See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

Ryan and friend

Ryan and friend
Mommy, Daddy, I'm saying Hi to Grandma?

This one is for you, Grandma!


soccer with determination and no airplane distractions

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year

Dinner was great, the company was better. And all that stuff. It is time to get serious about making whatever will happen in the New Year happen. Resolutions? No...Intentions, yes. So Make it a good year. Things are heating up on this freezing night, where the ball will fall in five minutes. So this is wishing you good health, many friends, be prosperous and don't forget we all love you. Especially me! Kisses...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


AN ATHEIST group has filed a lawsuit against prayer. I'd like to tell them that they are a joke. But the truth is that while my husband, John gets all fired up on this subject, I feel badly for them. I cannot imagine going through life without the God that created and loves you. They will be in my prayers tonight.
The story appeared on Fox News over the Internet, and already had close to fifty comments.
We all learn about God, and its not something spoon-fed to us. As we grow, normally our faith grows with us. It sometimes takes a lifetime to get it completely, as the sky is the limit on the knowledge available to us through courses in bible study and by hearing the gospel readings and homily's and as God reveals it to us. My parents shared their faith with us, and I know that it is not always the case today.
I recall working at the Old Sturbridge Village, as a part-time hostess, when a group of boys came in to visit. We stood around the podium and were chatting about why they had not gone home for the Thanksgiving Holiday. One boy told me, his school in Woodstock was his home, and that his very wealthy parents were only interested in boarding him. They were off somewhere on a trip. He was not their priority. He had friends and the schools planned their trips. They have all the money and things that they need. How cold. Reminded me of the play Scrooge that I just saw. These kids don't even have the love of a family. Makes me understand just how rich I really am.
In our church, we still light candles in prayer for those having a need. If you can say you never have needs, more power to you. But, I'm thankful each day that I can share my struggles and problems with the only person who really cares. He is the one that gave His life for me, unworthy that I am. The One that will never leave me nor forsake me, and is there until the end of time, when we will meet face to face.
That assurance gives me the peace and hope that I don't know what these people can live without. It is their choice, their right, and they are not speaking for the majority. Sadly, they may even be embolden by a win in this their cause.
Being the good neighbor that I choose to be, I will only say that I will pray that you are enlightened before your death. You may want to live without Jesus, but do you really want to die without Him? He's there listening, in fact, there is no where you can go to hide from Him.
(Psalm 139:7-12)"Where can I go from Your spirit? Or where can I flee from Your Presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You." Why I tell you that even what holds you together is of the Lord's making, Your creator. Have you ever heard the term Laminin? Go here for more information.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Odds

What are the odds of losing a lens in your glasses? I don't think it happens to often. My husband and I are always leaving or losing gloves, and maybe that is a common occurrence. Friday evening after work John came home with the news that he was missing the left lens of his prescriptive glasses. He has separate sun glasses and another pair of distance "spects" for just in case. In fact, normally he wears the older pair in the house. Sunday, he wore them to church. Luckily, we will be able to replace the missing lens, which is on order as we speak. They aren't cheap, but its something you cannot do without. I think frankly they are too delicately manufactured. I like the old-fashioned thicker synthetic throw them on the floor type. Lets face it, men do not treat their things lovingly. It is true that they are not as stylish, so what! One thing about posts is that you can't see when my blood is boiling. Everything is made thinly these days. Replacement is the name of the game. These glasses are not that old, and yes I'm a little mad. Everything is always happening to him.

Coming back to Sunday, we were on the way home from church, and I asked him why he wore his new glasses, knowing that the lens on the left was missing. He replied that no he didn't wear that pair and that those which were currently on his face were the older purchase. The odds of having had the same thing happen with years is rare, months, maybe. But several days? I couldn't believe it. He has a separate pair for reading, (good thing he didn't want bifocals).

Today, I went back to the church and retraced steps, luckily I found the lens. I was able to repair the glasses with my handy tool set made just for that particular job. They sell tool kits for eye glass problems? Maybe we should take out stock in that company. Must happen to a lot of people. Interesting. I think it rather funny that he had no back-up pair today. Can you imagine how hilarius that had to look as he usually gets the tinted kind. Anyway, what are the odds of that happening? I wonder.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Revelation, Life

This is how revelation begins. (Rev. 1:1) "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place.
(Our pastor is correct when he said that we do not have a Sunday reading from the pages of "Revelation.") There is a warning against tampering with the text, in Rev.22:18, 19.
This is the result of my research, what I learned. Jesus is the same today, yesterday and forever. There is no such thing as time with God, time is man made. There is nothing that is going to happen that hasn't already been thought about. He is fully aware of the end of the book. And, He is in control of all things. He knows your going out and your coming in. The battle has been fought, and won. And with the words "it is finished," the conclusion for us has been won with a victory, "life, eternally."
That is the message. Every day is a new day, and with each new day, love and life and creation because He is. He is present in all things and in all places. There are no end times, life is everlasting.
Apocalypse means literally to unconceal, unveil or reveal. Reveal who? Jesus the Christ, the Risen Savior, Lord of all. Looking at (Rev.1:8:) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Rev.1:17-18:) And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last." I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Death is the "last enemy to be destroyed".
(1Cor. 15:26). Creation will be totally renewed, freed from corruption, purified, transfigured, glorified. Joy will displace the sorrows and sufferings.
There is only restoration left and that is when God completes the reunion of heaven and earth when He comes in Judgment of all. (Rev.20:11-15) "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books."
(Rev.21-6) And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts." (The water of life "living water" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, bestowed along with Baptism in chrismation).
Sharing one throne, God the Father, and the Lamb, the Son incarnate, and proceeding from the throne, the entire Trinity is here.
In (Genesis 1:1) we learned that "In the beginning God made heaven and earth. The earth was invisible and unfinished; and darkness was over the deep. The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water." (Genesis 1:26) "then God said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness."
We read in Exodus that Moses desires to know the name of God. (Exodus 3:13) So Moses said to God, "indeed, when I go to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is His name?' what shall I tell them?" (14)Then God said to Moses, "I AM the Existing One." He also said. "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The Existing One sent me to you' " Moreover God said to Moses again, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: The Lord God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob--sent me to you.' This is my name forever, and My memorial to all generations."
(Psalm 9:7) "But the Lord shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You.
That brings us back to what the church has given us, the Nicene Creed. "And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end." And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spoke by the prophets. And I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the Resurrection of the dead and the Life of the world to come. Amen."
We have received all that we need through our church. It has been there for us right along. The search is over. The work has been done for us. All we need to do is accept or deny. The choice is ours.
(Phil.2:9-11)Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Friday, December 26, 2008

From a Historical Point

It is nothing short of amazing how the birth of Jesus, as foretold by the prophets of old, was actually written in the sky. Astronomers can go back in time and track the planet alignment which created the light over the birthplace of Christ, known as the star of Bethlehem. (We now know the date). The same series of events watched by wise men from afar, which would set forth a journey from the east, that took several years. It foretold of the "importance" causing them to come "bearing gifts." The greatest gift the wise men, gave of course, was that they worshipped Him, (Matthew 2:2) saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." Herod, in fear of losing his kingdom to the foretold coming King, demanded the slaughtering of innocents. These are historical "proofs" of the existence of Jesus and His birth as recorded by historians of that time.

Years later, there would be groaning in the sky and on the earth. The curtain in the temple would be rent in two. The moon would turn to blood, as there was an eclipse, and people would rise from the dead, (later to be seen in the city), as rocks were moved, caused by an earthquake. The earth was in travail, at the death of Virgin Mary's Son, Jesus. As we're told, the date was April 3, 33 A.D. (If the gospel message is not enough for you, the evidence of the eclipse is historical data).

As a sidenote here, How many accounts do you know of where a dead, and bound body of four days, stinking, was raised to life by a command from a distance? I'm referring to the raising of Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, which happened before the death and resurrection of our Lord.

There are some people who look upon the scriptures as just stories, altered versions of eyewitness accounts of martyred followers of Christ. They are the doubting Thomas' of the day. I challenge further thought. Putting it altogether, the elements obeyed Him, responded to His death, and the greatest sign of all was, it was written in the sky. An untouchable, unchangeable, road map for all generations to see, (the birth time and death of our Lord, God and Savior). The Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus. Signs of confirmation have been left everywhere.

If you cannot see, its for two reasons: 1). You chose not to see. 2). Once you do see, it will require you to change your ways. Become responsible, accept or deny Your creator. The one who loves You.

He is to be found everywhere, look up, look within. Seek and you will find and the door will be opened unto you. And you will learn the message of the Angels, "Christ is Born, Glorify Him."

(Isaiah 35:4) Be comforted, you fainthearted, Be strong, do not fear. Behold, our God renders judgment and will render it. He will come and save us.

