Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mystery Bite



I discovered this on my leg today while I was still at Church. I had a mild itch, reached down to scratch it and unexpectedly felt a lump. Naturally I looked at what I was feeling and: WOW! The whole thing is over an inch in every direction. The blurry red mark in the center is actually three tiny dots: two bigger and one smaller, in a triangular pattern. The white part in the middle is hard and raised, and then there's the bruise around the whole thing.

I know it wasn't here yesterday, since that's when I shaved my legs last. Oy, vey! I'll keep watching it before I decide whether I go rushing off to the doctor. I'll let everyone know if I develop super powers or amazing climbing abilities.

If anyone knows what it looks like, let me know.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Applebees

does not have a very food-allergy sensitive policy. I spoke with the manager before dining there, and the best he could do was give me a card with a phone number on it, for "Applebee's central command". I could call there during business hours and talk to a representative. Meanwhile grand high pubah does not even disclose to Applebee's managers what all is in their menu items.

He WAS able to assure me that they don't use peanut oil. They use vegetable oil...which I assured him was most likely soy (it could be corn, buy I think soy is usually cheaper and veggie oil is just a euphemis for "whatever's cheapest oil".

I only ended up with a mildly itchy mouth that a good drink of water cured.

The waitress, on the other hand, was appalling. Not to mention her pierced tongue. Call me old fashioned, but it was distinctly unappetizing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Storms were moving in yesterday in waves. The weather went from sunny to rainy, back to sunny and then REALLY rainy, followed immediately by a rainbow and some sunshine. Fortunately, I was able to get out of doors with the kids for a littel while, letting them run off some energy at the park while I walked in circles around them.

But unfortunately, and mysteriously, my bread failed. Since going GFCF with my family, I've been having to make all our bread. Usually I make a loaf about every other day, or every third day, depending, and that is all we need. I refrigerate the loaf before slicing, so the crust changes texture and the bread gets firm, and that way I can get about 20 thin slices per loaf...the same number as from store bought bread. It's quick and easy, and since I'm home all the time, I may as well. My goal is to not have an increase in our grocery budget. A stiff task, that, and one that involves cooking from scratch.

So, the bread: I did what I always do. Followed the recipe as usual. And it was horrible. Nice and almost too crusty on the outside, but it was as though the inside did not even cook...or half-baked...that's what it looked like. There was a big hole along the top, under the crust, and the rest was just goo.

Needless to say, that bread ended up in the garbage after we munched on some of the crusty parts. (I'll admit, I ended up eating too many carbs yesterday and having a bit of a stomach ache). It was disappointing, after the work of baking the bread, to have no fruit for my labor, and it made me realize how much I've been taking for granted that everything will turn out alright in my kitchen. I've been very humanistic in my cooking (and surely in many other ways too.)

As I was making the pancakes this morning (my dd agreed to take a pancake sandwich to school, and dh agreed, after much laborious arm twisting on my part...NOT!... to go out to the nice Indian restaurant with the guys at work for lunch) I was thinking of "give us this day our daily bread". Hopefully I will learn to pray more, even in my kitchen.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Insomnia


I've had a great deal of trouble sleeping through the night for a long time. I blamed my fibromyalgia. I blamed my hypoglycemia (it makes sense that a blood sugar crash at 3 am would wake a person up, doesn't it?)

This past week, I've been sleeping like a baby. So nice. And no drugs, either. In fact, I've been liberalizing my diet somewhat and feeling healthier than ever. Who knew, but Basmati rice is only 50 or so on the GI scale, and raw honey is very close to that number as well (55). Even with rice for a bed time snack, I still slept through the night last night. So much for the hypoglycemia theory.

How could this be? Raw honey? In my diet? It actually seems to be a self liminting food. And, it is highly nutritious, and just a little bit is enough. So I know I'm not overdoing it.

So, why am I sleeping so well? How does this add up? What is different? I've been scratching my head all week, trying to figure out why I'm sleeping so well.

This morning the "what is different" hit me: Splenda. I gave up splenda. Just stopped. I've been doing some reading on the internet. Why do I believe the media every single time? Made with sugar so it tastes like sugar. What rot!

