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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Survey Says

If you want to know how you are doing, you must take a survey to gain access to people's thoughts. There is another way, of course there always is, and that is to get someone to gain your trust, and they will surely tell all.

Last night at the turkey party I got an earful about what people were thinking and saying about St. Michael's Church. I am pleased to report that they are finding it "changed". Yes, changed. One man who was sitting across the table from me, stated that "it isn't like it used to be." Not willing to pursue a negative discussion, I moved the subject by saying that we are trying to make improvements, and named some of the things we've done recently. They have observed a different atmosphere, a "happier" looking place.

The "big topic" was our priest, how much they all like him, enjoy his cooking and the community meal, which has been growing in the past few months. Just wait! I've got a feeling that we haven't seen anything yet as the word is now out. The only drawback to this endeavor is that our back entrance is not easily accessible in the winter, if at all. The front offers a great deal of difficulty for the elderly because of the number and steepness of our stairs going down to the community meal room. Our own parishioners have also shared this concern. (All except the younger ones, who will someday find out what we mean). The elderly lady sitting next to me, said she was going to "hold it" in order to avoid the stairs. Bathrooms are visible to the left, with fewer stairs from the upstairs entrance. That means, from the hall, an elderly person would be required to climb up the roadway to access the bathroom. I told them we are working on that. Hopefully, it will be one of our next projects.
I thought of the many times, that I did what the lady said, and waited until I got home. One possibility would be to serve from the Museum, we'll have to give that some thought, as we have done that in the past.

What we need is the Lord to send us some hard cold cash, NOW! We use Porto-potties, which are just not practical in the cold of October.

Even so, people were there to have fun, and as we had to set up more tables to bring them in, this event was well attended, and by the look of things, they had a good time. I spoke about our evening services in November, and because people wanted to know when, maybe it would be beneficial to post those dates on our "community board" which is next to the coffee server.

The man and woman told me that their whole family was out of work, and luckily for them, they are at the Lebanon Hill complex for seniors where everything is paid for, with few exceptions. Nevertheless, they were happy that $20. and a turkey would be shared with their entire family and that they would have a wonderful Thanksgiving feast. I will get mine at the community meal, as I did not go home with anything but a good feeling.

She told me I was a "nice lady" and that she was glad she got to sit next to me. She had a fun evening and so did her husband, who laughed all night and reminded me of my dad, (who passed away in October more than twenty-seven years ago). He had only one concern, "where to put the turkey?" It seems in the housing they have, they do not have the freezer capacity. What to do? So I suggested that they call someone who has a freezer close by and who could pick it up for them. No problem, I had a cell phone.

This event at our church has been attracting people for thirty somewhat years. It was full of new and old faces last night. There was a good affordable meal available and well received. Others partook of the "free" popcorn, coffee and pastry.

My friend, Linda won a fruit basket and Henrietta won a turkey and $$ for the trimming. All and all I'd say it was "fruitful."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Will you be missed?

Last week that phase stuck in my head. If our church, St. Michael's, were to close, would we be missed in our community? That question was posed to us recently for contemplation.

That is a heavy statement which one has to ponder a bit. The priest would be missed as he is socially engaged through out the community. Speaking of community, today when I went to the hospital for routine test, the answer came to me in an unusual way. The minute I stepped up to the counter, Mary (written on her name tag), said "are you the one who helps out at the Community Meal?" She didn't look like any of the elderly ladies I had already met, then she added that she missed going, being unable to attend the free meal, the last two times.

She continued by saying that Father Peter was a good cook and that all the people look forward to going for social reasons and how wonderful it is to be an active part in serving the greater community. She mentioned that everyone is talking "positive about our church," hall and people who serve. Mostly, they love our priest, who she mentioned first.

I added that we were making plans to do more, and that we enjoy every minute of it. She added that it is hard work and allot of peeling, and I agreed. I have an invitation to theirs coming up, which will be this time, beef stew. Ours, turkey and the fixings. Life is good. And, yes, if you want your church community to grow, you have to work at it, planting flowers, and seeds. But mostly, it is the little touches that people remember, like your smile and your taking a moment to listen to them, because they are important.

St. Michael's Church does much for our community, by way of it's events, services and it puts smiles on people's faces. We would be missed. We simply do what we can, and that's all we can do. Small parishes can and do accomplish great things for our community! The key is to reach out, and in Mary's words learn, "how can we serve you?"

Because, we are all needy in one way or another and as the bible tells us, (Orthodox Study Bible}--James 2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Morbid Sense of Humor

Just how am I to express how I felt this morning when I looked at Fox news and found that it had reported a very sad account. Shamefully, that it was thought a joke by a comedian, who made fun of an Icon of Christ, and compared a disgusting act of urinating on it, to the tears of Christian martyrs. (I'm glad that I do not subscribe to the movie channel, HBO).

I was sad, no that's not strong enough. What has, no, what is becoming of us as a people, to make fun of "holy things?" Are these different times? No, I think not. (No one can take the victory from us, ever!) No matter what they do. But, as I sat and listened to the elements outside, today, the rush of the winds, howling, the darkness and the rain, I was reminded that there is such thing as "taking the good with the bad." And, standing firm in faith. There will be justice someday, not my concern. But today, my heart grieves.