If you'd like to read more information go here . May 9, 2003-Computer Program checks biblical references against historical astronomical data. Findings of Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu of the Astronomic Obserivatory Institute of Cluj, Romania, confirm dates of Crucifixion and Resurrection. Since the birth of Jesus is also historically verified, what more evidence will be required to satisfy you that the historical Jesus is the Son of God, made flesh?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Baby steps

Today is Christmas, and we went to visit our elderly mom. Now, I'm enjoying all the special television programs.
Our party last night was wonderful. One of the highlights each year is to form a circle for a toast. This is usually done in our kitchen, and it replaces the evening prayer before a meal. The host says as our glasses are raised, "Christ is born," and everyone replies "Glorify Him," repeated three times. Then we personally wish everyone a Merry Christmas, clicking glasses. What was really nice, this year was the addition to our circle, our grandson Nathan, complete with his apple juice. The whole evening was so much fun that he didn't want to miss any of it, and he kept saying, "I'm not tired."
Our friends were the first to leave, and when we got our fill on dips and cheese and crackers, we moved on to dinner.
Usually, Grampy wears a Santa hat and gives out the gifts, as we cozy into the living room. But this year, Nathan helped to move things along. He just started to distribute gifts, and he even helped to open them. Don't forget he had to get home because Santa was coming there for him. I'm sure they had no trouble getting him to sleep last night.
Apparently, his uncle Steve got some collectible Volkswagen cars, like the Beetle he owns. Nathan liked them too! He decided he wanted them. I think he liked Steve's better. Uh Oh! Finally it was time for everyone to go home with all their goodies.
I cleaned up the mess, alone, and as always, it was a time to ponder. What a wonderful family I have, part of God's plan for me.
The year is going to be big. I can feel it deep within me. One day last week, I found a book on Washington, we bought it a while back, just in case we decided to go one day. Last night one of my gifts was a calendar of Washington DC. Someone is trying to tell me something. One more sign, will seal the deal.
Did you know that the days are getting longer already? That means that it does not get dark as early. There is an expression of some Canadian French people, (Um Pas De Coq), it means, the days are getting longer by one step of a rooster.
The point being roosters have a very small print. Something like turtle speed. Life seems to change slowly, but surely.
Did you ever watch a rooster walking around in a yard? Sometimes they walk around in circles, not knowing which way they are going, so much determines each step, elements, distractions, and simply walking blindly.
We are all like that, some are more like roosters than others, and we all have one thing in common. Sometimes we don't know where we must go, or how we are to get there, and even why we must. All of life changes one step at a time. We must learn to trust in God's perfect plan for us, and like the star, (holy light) which leads us to Him blinded by faith, learn to just say yes, like all wisemen do.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Traditional cookie

Today I'm sharing a story about our traditional cookie. You see, ma didn't throw anything away. She had a wonderful little cookie treat that was made out of the left-over pie crust. Being of Canadian-French and Polish heritage, they strictly watched every word that came out of their mouths. In other words, they wouldn't even say S-h-i-t. Every time those cookies came out of the oven, they were not long lived in our house.
Yesterday, I thought of the story that grew from those famous cookies as I made some for my grandson and family from the leftover dough.
I'd thought it fitting to share today, and if they are all up there watching, I'm sure there having a good laugh. My parents both spoke enough Canadian French to be able to hide things from us, and say words that we shouldn't hear. That should have been clue enough for me to learn not to repeat words in a different language that I was unfamiliar with.
Anyway, mother called those cute little cookies, (d'trou d'cul) .It sounded more like d'touqueres. That's what we all it called it, saying, "I want some more of the touqueres." My parents used to laugh, so did we. We always had so much fun in our house.
The joke is, I then started to make these things because people really liked them. They are small and round, look like little jelly rolls, cinnamon, butter and sugar filled. Sometimes with walnuts and syrup added.
You could make them up rather quickly and so I did, when asked to bring them to a party. At a gathering of very proper ladies, who sampled the treat, I was asked what they are called? So I said proudly, the touqueres. They all started to giggle and left. Everyone knows that I do have a sense of humor. Later, my mother-in-law Leona, asked me what I had called those cookies, as she wasn't sure she heard correctly. So, I repeated it to her. She said, "I'm sure your wrong." I said, "No, my mother has been making them and calling them the touqueres for years."
Then she told me what the words meant. It probably was the first time that ever came out of her mouth, being such a proper lady raised in the home of a optometrist, and working for the superintendent of schools. Always neat and regarded highly by everyone. Now, possibly embarrassed in front of her friends and relatives.
Thanks ma and dad, they did in fact, look like ass-holes. Sometimes you have to make your own fun. They did. I now am very careful when around others to say little cookies, as some people can't take a joke.
I still call them the touqueres. Maybe 'cause naughty girls sometimes say naughty things.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Monkey Wrench

I'm not kidding, it has been that kind of a day. How much is enough? I thought I would not have time to post today, but since I'm half laughing and crying and probably out of my mind, I need to record this because it is too incredible. It started this morning. I told my husband John, that I was sleeping in because I was so tired and had a busy day ahead of me.

No problem, he made coffee for himself, (forgot to put the coffee in), so I got up at that point, remembering yesterday that due to the SUV being solidly frozen in the driveway, and having the door frozen, he not only forgot his winter hat on the coldest and windiest day of the year, so far, but his reading glasses of all things. Came home with a headache!

Seeing him off in the morning is a necessity because I literally go through a list, got your tie, keys, wallet, etc. It has been a dilly so far. The weather is predicting more of the same. I would have gone out to clean up yesterday, but the temperature and wind factor prevented me from doing so. Also I had Nathan. Much too cold for a toddler.

It came as a real big surprise today when I noticed that the living room door was all ice. In fact frozen solid. Couldn't open it. I started shovelling off the deep snow and ice from the deck and side of the house, to get to the downspout, in the front of the house. It was frozen to the ground. I removed as much ice as possible with a hammer. Tapping upward, I noticed it sounded hollow. Not good by the ice cycles hanging down the screens and everywhere else in eyesight.

I shovelled a path to the front stairs and cleaned them, coughing my brains out still, to have a look at the door. Ice. Thick solid ice. Went in to change, almost frost bite and warmed up a bit.

Back outside to clean the other vehicle, solidly iced over, had to shovel around and decided I would need to back it up in order to be able to get by as one side was up to the edge of the driveway.

In order to do that, I had to clear the ice at the end of the driveway, deposited by the town, which was not only deep but frozen. Back to the car, after running upstairs to get the keys, only to find the door would not open, of course. Finally got in, and couldn't find a scraper. Managed to chip enough ice off to back up in my driveway, with the intentions of going on the street. Never made it, as I got stuck on the ice. Burned some rubber, rocket it, and drove right back up the drive. It took two hours to clean and chisel the ice off.

You would know Christmas is tomorrow. Nothing wrapped, nothing cooked "yet". Because I was so exhausted, I needed to rest first, then lunch and then we will see.

I am hopeful that now that the electric panels in the gutter and on the roof, have been turned on Sunday, the gutters will start to work, possibly tonight right around the time we should be getting another ice storm. Usually we turn the system on in November. Somehow, it didn't cross our mind, until I came back home from church Sunday, and looked up. I have been ill, and Sunday was the first time I'd been out of the house.

This is not the first crisis, nor will it be the last. It is the story of my life. You can't get tired of all the bullshit, because it doesn't change anything. Just move on.

Christmas Eve will come tomorrow, and like many other times, I'll be ready as parents always have to be. Just think I've already made 3 pies and one dip after lunch.

Okay, so you have a sense of humor, I laughed. But, I cried too. That is when I remembered that the last time my husband used the snow blower, the cord broke.

I find that when things are so unpleasant, my little grandson, who is so much fun and says the cutest things, like yesterday when he saw the spoon rack, said, "where are the forks?" He causes me to reflect on how much joy there is in life.

And I laugh, and I laugh, and I laugh. He says, "grandma your laughing," "why are you laughing?" And I tell him, cause everything is so funny. When it comes to him, everything is.

How odd, I saw a picture of a man on Fox News just now, and he looked just like John's father, who passed away around this time of the year. Mario was kind, non-judgemental, and a good listener. In fact, he's the one who said he could hear the singing in heaven before he died. I believe he went straight up. He was a man who stood for hard work and family. A man you were proud to call dad.

Pie's done got to run until tomorrow.

This is a footnote, as John just told me, talk about coincidence, his dad passed away fifteen years ago today. May his memory be eternal.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Radio Program, WESO 970AM

It was very surprising to hear a Radio station talk about the Real Christmas. That is of course, the birth of Jesus. Fr. Peter and Dick reminisced about other things such as: the times of services, and told heart warming stories, in an informal atmosphere.

Fr. Peter announced that St. Michael's Christmas Liturgy will be held at 5PM, in order to accommodate as many as possible of the people who will then hold their family traditional parties.