This is something that I recognized about myself during lent...this wanting, this wanting more. Wanting to literally have my cake and eat it too. It's the same as a sugar addiction only it's an ersatz sugar addiction. And I wondered if it was having more of an effect on me than just making me want more sple nda. What if?

So I stopped. The last thing I made with the last of my splenda actually went into the garbage can after the first bite. I just didn't want it any more. That was over a week ago, now. I think I'll give God credit for that one. Obviously, left to my own devices, I'm not so smart.

And I"m sleeping. And I figured I'd best just quit the diet soda habit as well, whether splenda or aspartame sweetened. Heck, I KNOW aspartame is bad for me! But I drank it anyways. How foolish, foolish, foolish I am!

So, last night on the way home from Church I had to get gas, and the habit was to always grab a caffeine free diet Pepsi in such a situation. No more. I had to force myself to avoid it. I got a Perrier instead. It's really the bubbles that I wanted. Those I can have. Perrier never tasted so good.

So, I gave up splenda, aspartame, saccharine....and I feel very very good. More balanced, physically. And I'm sleeping at night. What a change!

Splenda trivia: it was discovered accidentally by chemists looking for a new pesticide. Hmmm, isn't that how Aspartame was discovered?

It has chemically more in common with pesticide than it does with sugar, even though it is partially a sugar molecule...with chlorine added in place of some hydrogen (I think...something like that.)

Perhaps we should start guzzling DDT, too. Maybe it tastes sweet as well?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Highlights



Today I finally found (it was lost!) a beautiful book on praying the rosary that a friend had given me for Pascha. I only used it once, and after that it just disappeared. Turns out, the couch had swallowed it. I'd slid the couch out from the wall, but apparently it had gotten kicked down to the other end, where I only sort of swiveled the couch when I was looking for it. Today I was inspired to ask for help, and my dh actually lifted the thing (too heavy for me) and there it was...along with lots of pencils, an alarm clock that kept going off every morning at 7:45 am, and some rather large dust bunnies.

I was so happy to have found it. It has the appropriate icons on the page opposite of the prayers for each of the mysteries...most of them from St. Catherine's monastery on Mt. Sinai. (An aside: My Sunday School students were so cute a few weeks ago, when we were learning about Moses going up the mountain to receive the law from God, and I mentioned that now there is an Orthodox monastery on the very same mountain. Their little eyes sort of got big and round and they were in awe. Continuity is a beautiful thing!) So, my precious new book is found, and I'm glad.

Another nice thing that happened today is that I went down to Vespers BY MYSELF! It was so nice not to have to ride herd on the kiddos. And then I had an actual conversation with an actual adult person afterwards. That was cool. Vespers was beautiful. After the litany, we did an akathist. I love singing the melody for the akathists. The only way I know the music is because I have one on CD. So, I was able to sing along and the music is so ethereal, and just hits the right spot in my brain to make me happy. Finally, this week, the dry spell I've been in is lifting. Finally a little bit of Paschal joy is seeping in to my withered soul. I don't think I'll ever take such joy for granted. This year has been weird that way. Everyone around me all happy and me just feeling like a dishrag.

Christ is Risen!

Feelin' Good


Working out...I just love it. It's simple and methodical. I write down what I do. I have a nice chart, and I love filling in the numbers. So many reps/so many pounds. And it tells me exactly how far to push myself and when to expect more from myself. Very simple, systematic, and so far I've never accidentally dropped a dumb-bell on my foot or anything stupid like that. Low risk activity.

So, I"m feeling sort of buff right now, under my layer of mom-fat. Unfortunately, I tend to get rather bulky muscles for a female. NOT one of the lucky ones who can work out and get slim and pretty. Oh, no! Because THAT would obviously not be "good for my salvation" or whatever Christian-ese spin I want to put on it. (I get in moods where I hyperspiritualize EVERYTHING...duh, that's what this entire BLOG is, isn't it?) But, when it comes down to it, I think I'd rather have muscle shaped strong bumps than fat shaped weak bumps. Right now, I have both.

Maybe by the end of May I will have upped my weights a notch or two.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ouch


I have an earache.

Mustard Seed Living


One of the biggest temptations that I have been facing lately is the temptation towards dissatisfaction. People whom I consider my peers, both IRL and in the blogosphere are just so much "more" than I am. More out there, more significant, more successful, more special, more involved at whatever. And here I am. Nowhere to go. No car to go nowhere in. Very much alone.

