

Dinner on the table
Chickin dumplin stew
Dinner on the table
Chickin dumplin stew
Dinner on the table
Chickin dumplin stew
...Call the Kin

Mama's in the kitchen
cleaning up the mess
Mama's in the kitchen
cleaning up the mess
Mama's in the kitchen
cleaning up the mess
...Begin again

Buck is in the forrest
Junior has a gun
Buck is in the forrest
Junior has a gun
Buck is in the forrest
Junior has a gun
...Venison! {Prounounced Ve-ni-sin}

Veggies in the cellar
winter comin' in
Veggies in the cellar
winter comin' in
Veggies in the cellar
winter comin' in
...check the bin

Meat is in the pan
while Sissy makes the dough
Meat is in the pan
while Sissy makes the dough
Meat is in the pan
while Sissy makes the dough
...Roll it thin

Pie is in the Oven
Daddy says a prayer
Pie is in the oven
Daddy says a prayer
Pie is in the oven
Daddy says a prayer
...Dig right in

Mama's in the kitchen
cleaning up the mess
Mama's in the kitchen
cleaning up the mess
Mama's in the kitchen
cleaning up the mess
...Begin again

etc. etc. etc.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hillbilly shoppin' and cookin'

Well, going with the pantry method of keeping the kitchen stocked, in the interest of saving as much cashola as possible (that is, making the amount of grocery money I have budegeted to spend last as many weeks as I possibly can) I have been getting inspired at hillbillyhousewife.com, as I mentioned before.

I thought I was frugal, but there was so much fat to cut! Now, granted, I have lots of meat I'd bought on sale in the freezer still, but today, planning on cooking all from scratch but NOT planning on mixing my own milk from dry milk powder, I only spend $57.00 for food. That's for six people for a week. Many basics we are stocked up on like oats, and meat and flour and sugar, etc.

I also learned that I can make really yummy split pea soup: sautee an onion, rinse and sort the split peas, add them and eight cups of water. 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. cardamon, 1 tsp. sambhar masala spice. Bring to boil and simmer until tender and...you know, split-pea-soupish. Yuuuuuumy! I was worried about it tasting not so good without any boullion or meat, but it was really good.

Later this week I'm gonna try making salmon patties. I'll blog about how those turn out.

Might I recommend....

..the Onion Dome? Of course readers of this blog saw it here first...but still. Proud as a peacock that some of my humor got published there.

Also, page 47 of the current Handmaiden isn't half bad, either....he he he.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Just Life

Nothing much to write about.

Homeschooling....check
Dh job hunting/starting his own business....check
Sunday School starts this Sunday and I'm the teacher....check
Way majorly stressed out about everything....check
Trying not to be....check

The matins psalms have been a comfort lately.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Wine, Old Wineskins....

Being an all-converts-all-the-time parish (no wait, there's that russian lady and her mother who come now, and all the kids we've had...)...OK, mostly-all-converts-mostly-all-the-time...we all bring our experiences from various backgrounds into Orthodoxy with us.

One of those things is Sunday School. We have a wonderful Sunday School in our parish. We love our kids. We have piles of them too. We not only want to teach them at home, we want to teach them at Church. And we do. Dedicated teachers, brilliant Sunday School directors...you know the drill.

But something is niggling on my mind. And it is this: When Sunday School starts at 9 a.m. (and it IS alot of work), and the Divine Liturgy does not start until 10 a.m. (and it is also alot of work) it really really reduces the number of people who can effectively fully participate in the pre-eucharistic fast. (Not that it's really any of my business, so I'm speaking of myself here.) 10 am DL with a half a day's work in advance of it? I get up, I cook food for common meal, I get my family ready and out the door, I teach Sunday School....this would leave me exhausted and hungry on any day, even WITH breakfast. And I AM exhausted on Sundays, even WITH breakfast (hypoglycemic I am, and all, health concerns, yadayadayada...but it bothers me that I can't cut down more, fast better, participate in the life of the Church more.)

I know I'm going out on a limb here, but it seems to me that we have a clash of paradigms going on here: do we prepare to meet Christ through Bible stories, on an intellectual and rational level, or do we as Orthodox prepare to meet Christ through taking in his Body and His Blood in the Eucharist FIRST, without then neglecting the study of the Holy Scriptures as well? And what are we teaching our kids this way, really? Is our late start time preventing people who otherwise would from coming forward for communion?

And I'm not saying Christian Ed. is not important. Goodness knows I work hard to make it happen, and I have a heart for it. But more and more I'm starting to wonder if it needs to happen some time OTHER than right before Eucharist, first thing Sunday morning?

What if Divine Liturgy were at eight o'clock or eight-thirty? It'd be over by ten. More people could fast more fully and the day would be open for the rest of it: the Sunday School, the meal together, etc. after that.

Is this not perhaps a case where we have New Wine, but we are trying to let it mature in our old wineskins?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This one's not a joke!

I rediscovered a really cool website this morning: Hillbillyhousewife.com

It is full of plain down-home good sense/cents, money saving menus and lookit, folks, the $45.00 menu (complete pantry for a family of 4, family of six modifications brings it up to a whopping $51.00) looks remarkably (almost) lenten. I'll fess up and admit that it's more lenten than anything ever seen around here, that's for sure.

Now, I'm wondering how this would modify for health issues, etc. but I'm thinking it's time to have another stab at eating legumes. As time goes by, my hypoglycemia is improving along with the general improvements in my fibro and much that at one time I attributed to hypoglycemia MIGHT have been reactions to peanuts (might, maybe, some not all). I just have to experiment and find out...perhaps the hard way.

Anyways, anyone interested in seriously cheap eats, I recommend this site. Not only does she provide menu plans, but also shopping lists, and daily food prep chores (what to do when) to keep the kitchen fires humming. Scratch cooking does take some advance planning, but not as much workywork as one might guess.

This morning I got up and made coffee cake. Only half the family ate it, though. and that's the REAL TRICK with any menu, now isn't it?