Much was said about family, friends and how they spend their time with loved ones. A mention was made to the less fortunate, those still without power and the lonely. One week ago a young man's life ended here needlessly. We need to be more observant, caring people.

It was mentioned how cold things have become out there with the advent of computers, telephone services and the like. You can talk to who you want, when you want and if you want. You can hide or misconstrue your true feelings, and stay as disconnected as you wish. Fr Peter pointed out, it is quite different than the face to face meeting. Sometimes you may not understand what the other person is saying and take things wrong. (Where face to face, you would rectify it at once.) At times, you do it purposefully. Its facts, not feeling when they can't see your face, just briefly answering the question. Most importantly, on your own timetable. Whereas face to face, it is spontaneous and final. Unlike a script that can be changed after rereading for clarity. There is a copy if you so desire for your record. All very impersonal and business-like. My mother was good for making us look her in the eye. So, he does have something there about eye contact.

Some times people miss each other and because of pride stay apart. Often they don't even remember the reason that they separated in the first place. I'll bet, they would welcome you with open arms, if you gave them a chance. The message is that you need to be the first. That is not always easy. Our family fought for years, then actually separated completely. It was horrible. My sister's wish for our family was to see us get along before she passed away unexpectedly. She'd be happy to see us get along now.

Life is too short. Just don't put it off any longer. Someone may be missing you this Christmas.

The message of Christmas is this: with the coming of Jesus, also came the great Peace. The Peace between heaven and earth. One of my favorite songs is also "Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin With Me." If there is a rupture between you and someone, repair it this Christmas. It may be the best Christmas of your life. The decision is yours. And don't forget the person responsible for this celebration, Jesus, our Lord.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A great Love Story

Today we were told once again, in our homily at church that Mary was found with child before Joseph and Mary came together, being pregnant with child by the Holy Spirit. We can only guess that Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph, knew that only he say the word and she could have been stoned to death. The scriptures say that Joseph was a just man, unwilling to shame Mary. His resolve, was a quiet divorce.

Next, the intervention from heaven. An angel appeared to him in a dream. Obeying the angel, Joseph took Mary for his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus. This is the natural order of the family given clearly by the Lord. One man, woman and child.

This was a holy family. When I was a young mom, some of my work associates, who were protestant said that Jesus had brother's and sister's according to their misinterpretations of the bible, through Mary. Then in order to "prove" that they were correct in their analysis that she had other children by Joseph, they would use the passage but knew her not until she had born a son. That passage has only one meaning, that Mary did not have sex with Joseph, yet was pregnant before the wedding. Many references "confirm her" as ever Virgin Mother of God. That is what the Orthodox Church teaches.

I believe that the misinterpretation begins with the "Christmas Card image of Mary, Jesus and the Young Joseph. Joseph was in reality, the aged Joseph. This is not the dark-haired romanticised love story of today. Love takes on a new meaning here. This arrangement was according to honor and a promise to care for one's bride. Joseph loved Mary, he didn't want to shame her.

It is a love story that has nothing to do with age or sex. I remember reading when Angel Gabriel looked upon Mary, her beauty rendered him speechless. I can imagine that Joseph found her equally as beautiful. It is often said that a woman is the most beautiful when she is pregnant, her eyes shine and she glows. She is in a vulnerable state which makes her husband even more protective of her. Joseph did protect her and her son, Jesus.

She had to admire and look up to him, she may have had appreciation for his wisdom, and his strength in taking care of her, as she was just a child herself. Having a baby is a difficult time physically for any mother. But especially for Mary, travelling on the back of a donkey. I can imagine that through their conversations on that long journey they became close. Joseph was Jesus' step-father. Since he was with him from birth, he knew no other father on earth and he raised him well.

Love is not what television, or Hollywood says it is. It is a mystery. So deep, so beautiful, so undeniable, such a great gift. The gift that makes life worth living. And fills you with joy. Love is all you can take with you on the other side, it is eternal. And it is all that you'll ever need or want. A free gift, and all you need to do is accept. (1John4:9:)He who does not love does not know God.

(1John4:3) and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reason for the Season, Jesus

Many weeks have gone by and my little grandson has talked about what he's going to get for Christmas. An SUV something or another, maybe one of those huge cars that you drive around. I have not been to the larger toy stores in a while, maybe it's on display there. With the talk of getting something for Christmas, there is a mention of Santa Clause. In fact, when he saw a character on TV, he remarked that he was the real one. No one ever wants to take away that magic, desiring and dreaming of Christmas gifts and all you have to do is be good. Next month he will be three so he understands quite well.

Yesterday, we put up our tree. He was transported here from day care, due to inclement weather. The best part for him was playing with the gold garland. Almost the same way that he played with fallen leaves. I showed him the stars and angels, along with a St. Michael angel, I handcrafted. There were also snow people, a couple dressed in winter garments. A St. Nicholas in white and the traditional Santa. All familiar, and, as well, he talked about Rudolph. He immediately told us that the topper for our tree, an angel holding two candles, was broken as his at home lit up. He is very observant. We were quick to remedy that.

I placed a nativity on the table, Virgin Mary, Joseph and Jesus. This is a highly polished metal piece with a votive candle on the side. I asked him who they were. He didn't know. So, I said who's birthday are we celebrating next week. He knows all about birthdays. He didn't know. That's why we exchange gifts because it's Jesus' birthday. I showed him my nativity, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

It has been the subject matter of many churches as to where are our youth today? Why are our young people not returning to Church? Especially this Holiday, which is the Birth of Christ. Linda writes an interesting post which you can read here.

What legacy will you leave to your children. All worldly per suites? How about your faith? If not your faith, then your children will have nothing, because all material things will pass away. What will your gift be to Him, the Christ Child for all He gives to you? Come and share in the mystery of life.

St. Michael's will celebrate Christmas at 5PM, and there are many other churches if that is not a convenient time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happenings in Worcester, MA

Now this is a big deal. As we attempt to bring together, small Orthodox Parishes, here is the larger picture. Why not, after all we are of one understanding at that is that we worship a triune (a Trinity in Unity), God. One God in three equal persons. The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is Christmas for all of us who are waiting for the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the Christ. You can find the article here.

Message of Hope

A young man will not be with us this Christmas because he lost the faith and the courage to go on. Many people suffer in various ways and we pray for them. God understands our plight, and is the only message of Hope for mankind in this world. That is why God stepped out of the frame of the universe and dwelt among us. This is the only Real Gift of Christmas.

God came in the flesh, taking on the flesh of a virgin mother. But why did He come? What reasons impelled Him to visit us, emptying Himself, taking the form of a servant. (A vulnerable infant, in the care of her which He had made). His reason for coming must have been important. He cared for His people and He wanted to deliver us from the slavery of sin and death.

This is the message of Hope. It was a message of Hope to those who worshipped the stars, taught by a star to adore You, the Son of Righteousness. No longer are we to struggle alone. Find your way back to church, pick up the phone and call someone. Do you remember the story that they show this time of the year when Clarence the Angel is trying to obtain his wings, and comes to earth to save a victim from drowning? He follows him around to show him the difference his life made to the betterment of mankind. The story ends where he comes to his senses and understands that problems as bad as they seem, are resolvable with the help of family and friends who love him. Hope is restored, life is worth living. (Clarence does get his wings). There is only one hope and that is God's love for us. The love that brought Him here to redeem us, and it is He who will receive us on the final day.

He has opened the heavens and taken up abode in the Virgin!
He comes to be born in our flesh in Bethlehem's cave, as it is written.
He who gives life to children in the womb Himself becomes a child.
Let us go forth to meet Him with hearts filled with zeal and joy!

Soon it will be Christmas, will we meet Him with open arms and genuine warmth, offering Him thanks for all that He has done for us. He deserves our attention, excitement, gladness and love. It is still not too late. Reach out! Find someone to love, sometimes that's all they want to hear. There are many lonely, hungry, empty people out there who could use a message of kindness and hope.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Spectacular

A winter spectacular tomorrow, and again on Sunday. In fact, they are predicting a white Christmas with a snowstorm to boot. If you want to read something heartwarming pertaining to our last storm and outage go here.

Today I moved the living room around to accommodate the Christmas tree in front of my huge picture window. Now to dig everything out of the box. I never remember all the things I've collected, which makes it sort of fun.

I figure I'd better get going on it, as next week will be a bake and wrap week. I'm looking forward to Christmas this year, just getting a slow start.

So get ready you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I'm tell you why....Santa Claus is coming to town. (And....he knows if you've been good or bad!) Doesn't He?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Tradition

The Italians in our neighborhood gave homemade cookies when visiting their neighbors and friends for Christmas.