And it is a really hard thing to really embrace where God has put me during these days of my life. There is this stillness. The stillness was a gift when I was more sick than I am now. It is still a gift, but the bonds are chafing a little bit. But the fact is, I do wonder if I even COULD do more. Probably not.

And its such a sin to compare myself with others. For one thing, I always come up on the loosing end of the comparison. I've not started any businesses. I've not gotten paid to write articles. I've not started any great novel (I humbly realize that I do not have what it takes to write more than a blog, a few songs, and a poem now and then.) I have not even achieved my weight loss goals. If I look at myself from an outward or worldly perspective, I'm pretty darned unsuccessful. Stymied just by being me. Can't ever stick with anything long enough to finish.

And even personal goals that I've publicly announced here on this blog, such as my grand housekeeping schedule (nice in theory!) or my decision NOT to drink coffee anymore or my attempts to loose weight...all gone by the wayside. I even struggle each day sometimes to do the necessary things, like pray. And I certainly can't do much of anything with my hair! My whole life feels like the journey up and up and before reaching any goals, a slippery slide back down again.

But it's quiet down here at the bottom of the mountain. There is simplicity here at the bottom of the mountain. Here is humility. Sounds like the Kingdom of God. Sounds like a "blessed are...", or perhaps a mustard seed. I think I tested allergic to mustard seeds, actually. Just my luck.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Why I Love Mondays

quiet
go nowhere
quiet
clean the kitchen
quiet
read a good book
quiet
work out
quiet
prayers
quiet
time to catch my breath
quiet
home made food
quiet
home schooling
quiet

Friday, April 20, 2007

Boyfriend Season Is Here!

One of the things I like about blogger is it's remarkable lack of ads and junk like that. I was just over at myspace commenting on someone else's blog and a HUGE ad popped up with a model perfect guy on it. True.com want's me to know that Boyfriend Season is Here! Woo Hooo!

Quick, let me rush out and tell my husband that Boyfriend Season is Here! I'm sure he'll be THRILLED....especially when I tell him that I nominate him for the job! Seriously, though. I'm SO GLAD to be married/unavailable/off the market/out of the dating scene/etc. What a relief to be settled down and happy.

Verdant


Today I attacked the green grass with a vengeance. It was tall, almost hay-like in it's qualities. I'm sure the neighbors are very glad that I got rid of the spring time growth. First mowing of the season, and long over due.

Then I got out the electric hedge trimmers and did the hedges...well, at least the four ones in the front of the house. Wes and I have the eternal debate about our side bushes. I particularly love the privacy of a leafy screen in front of the kitchen window, but he prefers them short. Well, I guess he can trim those, if he must. Besides....my arms are very shaky right now.

For some reason mowing the yard is one of those despicable activities that makes me pray. Probably because I hate the job so much. It's not the physicality of it all that bothers me, but rather the fumes. I really enjoyed the electric hedge trimmer part. It's just the stinky gas powered lawn mower that drives me bonkers. And then the gas always sloshes on my hands when I refill the gas tank, etc. and I end up reeking of the stuff all day.

It's nice to have the work done. I've been having a hard time since Pascha...with various things. Pray for me.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Unexpected Autism (April is Autism Awareness Month)




I'm feeling pensive today. I woke up sick, and slept in a little bit, then had to get up and do some things in the kitchen. That turned in to the whole morning spent cleaning out my cupboards and getting rid of gluten-containing foods.

You see, my 13 year old daughter is Autistic. It sounds harsh to say that. She's on the spectrum, and actually has Asperger's Syndrome. She is very intelligent, reliable, moral, good, sweet and kind, creative, dilligent and modest. She also hits herself in the head, shrieks uncontrollably when upset, stims by rocking or banging her head against the wall. What a bundle of contrast. This kid has a higher IQ than I do. When she was younger she'd keep a constant tally in her head of the number of syllables being spoken in a conversation, for instance.

The other day she came to me and asked to be put on the gluten free/casein free diet. She had been reading about it. I'd mentioned it to her a year or so ago, and she didn't want to then. Besides, I wasn't ready to force the issue. When kids are wee little, mom has total control of what goes into their mouths, but by middle school...not so much.