The other day I came across two recipes that my grandmother used to make, one was A Red Velvet Cake, and the other a walnut spice cake. Recently the Red cake has made a come back in holiday magazines. The basis of the cake was a chocolate batter with a bottle of red color added. This dye caused the cake to look like velvet when cut. She always used a white fluffy frosting, sometimes she placed cherries on the top. A lot of reds and greens are used when preparing foods for the Christmas table. The spice cake was huge and had no frosting that I recall, some sprinkled powder sugar on the top. Most people served it with cream. The type that you whip in a bowl with sugar and vanilla until it is stiff. I haven't seen anyone make real cream in years. We use real cream like ready whip, light. Both cakes were great and equally liked by family members.

My mother always made chocolate cream pie as it was my dad's favorite. This has become our tradition. It is easier now that you can purchase ready-made pie shells. Graham cracker crust is also a favorite. I'll never forget the first Thanksgiving little Nathan had here. We gave him chocolate cream pie and he couldn't eat it fast enough. Then he tried to eat his uncle's. It was right around that time we learned that in day care one of the boy's was crying because he didn't get his dessert and the provider knew he had received it. She thought he was just trying to get a second. It was eventually discovered that Nathan had a long arm when he got caught taking the pastry of someone else after eating his own.

For many years I baked cookie cut outs for just about everyone and always had cookies for family members to take home. Steve likes the gingerbread as well as the sugar cookies. Oatmeal cookies were always a stapel in my house- a quick breakfast while running for the bus in the morning, and a great snack in the lunch box.

This is the first year that I have stopped making the goodies. I have a freezer full of wonderful pasteries which we have not eaten. On Thanksgiving this year, we did not entertain as my husband and I were ill. We didn't have turkey, only meatpies which were very satisfactory, another of our traditions.

Since my mother-in-law does not make French meatpie, I will make her one for Christmas along with ours. I haven't decided what to make other than that. Perhaps, we will just pick up a few goodies at our local store. I will bake a few desserts to have when company comes over, like rice-crispy squares, for Nathan and grampy. Cherry crustada from my Italian recipes, chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. Some sugar cookie cut-outs and several pies.

If that doesn't happen there is always cheese cake.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The Virgin mother of God has always been close to me and our family I remember since my early childhood. I recall lighting candles at Sacred heart Church, in front of her statue as a very young girl. As a very young Roman Catholic, I remember kneeling around the bed with my family saying the rosary. You can't even get people to pray for you anymore. Nor, do they find time to go to church. Today, I use mostly the prayer rope, and Jesus Prayer.

My sister was equally devoted to the Virgin Mother of God. Once she prayed for an answer to something, asking Mary to produce a flower on a plant that we had in our room. The next day there was a blossom. I have shared my unusual dreams with priests, both Roman Catholic and Orthodox about the Holy Mother of God, who in all her humanity leads us to her Son, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God.

If you haven't already heard it, I recommend you listen to the newly recorded Shepherd of Souls podcast (39), here in which Fr. Peter interviews Fr. Nicholas Apostola on the subject of the Theotokos. (Check it out!) The word Theotokos is used solely for the Mother of God, Mary. The God bearer.

It was Mary, God's mother, I believe who led me to Orthodoxy, by a series of events in my life. (A long story). The day I walked into an Orthodox Church and saw the "Dormition of Mary" on an Icon stand, she was there to greet me. It was the come and see moment that I had been searching for, it seems for a lifetime.

What I experienced from that point on, is the fullness of the faith that had been missing from my life. Many unanswered questions were available through the Orthodox church. I have always wondered about the term the Immaculate Conception of Mary. That is what the Roman Church teaches about Mary. The Orthodox have a different view about the condition of mankind after the initial disobedience. We missed the mark and are cut off from the likeness of God. We still maintain in us our image of God. We do not use the term "original sin," as its implication is that one must be washed clean of the stain of this sin. We all sin and all have fallen short of the Glory of God. The biblical understanding is that Jesus was the only sinless one. If she was to be conceived immaculately, that would place her on the same level as Jesus. Then, why would we have need of Him? Fr. Nicholas called the term immaculate problemmatic for Orthodox. We believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God. The disobedience caused us to become separated from God, and we are renewed with a good conscience toward God in Baptism. We inherited our condition, missing the mark, as we all have been created with the gift of "free will." He does not force His love on any of us. Nor would he force Mary to be His mother. She decided to become the mother of God by saying: (Luke 1:38) "let it be to me according to your word." She could have said "no."

We celebrate the Conception of Mary in the womb of Anna, her mother. Mary was born under the same condition as us all, from two human parents, and, we all are to die, as the wages of sin are death and destruction, and Mary the Mother of God did die. This gives us hope, following in her footsteps.

Jesus took on our humanity in the womb of His mother, the Virgin Mary, heaven and earth were joined. He is the mediator for all. He does not need to be baptized, He is sinless, but in doing so sanctifies the waters and earth. The Trinity is revealed for the first time. He is the only begotten Son of God. We read in (John 10:17-18) "Therefore my Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

Mary the Ever Virgin Mother, sits on the right hand of God. (Ps. 45:9b-11)"At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir. Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father's house; So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him". (Echoed in the Magnificat: "All generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:48). Sung on feast days of Mary.

Christmas will soon be here. We have a deep reverence and love for Mary the mother of the most high God. It was her flesh that He took on, the flesh that He had made. He dwelt in her Virginal womb, He whom the world cannot contain. And she will nurse Him and love Him and make Him her world. And, we will worship Him. (John 1:14)"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

What is the disposition of our heart. Is it still cold or has it been changed to hear the message of the Angels, filling the heavens and earth singing joyfully, as the star illuminates the sky. Are we like the shepherds, keeping watch?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Counting Your Blessings

More news today from the western part of the state. Seems my sister-in-law and her son have a little bitter-sweet storm story. Unfortunately we will need to add them to the list of people without power. Living in Harvard and in the country, they are prepared to lose their electricity and having had invested in a generator, could manage for a period, using gas. Like others in this state, they had received notification that their power was likely to be out until Thursday. Luckily, they live in an old Shaker style house with several fireplaces. This is like living back in the Sturbridge Village era, where you just keep loading wood on the fire, and you can prevent freezing your butt and plumbing and, are able to maintain your residence in a somewhat primitive manner.

I cannot fathom living without electricity or heat. We are one of the residence on a main line, and are not usually without power for any length of time. Like the outages of the sixties where brownouts stretched the entire east coast, there are exceptions. At least that happened when heating ones home was not a factor as it is now. It proves over and over again that the people who pickled were better off than those who lost all of their frozen foods. We know they used root cellars for some vegetables and potatoes which got them through the winter. They were pretty much self-sufficient.
It would be worthwhile to revisit some of those culinary techniques before they are lost forever. When your cut off due to a storm, and unable to get around, either due to road closings or other circumstances you sure feel isolated and vulnerable. It may be one of the hardest weeks of their lives. Good thing her son is a scout and is learning survival skills, and that their are no babies or elderly in the house.

Like most people in her area, the tops of trees fell due to the stress of iced limbs. She heard tree droppings all around, while in a dark house. It had to be frightening. I recall one winter going through something similar having a tree fall in front of my kitchen window. Luckily it did not hit the house. That winter we lost our electricity, phone and road access for days. Live wires were across our road as well as trees. The snow blew against our garage door and was very deep. It was hard to get information to our family that we were trapped. Now we have cell phones, and we can recharge them in our car if necessary. The one thing we did maintain was our water. Everyone else, my son, brother, and sister-in-law did not and they now know how important it is to have water in stock. My son scooped his water out from around a tree which had a stone wall enclosure. My brother and his son used a rope tied to a pail to retrieved water from a brook nearby.

Life must have been difficult in the eighteen hundreds, keeping their coals during the night to stoke them in the morning. No running water or toilet facilities no electricity. Warming beds and boiling water at the hearth. And pee-pots.

People are clearing trees from their lawn. My sister-in-law got lucky, her tree fell onto the roadway and the town had to remove and dispose of it. Nothing left to do now but wait and count your blessings. Don't worry Christopher, Santa will still come, it will be just a little bit harder for the reindeer and sleigh to get around this year. So, in the words of Tiny Tim, "God Bless us, everyone."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Unexpected

Early Saturday morning we got a phone call from my sister-in-law telling us that they had lost power also with the advent of the storm. My son and his wife just got theirs back in Sturbridge, and since I hadn't heard from anyone else I thought all was well. We had overnight guests after all.

It was also the evening for our Annual Adult Parish Christmas Party, Saturday, which turned out to be a fun occasion and a break for the weary and cold Charlton visitors. They had their hands full, icing coolers trying to save their food, while transporting items to various houses, then here, lugging items they would need overnight. Luckily their power returned during the evening and they are comfortable at home once again.

Since Jayne and John were planning to attend the party, we ordered another place setting and all turned out well.

After Liturgy today, we went to see Scrooge, at the Bradley Theatre, in Putnam. It was wonderful! I cryed a few times, once when Bob Cratchit went to the graveside of Tiny Tim, one other of Scrooge's personal reflections. After the play, we gathered with friends for a burger, fries and cheesecake.

Tonight when I got home, I received a call from my son Bill, and he will need me to watch Nathan tomorrow. It will be a long day but I'm looking forward to seeing him. Last week he told me he loved me, all by himself. I'm thrilled! Isn't that all a girl wants and needs to hear?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wild Night

Its been a long time since we had one of those wild nights. This is my 100th post and I thought I'd like to write about something special. Unfortunately, nothing extra-ordinary happens so I'm left to report the same old same old. Except the weather. That seems to be the only thing that changes. Last night, it was reported that we got rain to the tune of .5 inches per hour. While I was posting, I could hear the wind outside. In order for that to happen, it must have been howling out there. Our class was cancelled for fear that some roads were going to ice over. The problem is that not only does the weather change so frequently, but it is different everywhere.

Early radio reports said that some people had power outages, and then came the news that the governor had declared a state of emergency. We were just inches away from the ice, sitting on the line, we got rain. Emergency crews were removing fallen trees and reports of flooding in the same areas of town caused some road ways to be closed. This meant while it was extremely hazardous to drive in certain parts of town, we were stuck in town as surrounding towns had roadways closed, such as Dudley and Charlton. Sturbridge and the Brookfields were iced up and they lost their electricity.

Most stores did not open at their regular time. Worcester had ice and it was advised not to go there. By 10:00 AM the brave arrived, but business had skeleton crews. Schools were closed.

Luckily, the sun is out and drying up the puddles. I've been outside and it is cool. Nate played basketball for a while, ate his favorite meal, hamburg, onions and mashed baked beans all mixed together. I know he liked it as he always asks for more, please.

This will be another busy weekend. Tomorrow evening we are having our Adult Christmas Party at my favorite local pub. Sunday, following liturgy, one of my old-time must watch plays, Scrooge will be featured in Putnam at the Bradley Playhouse, then dinner.

Tonight, they'll be goings on downtown. Santa and his helpers are going to be visiting the area shops enticing visitors to buy, buy, buy. Of course, it's not the real Santa, he is busy making toys for good little girls and boys.

I'm told they'll be a sleigh on wheels, no magic snow here, yet.

The colds are going around once again. Some say its the constant changing of the weather. I'm eating more oranges, and because it promises to dip down tonight and tomorrow, I'm planning to button up my overcoat. I was planning to wear my light-weight red sexy two-piece silk dress, but just like the weather I've changed my mind. The hardest part now is deciding.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No Underwear, please

This title tells you that my mother-in-law doesn't read my post. I don't know how I got a hit from Colorado through the words no underwear. Not geeky enough to understand that as I never meant to use that word, if I did so, anywhere in my posts.

Sometimes I think that people get a little too carried away with the title and are hoping for a little surprize. If your one of these people, forget it. For the most part I have respectable readers, like my husband, John, my daughter-in-law and people of the cloth who could care less about my or anyone's underwear. There I've said it again, not to say I don't care for such "niceaties" but....

Sorry guys, I'm spoken for. If you knew my man, you'd also know that he's very protective, always around, and is very observant. And...he loves his "little girl." He never forgets birthdays, anniversary's and makes all holidays and vacations "special." I've often said other's should take lessons from him. I hope that Santa is good to him, as he deserves to be "happy."

The hardest part is deciding what to give him, as he says "he has everything?" Everything except new underwear come to think of it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Forecasting Fun

Just got back from my favorite pub in town. As we were leaving to do a little business, we ran into two very interesting people who are artists, coming in for a beer. Trish and Chris, we met these people for the first time in early November when we had our church name day feast banquet. The conversation and evening went well. The food is the best around, and the atmosphere is second to none. The small 10 oz. beer has been discontinued, but I don't mind having a little more.

Our dinner plans included the last minute arrangements for Saturday's Christmas Party. The room has been decorated beautifully and tastefully with blends complimenting the salmon-colored walls with oil paintings. The wooden chairs and tables with small lamps and shades, adds to the mix with huge snowflakes dangling from the ceiling. The river run room is largely windows, having a view of the river which extends the length of its seating capacity. A huge piano on one side, and a staircase on the other. The entrance doors, magnificent wrought iron swinging gates. Huge planters surround the room with a natural greenery. The wooden floors finish the area with all the comfort associated with home. The buffet style meal will be set-up to allow movement in front of two beautiful French doors. It is hard to capture it all, except to say it is breath taking and beautiful.

The only thing we need is for the weather to cooperate. Today it was around 50 degrees. I'm not kidding. So odd to see it rain as we had snow a few days earlier. In New England, you take what you get. The forecast is for good weather, and a lot of fun. We'll drink to that.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Frosting my Cookies

Just an expression that does not have anything to do with baking. Well yesterday, it was a scenic drive. Today was a different story.

The story goes that several weeks ago, I had my car looked at for what was a terrible rattle. We suspected that the tailpipe was getting rather rusty and perhaps a clamp or two had loosened. We made an appointment and drove all the way to Brookfield to have a reputable dealer check it out. Of course we were right it would need a new exhaust system, which was ordered and scheduled for repair.

When I got home that day, I noticed that something was hanging in the back center of the car, not touching the ground. It wasn't there before, so it was assumed that because they temporarily secured the exhaust system while waiting for the ordered part, that was also part of whatever they were doing. We thought, who could miss that, and having no further concern, we thought that it would all be taken care of when repaired.

You can't imagine how pleased I was to find it still hanging today when I went to the store to buy a few things. Now I take full responsibility for not looking yesterday, after the repair. I didn't think I literally had to look, trusting with supervisors and all, the job would be done well.

What ever happened to the service in this country? It takes a little lady to find this thing hanging from a vehicle? Not that hard, all I had to do was look.

I somehow didn't enjoy the trip down and back. I was pissed! (good English word that everyone understands). At times like these I'm better off to be alone. I called immediately, he understood, I got there in no time.

I didn't have to wait, nor would I have paid for this oversight.

People that know me, also know that I have learned to take care of myself. I keep telling myself that this is the Christmas Season and it is best to remember to be nice. Hold your tongue, even if they are idiots and supposedly the best mechanics around. People can make mistakes, and this was only the second time.

I asked the service manager how it was possible to have something the size of a cable wire with and adapter on the end hanging from back center of a vehicle, not worth the mention to the customer if there were a problem, as I did not hear of one. His answer was the car looks different when up on a lift, than when it is on the ground. Really!???

He didn't want to deal with me. They couldn't find him. So they sent their people out who were more than pleasant.

The young, handsome mechanic all pink-cheeked tried to explain the dilemma. He was sweet and it was not his problem.
He drove the car out for me opened the door, and did all he could.

I am not hard to get along with. Just do your job. When I take my car to the garage to be repaired, if you knock something out of place, fix it. Don't wait until I have to look under the car to see, or hear, what you were too lazy or careless to do.

No charge, it didn't cost me in service. But my time is valuable and so is gas.

Service is a huge consideration when buying a new vehicle, and I will keep that in mind. Thank you very much...

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Scenic Route

Had a wonderful ride today into what I call the Brookfields, and the scenic route. Still winding, old country roads, but for the most part well-paved.
It was nice and sunny around ten, and off to the garage to have my car repaired. Wouldn't you know it was thirteen degrees and slightly slippery, ice formed on my vehicle from yesterday's storm. It looked and crackled like an ice box.
Last week was ideal to drive out to have the car looked at. Unfortunately, we had to wait until the parts arrived. No one keeps inventory the way that they used to. Many manufacturers do not have the space, nor do they want to tie up the funds. The difference in the weather was like night and day, but it could have been worse. It could have been like yesterday, snowing. I didn't understand the inconvenience of having to drive a good distance to have to come back "next week," until today. You know, the cost of gas and all.
I had to pass by the lake, and it was already forming ice. The boats are gone, and so are the people. It is truly peaceful, but cold. The birds that I normally hear in summer are also gone for the winter. We've been noticing the geese flying in formation in a southerly direction for a while now.
I look forward to reading while I am waiting for my car. It never quite works out that way. God in His wisdom usually finds someone that needs to chat. Today was no different. Today, it was an elderly lady. I talked about the holiday, decorating the home and general things.
I learned that she was a widow of two years. Her husband was a physician. She had just gotten back from visiting several sisters who live in Turkey. She now had to concern herself with all car problems and many other tasks that her husband used to do for her. What stood out was that she said they never had a family. Her holidays are shared with her housekeeper, who decorates the tree.
You can have many things, material wealth, and still be lonely. They called her before me, as her car was ready. But, she sat there chatting, in fact, she walked out with me, waving and smiling. What did we talk about, her chauffeur and people cleaning around the limo. (small talk) I didn't even get her name, nor she mine. Somehow, I felt like I had given someone an early Christmas present. One not of my making, unexpected and unplanned for and it didn't cost anything. We parted like old friends.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The wonder

Woke up this morning to a beautiful scenic winter view. Snow was falling ever so lightly and it had stuck to the ground, not enough to drag out a shovel, but enough to leave footprints on the way to the car. A crisp fall morning in New England.