We started the diet within the day, and it has made a huge difference for her. Another reason I'd waited so long was that I was not informed enough to know that it can help Aspies as well as kids who are further onto the autistic spectrum, more classically autistic, with their symptoms. But it can. The difference is noticeable. And when we have an accidental infraction, it is obvious to both her and others.

So I decided, since two out of three of my other kids have some "spectrum symptoms" as well, that I'd just put the whole family on the GFCF diet. (I might retain some cheese and cream in my diet since I've got other issues, can't have the grains, and have to have something quick I can grab if my hypoglycemia goes kerplunk...but I can buy stinky cheeses that the kids hate. Bwahahaha!)

So today was that...cleaning out old flour cannisters that we'd finally emptied, etc. Doing lots of scrub downs of surfaces...and then some baking of gluten free bread and rolls, some making of popcorn for the kid's snacks, etc.

And while I was doing that, I was thinking. About the past. About this daughter of mine who really is no longer even a child. She turns 13 this week. It seems like yesterday when she was a newborn, put into my arms. I knew everything would be perfect. I would breastfeed and she would be healthy. I would do everything right and she would turn out right. Like a mathematical equation. And I would have it all under control. I did breastfeed. She was healthy. And normal. And bright. I thought. But then...not so much. Life got complicated.

I'm racking my brain to think of when her precise and precocious speech turned abnormally high pitched. I think it was when she was three...shortly after I weaned her. But maybe it was always that way. I didn't think anything of it though. Did not know it was a marker. It was just "her". I remember she'd get lots of ear infections as a toddler. She had all her shots on time, and I did not notice any adverse reactions, or any big regressions. But now I wonder about them. She walked at age nine months. For her second birthday she said: "I want a yellow lemon cake and balloons!" By the time she was well into her fourth year I knew she was different. But I couldn't put my finger on HOW she was different. Very very verbal and smart, and I worried that if I put her into school, she would be pigeonholed as ADHD and I knew that would not be right. She could read at age three. I mistakenly thought I was super mom for having shown her how to read by looking at letters on the tabloid covers at the checkout line of the grocery store. That was hyperlexia. She would play with her character toys by lining them up...over and over again. I thought it was cute to see a little line of plastic Winnie the Pooh characters and various Happy Meal toys lined up precisely on the edge of the coffee table. The block structures she built were astonishingly complex and beautiful, like Schloss Neuschwanstein or the Hagia Sophia...complex, intricate and visually well-balanced, with secret walkways, turrets, spires, towers, lairs...Ok, maybe I interpreted the simple wooden blocks as such, but I have never seen a child's block play result in the things she built...before or since.

Her tantrums were amazing, and we got admonished by our church's minister and his wife...if only we disciplined her better, more consistently...she would not be the way she was. It was our responsibility, this out-of-control-ness. We ought to spank her more. And for goodness sake stop going to La Leche League meetings, since those were the cause of our parental indecisiveness, to be sure! --How horrible. I'm glad we are not there anymore. Sometimes I want to call those people up on the telephone and say: "Do you remember my daughter, and how you accused us of bad parenting???? Do You? Well, she's AUTISTIC!" In your face, so there! I guess I'm still a little bit angry about that lack of understanding. Getting a diagnosis is a good thing.

That, however, did not come until this past year. We literally muddled through her childhood.

My point to this story: Life's journey can take some unexpected twists and turns. If anyone had told me starting out what all my life would bring, I don't think I would have had the courage....this trial, other trials, I've been very blessed. The trials ARE the blessings.

And through it all I have learned so much. I'm no longer afraid of the odd person who sits alone in the back pew...every church or school has at least one, I think: Slightly unkempt, social outcast, odd clothing, weird body language...for some reason most neuro-typicals are somewhat afraid of folks like that. The reason is, we humans have complex and unwritten rules of behavior, body language, boundaries, etc. and when these things get violated it creeps us out. We wonder about the other person's motives. We feel like we are in danger of being stalked. And all it is is a breakdown in non-verbal communication. Nothing sinister. Just that. Like culture shock.