Today was special because the two churches were joined for the celebration of St. Nicholas' feast day. It was good to sing along with family members, and enjoy the fish dinner following the liturgy.

One never knows what to wear anymore, and sometimes it needs to be decided at the very last minute, determined by the weather, of course. The church was packed, and there was a memorial service for the His Holiness Patriarch Alexiy II, may his memory be eternal. Happy nameday to all the Nicks out there.

The Orthodox in this town have serious contemplations and changes will be upon us soon. We welcome the work.

This week preparation will be made for our Adult Christmas Party, which is being held at a local pub. Followed by a play which is at the Bradley Theatre in Putnam, featuring Scrooge, the next day.

Before you know it winter will be here, and shortly thereafter, Advent will end and Christmas will begin, and the warmth and light of Christ will show forth from hearts of men.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kitchen gadget

Watching TV especially this time of the year, you come across many things that are "a must have." It made me think of all the kitchen gadgets that I have which have saved me lots of time, and are appreciated mostly when it is hot working in this small kitchen.

The problem is where to put all these fine things. One example is an electric jar opener. A blessing for sure at times. Not something that I'd use everyday. Then, there is the rotisserie, priceless. The meat comes out perfect every time. I don't roast that often. The grill is perfect for burgers and hot dogs, great for taking the "fat" out. The George Foremen grill is a must.

I love my bread machine. It is actually a Bakery, although I only use it for bread. On the downside, I'm not supposed to indulge in such delicacies. The only thing I don't have is a Pitzell maker to make Italian cookies. But then, I should not tempt myself, so I abstain from buying one. I am using my waffle maker, not daily, but it allows me to throw in flax seed and wheat germ and cut back on the flour, utilizing more ground oats, which I grind in my coffee grinder.

It is impossible to buy for me, because I have everything. Everything but space. That drives me crazy.

There is one thing in the kitchen that I have used for years, and it is my favorite kitchen tool. I take it everywhere I go to cook or bake. Can you guess what it is?

It will be interesting to see if someone will guess. I know it will not be under the tree again this year. Just one hint? It is not electrical. You've seen me use it time and time again, so what is it?

Friday, December 5, 2008

St. Nicholas

Northern Europeans changed St. Nicholas' name to Santa Clause, sometimes called Father Christmas, because of his good spirit of Christmas unselfishness and love toward others.

Born 275 A.D. in Patara. A town in Asia Minor, St. Nicholas, common name: Nicolas of Myra, was raised and ordained Priest by his uncle the Bishop of the town of Myra in Lycia of Anatolia, and after his death succeeded him. This is in modern day Antalya Province, Turkey.

As Bishop, the story goes that St. Nicholas, having heard of the plight of three daughters of a poor father, came on three separate secret missions to leave enough money aside for marriage dowries, saving each from a life of slavery. Although he tried to remain unknown the man hid himself and waited to see who his benefactor was. The father received forgiveness and was pardoned for nearly having sold his daughters.

His feast day is celebrated on December 6. (Hebrews 13:16) "To do good, and to distribute, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

St. Nicholas, is a valued intercessor, known to many as having helped during a tempest-tossed sea. A "wonderworker" to those who call upon him.

Troparion: "The truth of thy deeds showed thee to thy flock as a Rule of faith and an image of meekness, a teacher of self-control; therefore, by thy lowliness thou didst attain great heights, and by thy poverty great riches; O Father, Bishop Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.

The big Italian San Nicola festival commemorates the 1087 arrival of St. Nicholas' remains in Bari, Italy, when Turks conquered Asia Minor. Out of the bones exhumes a sweet smelling oil from the skull of St. Nicholas. This oil has been known to be a source of healing for many.

One visit to Ocean City, NJ, my husband John and I attended a vesper service and were lucky enough to have the oil of St. Nicholas placed on our heads by Fr. Stephen. This was a wonderful surprise, arranged I'm sure by the "wonderworker."

O Father, and Prelate Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God, for the salvation of our souls...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kicking the Can

Ranting is not my style. Nor is being silent. I'm sorry if what I think offends some others but, am I not allowed my own feelings and expression? So here I go kicking the can, again, knowing that it will hurt my foot.

I wonder if Jesus would approve of all of those prescribed advent rules, which creates in some, negative feelings for many reasons. (The fact is, it is just too hard). Jesus knows us intimately, and its like kicking someone when they are down. It is not His style. He is compassionate. It takes the word Merry from Christmas. It was never part of my tradition. Loving, giving, supporting and working for the Church is.

I agree that Christmas is just too rushed. There is no time to even get together, relatives are trying to visit and attend all the parties, yet have a special time at home for their own tree and gifts, on Christmas day. It creates fights and hard feelings.

Working around people's schedules and other situations create stress enough. (Most of the time, it feels rushed).

We need a little Christmas now. Great song! Somehow we make it through, exhausted and stressed to the limit. It isn't the parties, not around here. Frankly just the cold, is enough to do me in.

Did you ever here the song by Bob River's, "Twelve Pains of Christmas." The part about angry husband rigging up the lights, and finding a Christmas tree, sound familiar? Too familiar for about forty years.

The good news, is that Fr. P. brought me some new readers. I hope they don't think that I am as bad as he makes me sound. Maybe I am. I don't even know why I'm picking on him, I just don't want to hear it. But, know this, that I have much respect for him. Christmas is supposed to be a celebration, and I want to celebrate. I've stopped going to some family parties, where some family member's should not be drinking.

Today, tuning to radio station WESO 970am, Fr. Peter, began his new program, which aired between 12-1. I learned some valuable information on how to avoid being stressed out. I have come to learn that I put a lot on myself, instead of delegating, which others have allowed for various reasons. I create my own stress. I need to change. I look forward to what will be a great show again next week.

It is good to know that partaking in the birth of Christ is not just for everyone else, but for you too. Don't forgot to do something good for yourself. Make some special time for you.
A caller stressed the need for taking care of yourself, walking is good.

The wise men brought gifts to Jesus, yes, we should also. But they each brought one. That is what we decided as a family to do this year. It is the anticipation, both in Advent and in Christmas that brings the hope of receiving that special gift.

And that is, the gift that is not found under the tree.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Love is a decision

Theology attempts to define love. There is no denying that God perfectly defines His love for us in scripture. We would not have any expression pertaining to Love without God. God is love. It is His personal decision to love us, His creation. We decide to Love God, who Loves us first, unconditionally. I had been thinking about some personal moments that I could share that I'm sure most mothers can relate to as loving moments.

When I think of the young child Mary, who was asked to be the Mother of our Lord, she decided to...A total act of Love, giving of her body.

Not knowing a man, she agreed to share her life with an older man, a stranger, Joseph. Not having the choice to love someone in a romantic way, the type of relationship we are familiar with today. I would have found that obedience, difficult. We never hear how the marriage was, was she happy? Only that she made the decision, as a woman would have at that time, raising a son and caring for a husband, the ever-virgin Mary, mother of God, worked very hard.

Initially following Joseph to a different country, relying on him to care for her, and her child. (Another very risky endeavor, but after all, he did not put her away). She was to trust in him. There was a love that was not easy to comprehend, one that was based on an understanding. Love, exists and is binding in your heart.

My oldest son is thirty-six, yet what will be forever in my heart was the love between us at his birth. There is an unexplainable bond that occurs as his eyes penetrate yours and he finds comfort in your voice. He would just stare at what he found to be the love of his life. Although there were no words, I understood his needs perfectly. My youngest son was the same way. Jesus and Mary shared this powerful love story at birth. Jesus was held by Mary, we need to be held and kissed. Reach out and touch someone. Jesus reached out and touched many.

When his mother asked Him to produce wine, before it was His time, He did not disappoint her. Loving someone means to do all you can for that person, no matter what. Loving someone means that you can't wait until you see them again, and you think about them when your not together. Little things they do or say, brings about an easy smile to your mouth. You hope all good things for that person, and share in their goals and dreams. And no matter what, you forgive them, because you can't live without them. Love never fails.

The fact is, no one can define Love, because God is Love and He is immeasurable. Love is a knowlege, an awareness of something wonderful, which in turn you interact with, or a decision to act on what comes natural, because it comes from the heart. And it is given to us by the author of Love, God.

Remember the words of Jesus, "Do You Love Me?"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Decorating for Christmas

Just got through listening to another podcast from two local priests kicking back and sharing in their usual style. The two priests are like night and day, different. But they seem to get along rather well. You can see for yourself on iTunes, the latest Facing East.

Fr. P. always gets me going, but, I sit in silence and listen. Today he was hitting on people who decorate during Advent, as he did at coffee hour on Sunday. Some people pack it all up and put it away the day after Christmas. Why not exemplify Christmas, (early) it's better than not celebrating at all).

Fr. G. mentioned, I think, that some do not look forward to Christmas because of the stress placed upon them. Right on!

(The fast, the advent, the whipping session). Is this how we bring people to Christ? I don't think so.

Since I've never heard it before, Fr. P, I think is making a big deal out of nothing. So what if people want to decorate early. At least they want to. There are others, who I personally know, that do not look forward to Christmas, and do not want to decorate or participate in what has become a "fiasco." One year, I recall putting the artificial tree up the day after Thanksgiving. The kids were little then, and I was looking forward to Christmas that year.

I hear that many more are not sending greeting cards this year. And, they are not buying all the gifts that leave them broke, at the expense of another unappreciated gift. Expectations have become unrealistic. Their god is commercialism. We are in a recession, people are scared and hurting. Give them the gift of hope, love and joy.

John loves Christmas but like others, gets depressed at Christmastime every year, this is when many of our family members died, and his father as well. There is no joy in struggling. It is hard enough to face the cold, inclement winter, the pile of heating and medical bills, and all the memories. Why do we want to add to the stress of it?

At least some people out there still want to make merry. I am not looking forward to dragging the tree out again, alone, to decorate it in a small house where there is no room, only to single-handily put it all away, not the day after, but when I'm truly sick of it. I will do it for the sake of my grandson, but not with the joy that I used to know.

Christmas past, meant making cookies, visiting with family, putting the tree up on my father's birthday, December 18th., preparing the nativity scene, and attending the church service, with friends and family.

And of course, driving around looking at all the wonderful Pre-Christmas displays, in anticipation. Some of my fondest memories are seeing the lights and Christmas scenes downtown and here on our Common, as we take our evening stroll during a light snowfall.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let your smile be your umbrella

Sometimes we come out with these little cliche's, probably after hearing them over and over as children, and sometimes wondering where they came from and what do they mean? This one, I recall from my youth. "Let Your Smile Be Your Umbrella." Did you ever notice how important your smile is? What an effect it has on others? When you greet me, your smile warms me to my toes. It makes me feel so happy.

That is why it is so important to greet others with your friendly, cheerful, smile. No matter what else happens, or what else is said, your initial greeting says it all. Many times, when you need to overcome a difficult set of circumstances, just that look will do it. That's probably what is meant by umbrella, or protection. I don't know anyone who does not respond to a friendly smile. Who smiles and fights at the same time?

As I sit here typing away, my face from the ear to the temple, lip and throat is frozen. It was made numb by one of the best dentists and his assistant, in this area. It was good to see the group today, that I used work with in our local dental office. They are in the business of making sure that people keep their pearly whites. Mine was fractured, but he was able to save it, pins and all. Dental care is vital to your health. Today, I'm thankful for the great care I get right here in our local community.

Some of you may remember, The love theme from the Sandpiper, 1965.

"The Shadow of Your Smile."
The Shadow of Your smile when you are gone
Will color all my dreams and light the dawn
Look into my eyes my love and see
All the lovely things you are to me
Our wistful little star was far to high
a teardrop kissed your lips and so did I....
Now that I remember spring
all the joy that love can bring
I will be remembering
the shadow of your smile...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

One of Mom's favorite hymns

He is born the Divine Child
Il est né le divin enfant,
Jouez hautbois, résonnez musette.
Il est né le divin enfant,
Chantons tous son avènement.
Depuis plus de quatre mille ans
Nous le promettaient les prophètes,
Depuis plus de quatre mille ans
Nous attendions cet heureux temps.
Une étable est son logement,
Un peu de paille est sa couchette,
Une étable est son logement,
Pour un dieu quel abaissement.
O Jésus, ô roi tout puissant,
Tout petit enfant que vous êtes,
O Jésus, ô roi tout puissant,
Régnez sur nous entièrement.

He is born the divine child,
Play oboe, resonate musette.
He is born the divine child,
Let's all sing his accession.
For more than four thousand years
We've promised by the prophets,
For more than four thousand years
We've been waiting for this happy time.
A stable is his lodging,
A bit of hay is his little bed,
A stable is his lodging,
For a god such a humble thing.
O Jesus, o all powerful king,
Such a little child you are,
O Jesus, o all powerful god,
Rule completely over us.

Hardly a Christmas went by when we didn't hear my mom joyfully singing the above in French, her native language, during the mass. Linda probably heard her mother singing the same tune, as she also remembers the hymns sung on Christmas Eve, by a joy-filled choir.

Western churches in this area, were known for having choirs, rather than just cantors. These choirs were accompanied by instruments mostly, the organ.

The Eastern tradition is different in that instruments are foreign to the liturgical service. There are several understandings here:
  • God created the human voice to praise Him, while men create instruments
  • Words can be heard in a clear manner, when not drowned out by the organ
  • Our purpose is prayerful interaction with the priest to proclaim holy words in worshiping God, during the Liturgy
  • We are not providing entertainment, and even just giving notes can be a distraction

The subject of wedding music came up at coffee hour. Some of the other churches play organ music just before or after a wedding, (if they still have an organ). Most Orthodox churches do not have nor do they require one, as this is foreign to our worship. Have we taken on other religious practices, and erroneously adapted these musical additions?

A good choir director is trained to give the notes for musical parts, such as in the Russian Tradition, where some use the uncommon 4-part harmony. The Romanians have a cantor, in which we take our note from, and he takes his note from the priest. (This allows a continuous flow of music without interruption). The advantage in celebrating in this fashion is that the Liturgy can be said anywhere, simply.

The subject came up about the entrance of the bride, and music during a wedding service. As I recall, the priest and the groom met me at the back of the church, with the alter server. We were given a garment from the priest to be led down the isle to the left, in front of the pews, (the wedding party followed).There we exchanged our betrothal. Then, on the right side, in front of the pews we received the marriage blessing. Their was no organ, and the cantors sang the holy hymns beautifully, at the appointed times during the service.

No fancy stepping down the isle for us, or here comes the bride, but it was simply beautiful, peaceful, holy, and no one missed the fanfare.

Tradition has its time and place, for those who need musical accompaniment, my daughter-in-law and one of my nieces had a bagpipe playing beautifully in the distance, a nice touch.

We fill our minds with the notions that television, Hollywood and magazines provide. As if they know anything about the sanctity of Marriage. I was told that here comes the bride comes out of a bar-room setting. Do you still want that at your wedding? The church is full of its traditions, and many of our Orthodox ways extend back, thousands of years.

Do we want to change what is proven, given by the church because we know best, or because we can't have what we want?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

No Underwear, please

It is easy for some of the clergy to talk about gift-giving, when they are not confronted with the problem of fulfilling a child's dream. A child who is depending on you to find what their little hearts desire. (They will hold it against you. You've got to find a way).

It touched me that Fr. P. in his blog spoke about his grandmother. She meant a great deal to him, because he hardly mentions anyone that he loves. As a grandmother, I can identify with that special relationship. She would make homemade things, warm and practical. My grandmother, gave me handkerchiefs. She didn't work and had a limited amount to spend on her fourteen grandchildren, not including her step-grandchildren.

Years ago, they did not have the pressure that our children are constantly putting us under. That is: advertisement. They want it and expect to get it. (If the Jones' have it, they are entitled too!) If you don't deliver, they'll be hell to pay. So, what do poor parents do that do not have the money to keep up with this insanity? Try to get to a sale. And because they know these items are limited, get to them first. The blame game, again. The parents are wrong.

Then, one of two things, don't have any children that you can't afford. Or, make so much money that you will not have to put up with the rantings, as you will give them everything that their hearts desire.

It is unfortunate that Commercialism and greed rule the day. That is not going to change. There is no room in the inn any more, people have stopped going to the stable. Baby Jesus is not the reason for this season. It is the almighty dollar once again.

There are other's out there, who need to be told that what they do for the poor and needy are very much appreciated. Since the fire department in our town provided our Christmas on many occasions, we owe them our deepest gratitude and respect. Often, these fighters give of their own time and treasure, while their own families sacrifice for the common good. God bless you all!

Every year we hear the horrible stories, like the Wal-Mart one on black Friday. The fact that someone got trampled to death should tell you something. It just isn't right. None of it is. Especially the merry making of partying people who won't go to church, but find time for everything else. They will not see the fallen state that we are and have been slipping into. (The hearts of many will grow cold).

Fr.P. advises moderation. My dad used to say the same thing. We got underwear, and other necessities, and except for one year, when I got a bride doll from my godmother, that I really wanted, we got little.

My dad always got a new shaving brush, blades and some cheep after shave. My mom got little things, nothing great that I remember. Santa did come, and we had a great meal, chocolate cream pie, and candy. We sang carols together.