April is Autism Awareness Month. Think kind thoughts about the next mother you see with a tantruming child. That child might be autistic. And no, you couldn't do it better than she can. 1 out of every 150 kids is now on the autistic spectrum. It's scary. Back in 1970 it was 1 in 10,000. Something is very wrong.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Overload

I've heard it said that in so many ways we are living in a toxic soup. Think about it. There is air pollution, water pollution, things like chlorine and floride added to our water in unnatural amounts (which is worse for us, bacteria or chlorine? Floride may be good for our teeth but is it bad for the rest of us?), estrogen-mimicking compounds leaching into our water supply from various pesticide run-off sources...

And then there are things like Aspartame. Is it or isn't it a neurotoxin? Red food coloring? Blue food coloring? Yellow? Even something like marshmallows has blue food coloring! Can you believe it! Monosodium Glutamate. Another neuroexcitotoxin. That, along with Aspartame give me a buzz. Am I addicted? I used to be addicted to diet cokes. They still call my name. Or by another name: Crystal Light. It's the ersatz juice I like to pretend I deserve. What am I doing to myself drinking it.

Which is worse, the sugar or the artificial crap used to replace the sugar? That is the question, now isn't it? How about none of the above?

And how about our dairy products. Setting aside the question of whether humans ideally should be eating those, there are the questions about hormones and crap that are pumped into the cows. Don't even get me started on our toxic meat supply. Or our toxic veggie supply. Yikes. Just thinking about it all gives me the heebiejeebies, and a goodly dose of mom-guilt.

And yet, and yet, and yet...there are those who claim we are not sick! But why, all of a sudden, does one in ten persons have fibromyalgia? Why are there suddenly so many autistic kids? The HELL it's not making us all sick! Some are just more sensitive than others.

And the big lie is, that it won't matter, that food has to be cheap. Since when is food supposed to be cheap? And easy? Since when does food NOT take effort? We want it all and we act like we deserve it all with very little effort on our part. What does that say about us as a country?

It's all an overload. And for some of us "sensitives"...the canaries in the mine shaft that we are... things really are proving to be too much. If you are healthy, I advise you to look at those of us who are sick and wonder WHEN it will hit your family. Perhaps it won't be your children. Perhaps it will be your grand children. Or if you are very hale and hearty, your great grand children.

But eventually, this overload of crap, toxicity, poison, hormones, rushing hither and yon in big pollution spewing vehicles, and this nation wide lack of sanity will get you. It will.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

GFCF Cooking

As I mentioned a few posts ago, my daughter has decided to try the Gluten Free/Casein Free diet. She is saying that it is giving her good results for some of her brain symptoms. (Google GFCF diet and Autism if you don't know what I"m talking about and care.)

So, this week I've been experimenting with some gluten free cooking and meal-making. I'm kind of enjoying the change of what is on my table. Not that, strictly speaking, I'm supposed to be eating much of what I put on my table...

Tonight we had Tacos. Yeah, brilliant. We skipped the cheese and went for lean ground beef, organic leafy greens, salsa and sauteed onions with chilli and cumin. Ok, I knew none of the kids would like the onions so I did them in a butter/oil mix. I read somewhere that the oil helps decrease the smoking point of the butter. At any rate, they were delish. I got spicy and the kids dined in the land-o-bland like they are wont to do.

I came upon a very successful gluten/casein free yeast bread this afternoon. The exciting thing about this recipe is that it does not contain potato starch, of which I currently have none (I ran out, and it's expensive.) But at the Asian food market, I can get both rice flour, sweet rice flour and tapioca starch for a mere pittance: Fifty-nine cents a pound! This is a fraction of the cost of gluten free flours and the trendy, upscale health-food coop. I'm stoked. And shopping at the Asian market exposes one to all sorts of mysterious Asian things that look intriguing....large bags of dried mushrooms (very large bags) for only nine dollars...for instance.

At any rate, the bread was good, it had a crust texture of white bread that we got in Switzerland, and the inside had a very "normal" texture, thanks to the guar gum powder I added.

I also am happy to report that I baked a gfcf pizza this week. I used the gluten free flours to make the crust, and found some gfcf soy cheese-type thingy (mozzarella style!) at the coop. I tried a piece just because I had to know what I was serving up (not on MY diet, but it IS bright week!) and my dd gleefully gobbled down all the rest. Pizza is back on the menu at our house! Another family favorite.

Yesterday was easy: a twelve pound turkey in the oven, still frozen solid. Slow cooked. By mid-afternoon it was done and so we dined on turkey and rice for dinner.

The last gfcf thing to mention: a product called Darifree. It is a milk substitute and no, it's actually not soy or rice based, but rather potato based. Once the stuff is mixed properly, it looks and almost tastes like cows milk. And it's got the calcium and stuff mixed in. It is dreadfully expensive, especially once shipping is factored in (That almost doubled my price!) But so very good! WAY nicer then soy or rice milk. Here is a link to my favorite GFCF recipes.


Why do I like writing about food so much? I'm forever blogging about food! What's up with that?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Slug

I've been such a slug this week. Lying around in my p.j.'s reading novels and loosely supervising school work. Monday I didn't even TRY to make the kids do anything. It feels good to be lazy, but I"m sort of ready to do a little bit more tomorrow.

Yeah, still recovering from Holy Week and Pascha. That's what it is.

Today I put a turkey in the oven so dinner was a snap, and now we have all this delicious meat in the fridge waiting to become sandwiches. Yum.

All four of my kids were ACTUALLY invited to a birthday party! I was so excited. That doesn't happen very often in our family. So when it does, it's a special treat. And there were these totally adorable bunny rabbits that the birthday boy had gotten for his main gift, I think. A cool hutch up on legs in the living room with both a cage door and a lift-up top, and the bottom of the cage had the drawer-type thing under it for the "bunny-litter" to go. Looked very easy to keep clean. My girls especially liked holding the rabbits (shhh, don't tell....so did I...). But no, we aren't about to own any. Our cats would atrophy, or go catatonic or something from doing nothing but sitting in front of the bunny cage if we had such creatures around here.

Tomorrow I am DETERMINED to do laundry, be diligent and actually tidy up the living room. That will be a treat. To that end, I'd better get off here and go read some more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Truly He is Risen!

One of my favorite Bright Week activities is randomly shouting Christ is Risen! at the top of my lungs as I go about my day. Usually in threes. So far there is always some willing kid to shout the appropriate response, followed by comments such as: "Mom, you find the weirdest times to say that!" Bwahahaha!

Yesterday, though, I spent hardly moving from my chair. Our furnace gave out, finally, and we are weathering this cold snap with a borrowed space heater. It is in the low-mid sixties in our house, so not too bad, but a mug of something creamy and warm seems most welcome, as are abundant blankets. The weather will warm up soon, and then our house will be warmer again. Upstairs, I'm happy to say, is nice and toasty, as we have baseboard heaters up there, and tomorrow I plan on heating up the kitchen by slow baking a turkey all day. Yummmmy!

The temptation for me is to really let down my hair and not pray at all this week. God forgive me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Most of All

Yesterday, as I was busy fixing paschal foods all afternoon, I was experiencing a wee bit of self pity and more than a wee bit of grumpiness. Ok, more than a wee bit of self pity. Everyone was looking forward to the feast. Except for me. The only foods (when one is pitying oneself one never has a realistic view of things) I would be able to eat, I was thinking to myself, were all the sugar free things I brought myself. And the same for my gluten free, casein free daughter. And what was there to look forward to in THAT? The only reason everyone is getting happy, it seemed to me, is the food. Not the resurrection. How much, in this moment, do I really CARE about it? It all seemed so far away, and I so exhausted.

I truly did not think I would make it. But as usual, once I got there, I picked up a second wind. (Note the recurrent "I's" in the above sentences...). Whoever invented the idea of out-of-doors liturgical processions is brilliant, simply brilliant. The cold air was wonderful, and of course I woke up and was reinvigorated for the rest of liturgy.