The emphasis in our house was on going to mid-night mass, or the children's mass on Christmas day. And, when we closed our eye's knowing that we had better fall asleep right away, or Santa couldn't come, we always heard the sleigh-bells ringing outside. He was here! We knew it. After all, hadn't we been good little children? We knew we were getting the embarrasing underwear, at least.

I still can hear my mother singing her French Christmas Carols. I didn't know what they meant, but there was happiness and joy in her voice.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Virtue of Hope

We hope for what we do not see. That is why we rely on so many sources to enlighten us, the gospels with their eyewitnesses, and the saints.

(Quotes were taken from the Book: Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Seraphim of Sarov, written by: Constantine Cavarnos and Mary-Barbara Zeldin).

We recently celebrated The Entrance of the Holy Theotokos into the Temple, where she was set aside for her work, at the tender age of three. As a teen-ager she would become the Mother of God, by her own free will. Being pregnant and vulnerable is difficult and frightening, because you know that you will enter, death valley. The Holy Mother of God, didn't even have the comfort of her own home, mother or bed.

The bible tells us that a sword would piece her heart. We mother's know how fragile our hearts are, and what a torment befell the Virgin Mother at the cross. What got her through? Her faith and her hope. She had already endured many struggles, a virgin mother, who possibly lost her older husband Joseph, many years prior to the death of her only Son. Jesus and Mary would part, and she would be left in the care of John the disciple. Left in her heart was hope. Hope that she would see her son again.

The feast celebrated where He comes to fetch her spirit is known as the Dormition of Mary. Later, we know that she is present in the heavenly realm, (psalm 45:9.) This is sung at the First Hour on Christmas Eve Day. Magnificat: "All generations will call me blessed."

The message is one of Hope. Many of the saints have revealed to us miraculous events, cures, disclosures. Like Mary, some people have been put aside to attain spiritual heights, one such person was St. Seraphim of Sarov, a monastic. He guides by speaking of the importance of inner stillness, guarding of the heard, and mental prayer. Repeatedly stressed is theosis, union with God, the fullest possible participation in Divine grace.

During the last period of his life, his face was seen lit by a dazzling supernatural light, and on several occasions he was seen levitating. On March 24, 1831, St. Seraphim had his twelfth and last vision of the Theotokos, prior to his death. On this occasion, "while in his cell, he saw the All-Holy Virgin escorted by two angels, the Apostles Peter and John, and twelve virgin martyrs. The vision lasted about four hours."

"One more practice of the Saint about which something should be said is that of frequent Holy Communion. He always stressed the importance of this practice to the people who came to him, and he urged priests to facilitate it.
He said: "So great is the grace received through the Holy Mysteria, that it has the power to purify and regenerate every man, no matter how great a sinner he may be."

"His life was full of joy, and he tried to impart it to his associates, cheering them by his very presence and occasional pleasantries, both in their work and especially in the evenings, when, tired after a long day of activity, they chanted in the choir. "Joy is not a sin." "He saw the image of God in every man, and the sight filled him with joy."

One Holy Thursday, during the solemn Liturgy of St. Basil, at the time of the Entrance, Seraphim suddenly stopped motionless, and had to be supported behind the iconostasis, where he was silent for two hours and motionless. "He said that he had suddenly seen our Lord Himself in His glory, attended by the heavenly hosts, entering the church by the western door and stopping before the iconostasis, where he was standing. Christ blessed the celebrants, bestowing a special blessing on him. Then He left by entering into His icon on the iconostasis."

We mortals need proof, and people can find all that they require, if they were to adhere to the gospel passage, (Matt.11:28) "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

All you need to do is ask, seek and find, and the door will be opened unto you.

So, in keeping with the spirit and joy of Christmas, what are you hoping for?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Today a storm of thoughts filled my heart of traditions past, and of course the present day.

No matter how little we had as children, our parents always made Thanksgiving a great day. My mom would wear a beautiful dress. Talk was always about the traditional football game. If they lost, we ate crow, and if they won, it was turkey of course.

If we went to my grandmother's apartment, we were divided up and ate in small groups, beginning with the children. My grandmother made the best pies. She had prize -winning recipes published in books.

I can still hear her say that she wanted the part of the turkey that went over the fence last. She loved fat. (It took me a while to get it.)

The girls were given aprons to wear, as we did all the clean up, not the boys. The men would smoke cigars and talked. There was a lot of French spoken, so we didn't always know what the older ladies were talking about.

I'm still not well, so John and I stayed home, although we were invited to several parties. Steve's girl Jean, received her two grandsons early today, as their mom went to the hospital to have another child. A day no one will forget I'm sure.

My oldest son called early this morning. He is always the first to think about me. His son Nate was watching the Macy's parade, like me. He was so happy and extended his wishes to grandma, and grampy, Happy Thanksgiving. Such a sweet voice. Later they were going to her mom's to get together with a rather large family.

Tonight I heard the song, Sunrise, Sunset. Quickly go the years, ........full of happiness and tears. A great movie, which I'm glad I had a chance to watch.

Other greetings came over the Internet, and to all, my heart is with you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meat Pie

My mom was careful to keep the tradition of her family's meat pie. Today's mom tries to keep a close proximity to that recipe but addresses the health concerns of her family.

These are some of our concerns: The beef must be at least 93% lean, or 7% fat. If your used to using a mix of ground pork and ground beef, this will increase the cooking time. Also pork is fattier, so we use a healthy substitute.

My mom used to roll milk crackers, but I've found a quicker method. We use seasoned bread stuffing.

The result is that you can easily make this meat stuffing for your pies in a jiffy.

I don't recall mom having a food processor, which is handy and facilitates the cooking time. Hers took a good part of the day, between the straining, and cooking down the pork in water with celery and onions, rolling crackers, and slow cooking, it took her days to prepare for the feast. Her stuffing was outstanding! You can add this recipe to your Quickie ones.

Laura's Heart-healthy Meat Pie
1 oz. Bell's seasoning
14 oz. chicken broth, low sodium, fat-free
7 oz. Arnold's Herb Seasoned Stuffing
14 oz. Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style
2 1/2 lbs. 93% Lean Ground Beef
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
1/4 cup smart balance spread

Saute chopped onions in a large pan, using the spread, add ground beef and ground sausage, mix thoroughly cooking on medium heat, stirring constantly. In your processor place chicken broth and stuffing, (let stuffing soften in broth). Add Bell's seasoning to meat in the pan, (remove extra fat with a paper towel if necessary), blend broth and stuffing in the processor and add to the meat, stirring thoroughly until well blended. Cool down before placing prepared stuffing in your pie shells. Makes (2) pies. Bake in a preheated oven 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turn down heat to 350 degrees. Cook to heat 30 minutes, maximum. Important! Make sure the stuffing mix is completely cooled before placing it in the pie shell.

A healthier pie. You can substitute mashed potatoes instead of the stuffing/broth, or use crackers. This makes the consistency perfect for pie cutting. I've tried the recipe without pork using just ground beef, that works as well.

Today, I'm using prepared pie crust. (Mrs. Smith's) Pies cut in 1/8 sections equal 7G of total fat. (We make sure that they have zero trans-fat and no cholesterol). Sodium another concern is only 135 mgs. I don't care for the bleached wheat flour in this product. Another substance I try to avoid is MSG.

No matter where you are tomorrow, enjoy the day, and when we bow our heads in prayer, we will be thinking of you, and are most grateful for the many prayers and blessing bestowed upon us through you, our friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Little Rye Bread

I am going to make you hungry for the good things baby. If eating can't be fun, forget it. I'm all about play. I've invented colorful little sandwiches, and dips which will make your taste buds long for another. Veggies can be so various that the sky is the limit. Beginning with two luscious avocado's and a guacamole mix, prepared several hours before, dipping with Pepperage Farm sesame seed sticks, for a tease. Then, placing little rye breads on a platter, spread the hummus, (I like the garlic blend), and cut thinly red peppers and pitted black olives, fold a piece of red leaf lettuce and top. Add a slice of thin tomato. (If you'd like you can top with 1/4 slice of your favorite cheese). Substitute tuna and egg salad along with hummus, for party planning. The little bread can be cut diagonally and placed to form a star, with your favorite relish in the center. For dessert, try Yogurt over crushed graham crackers, topped with fresh fruit and a lot of luscious cream.
Iced water with a slice of lime or lemon, after your meal, only.
This is a quick, and fun little lunch.

Tonight it was chili, I use 12oz. of rinsed B&M beans and up two 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef, one can of chopped tomotoes. I add a frozen bag of baby corn. (Cooking time about 10- 15 mins., after sauteeing with onions). It's served with sour cream and restaurant-style white tortilla chips.

Later in the evening we have our ice cream or yogurt.

Tomorrow should be fun! I'm making my French Canadian Meat Pies.

When the kids were little, we cooked broccoli and stuck them in the mashed potato mounds, calling them trees. And then, there were snowmen, here and there made from stacking mashed potato balls. Limited only by your creative imagination, healthy eating can be fun.