I love it when all the lights are put out at midnight, and then just the three small beeswax candles are lit in the altar area while the priest censes the icon of the body of Christ which is laid out on the altar. In his beautiful voice Father Justin started singing: "Thy resurrection, O Christ, the angels in heaven sing. Enable us on the earth to glorify Thee in purity of heart." Those three candles provided more illumination to that area than seemed possible. In that light the billows of incense smoke were so visible. And we all picked up the hymn as we lit our candles and filed out the door behind the cross, singing into the cold Kentucky night...right there on main street, with the lights from the Goody's marquis and the Kroger gas station across the street shining on us. And eventually we gathered again at the doors of the Church. "Lift up your heads O Gates and be lifted up O Ancient doors that the King of Glory may enter in!"...the words from scripture that recall Christ's descent into hell and His harrowing of hell. Even my hell? Even my small, pathetic fatigue and frustrations? Yes, even this. Then the shout! "CHRIST IS RISEN!" "TRULY HE IS RISEN". Then we all sing at the top of our lungs, still shivering in the cold, mind you, but full of paschal joy.

And there it was. And we worshiped and sang of the resurrection, and somehow in the midst of this community, I did care, come to care. I do believe. I am happy. I had thought to myself as things were starting that the only way I'd make it through was if the Holy Spirit would give me strength. He did. As usual. The resurrection of Christ is the most important thing. Ever!

Christ is Risen from the dead
trampling down death by death
and upon those in the tomb bestowing life!

I always enjoy the "polyglot" gospel reading. First Father Justin read the gospel in the original Koine Greek. Then he read a couple of verses in English and someone would read those verses in another language. We heard Spanish, Portugese, French, Creole, Russian, German, Swahili, Swiss, Hebrew, Latin...I think that's all. I read the German and the Swiss ones. The new people's eyes ALWAYS pop when I open my Kentucky-fried mouth and Swiss German comes out.

And when Father Justin shouted "Christus ist Auferstanden!", the first time I was totally unprepared, but then the second time he did it, looking straight at me with a challenging glint in his eye as he breezed past with the smoky censor, I was ready: "Wahrlich ist Er Auferstanden!" Next year I'll teach him to say it in Baselduetsch!

(And totally as an aside, yes, after the Resurrection Liturgy, I was able to fill my plate with yummy "legal" things, and so was my daughter...others in the parish with dietary restrictions banded together, and even my daughter had plenty of goodies: gluten free/dairy free scones, homemade sausages, gfcf ice cream and homemade legal candies. This idea that we are alone is such the lie.)

Christ is Risen!

Truly He is Risen!



Oh, and my red eggs were not red. They turned BROWN! I tried boiling them in a vat of natural red currant food coloring and then when that did not work, I sent my husband out for a red cabbage to put in the pot. But to no avail. Brown! (albeit a lovely shade of brown, if I do say so myself...) I polished them up anyways, and labeled them as dragon eggs with a sign that I could not get the chickens to eat my red dye, and at least one child was thrilled at the thought of dragon eggs, and at least one grown up laughed at my sign. Mission accomlished. Here is a picture of some of our goodies, this morning after we got into them.

Glorious Pascha to all my readers! Christ is Risen!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Finding Myself on the Via Dolorosa


It must have been a busy week, getting ready for the passover. There must have been food to buy, and things to prepare. Planning, cooking, shopping. Everything must be just so. And so many were there, and would Jesus come by during the feast?

And suddenly Thursday night is happening...a supper meal among close friends. And then in the garden, a breather before the real Passover feast? But what's this? Soldiers. And Judas. But we are tired. So many preparations, and we just want to sleep. Why does Jesus chastise us so? We've been busy busy busy all week long. And Soldiers! What ARE they doing here? And Judas? Why Judas? Why is he with the soldiers?

Oh. My. Goodness!!!!! He just betrayed Jesus! Astonishment. Fear. I'd better protect myself. This has blindsided me. Hide. I'm already so exhausted, and now THIS. But curiosity takes me there, where they took him.

He stands accused. Yet silent. And it's cold. A cold spring time. And at the fire I am questioned. I have no energy. Won't these people just LEAVE ME ALONE! "NO I don't know him!" Three times, this denial. I just want to be left alone. But I also want to know what will happen. And then I realize, and I weep bitterly.

And he is taken away. It all happened so suddenly. We were there, we were feasting together, and it was such a precious time, and now, my God! He hangs on the cross! He has died.

I am in shock, grief. Horrendous. I only THOUGHT I was tired before. There, on the ground, His holy blood is still staining it. And there was not even time to properly prepare the body. Someone took it. Joseph, the Aramathean, someone said. I'll have to find out more later. Will the authorities come for the rest of us next? Best lay low. Nothing else to do with my despair, disappointment, and grief. How could this have happened? Just yesterday we were all together. Just yesterday he was washing our feet. Just yesterday He spoke that we should all be one, He prayed. He blessed us. Just yesterday....

Oh, my Jesus! Where did you go? I"m so tired. Just way too tired for any of this...tired....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wanna be a "Mary"...


...forced to be a "Martha".

That's my experience of Holy Week year after year. I particularly over-did it yesterday, just doing what needed doing. Nothing could have been left out. Ok, perhaps I didn't need to lift weights, but even so I only got in two sets, and at the time I did not anticipate some other unexpected exercise that would come my way. Ever NEED to run to the store and not have a car? Walmart is just a wee more than 1.5 miles from my house. I made it there, and back again with my one item in a bit more than an hour, walking as fast as I could.

Then there was that loaf of gluten free bread to be baked, so that my daughter could eat sandwiches. And some pre-pascha prep work to be done so that it would not all fall on Saturday.

It's just always so busy. Day before yesterday I got all the ironing done for all the clothes that people would need to wear over the next few days to look nice. With my luck nobody will want to wear THOSE clothes, especially now that the weather suddenly turned cold.

And then, last night after prayers I had to go schlepp my exhausted self to the grocery store to get some much needed items to get us through the upcoming busyness...

I"m already tired this morning, and hurting again and today will be much like yesterday only with more Church and less "running". Friday, unfortunately is church interspersed with...yes indeed! Grocery Shopping! I hate that. A recipe for utter exhaustion. It's like I"m running around like the guy in the circus balancing all those spinning plates. AND I"m supposed to then have energy to actually focus on prayers? Last night I just sat on the pew like a stump and could barely grasp what was being said. I was too tired. It was all a fog. During the prostrations I was as much focused on how much my back hurt and head hurt as I was on worship. A smidgen of worship got through, but only a smidgen.

And so it goes. I wish I could just put bodily needs on hold for a few days. And I know that's what is supposed to happen...like maybe somewhere in a monastery! But let me count: one, two, three, four growing kids. One, two separate special diet situations in the family aside from Lenten-type Holy Week fasting itself (HA!) and the net result is: One TIRED mom!

And I KNOW that some ladies are naturally "Martha" types and they get energized by all this. But me, I just want to curl up with my bible and read the rest of the Gospel of Mark this morning, drink something hot and REST, because I"m already tired and the "busy" days are not even upon upon us yet. Instead, there is work to be done. Wah!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

In case you've ever wondered...


...what it feels like to get your fingers caught in an electric mixer, I'm here to report that it hurts! Feels much like slamming them in a door, only the painful bits are all at odd angles to each other.

And no, I did not experiment on purpose. Just my usual klutzy self.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Changes

In a bout of unanticipated but much appreciated maturity, my oldest child has taken her health into her own hands and decided to go on the Gluten Free Casein Free diet. It is a diet that helps many on the autistic spectrum. The proteins gluten and casein have an opiod effect for many autistic kids (grownups too, I guess) and removing those from the diet can/may/might reduce many of the neurological symptoms she struggles with.

I'm all about being 100% supportive. We've had fun researching together, reading together and cooking together, these past few days. She's totally committed, and I'm so proud of her! With my help she navigated a pancake breakfast the other day by bringing gluten free batter, and she and the other no-gluten person in our parish had their own griddle upon which to cook. Then she made gfcf banana muffins, to the envy of her siblings, and today it was gfcf peanut butter cookies. Of course all her meals and snacks are gfcf now. She's very careful.

But oh my! It sure does make kitchen work interesting!!!! Never have I scrubbed quite so carefully, never before have I inspected for hidden crumbs the way I do now. And the irony is, what with my special diet, I was so sick of cooking double or triple during lent, and looking forward to the break coming up. I guess there will be no break...until, that is, I phase the rest of the family (excepting my ever-low-carbing self) towards gfcf land themselves. Someday, there will be only juice and darifree in my refrigerator (except for my low carb stuff, of course).

The operative question is: Is it making a difference? Without getting into details, and considering that it's only been a couple of days....Yes, I think it is.

Blessed Holy Week to all!