We are to pray for our enemies, turn the other cheek. Return good for evil. Love those that hate us. Treat others they way you would have them treat you. (Does that also include our Icon's)? I take offense to such actions, feeling personally persecuted. Then, I recall the transformation of Saul Paul who was confronted by Christ. (The battle after all has already been won). I recall hearing the words "Vengeance is mine saith the Lord." And, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." The action was wrong, yet, who am I to judge my brother. God loves "all" his children.

The day emanates with sadness and tears, like the sopping cold rain. What do I do with this pain? My Lord has been laughed at and worse, publicly... and I'm truly mad. Our priest is on the road again, and forwarded a message on Facebook, which I believe was for a general audience, but applied to me personally. He said, "I found the sun, and it is in Central PA." With those words, I found it too! So I commented, "Send me some." For in this very dark world, one can always find a ray of hope. Glory to You, O Lord, Glory to You!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A day of celebration

Understanding the need of your child effects positive result. It begins with communication. In this case knowing that your child wants and needs to please you. It can be confusing, for example, as a baby there is no bathroom responsibility. Out comes the potty and now comfortable or not in our previous accommodation, the diaper, we now must use a toilet.

It is a big step in the growth and development of a small child. When the parents think it will never happen and their about to give up, a small wonder... the child catches on. I do believe that boys take longer than girls, for some reason.

The key is to zone in on specifics of your child. In this case the young man is very smart and sensitive at the same time. He wants to feel good about his accomplishments, and is devastated into almost giving up when criticized. He's always been cautious by nature. But then, there's no stopping him once he is confident that it is safe.

As the child gets older the parents are embarrassed when he or she is not toilet trained especially when day care providers start with their wisecracks. Everyone else is, why not "Johnny" or Jill, even the younger children are. "How's he doing with the potty?" Talk about putting on the guilt trip. The parents become beside themselves, wondering what they are doing wrong. Surely, everyone knows that they have tried everything. The first question is "is the child ready?" or obstinate. Maybe their child is just to absorbed in whatever they are doing, and not really listening.

Listening is never a problem when it is something they want. Sometimes giving a child his reward first works. Sometimes right after a job well done works suggesting that every child is different and interacts differently with different people. It depends what they can get away with and they know. Irregardless, they must learn to be toilet trained, and it's your responsibility. It is a long repetitious process which takes more patience than most working parents have.

Today, was a celebration! A job well-done by the parents who raised his awareness of having to, by setting a timer all by himself, because he likes to show us what he can do, because he is a very smart boy. Now, having done that, the alarm reminds him "to check in to the bathroom." A habit which has proved to be successful. Then there are the "rules" that we go before leaving the house and once we return and before going to bed and when we get up. After all, all he wants is to be a good boy for his parents, so they will love him, as they surely do, because he lives for them.

The reward was praise from his parents and all who would listen. He is now wearing big-boy pants, having crossed a new thresh hold and is like his peers, wearing "no more baby pull ups". He's advanced, proudly. His voice reflected how happy he felt.

Showing further confidence in his ability to handle bathroom responsibilities, he was allow to "dispose of the former," and in exchange, is wearing Wally underwear.

Grandma was so happy! He got cookies and grapes, a huge sticker and many hugs. Yes he can do it. All he had to do was believe in himself. Will he still hang on to my drapes, looking down at the floor on occasion, or mess up from time to time? Perhaps. I'm sure we all did. I'm sure he probably has that on the back of his mind, too! It's only natural.

Today I saw on his dad's hand held camera, the video of when he was walking for the first time. I think it was the third day and it was quite humorous. Looking very stiff, a reminder of how scary it was, he was probably thinking that at any given moment, he would fall, once again. I remember the joy I felt on that Easter Sunday, when he came to visit and I saw him walking down the hall, all grown up in a little suit.

Isn't that what life is all about? Falling and getting up again and in it's experience knowing that no, we don't want to do that again.

All I know is that he was happy that he made someone he loves, his daddy, very very happy. And that made him happy too! Because, he proudly is a big boy now.

He is a man after all just in smaller trousers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Saint James, the Just

Today we remember the brother of the Lord, St. James the Just, who was not one of the original apostles, and who was named by the apostles, the Bishop of Jerusalem. Known in the early days of the church to quell disputes among Christians.

The Liturgy that will be celebrated today, will remind you of the earlier tie between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church in several ways. The service begins from the back of the Church. The bread will be given without the spoon, in the right hand, and wine from the chalice, to those who receive the Body and Blood of Christ, (the way the priests receive it.) This requires several priests to serve. I have had the opportunity to attend the Liturgy of St. James, on his feast day last year. The hymns and words are a little different and very beautiful.

"According to some, this Saint was a son of Joseph the Betrothed, born of the wife that the latter had before he was betrothed to the Ever-virgin. Hence he was the brother of the Lord, Who was also thought to be the son of Joseph (Matt. 13: 55). But some say that he was a nephew of Joseph, and the son of his brother Cleopas, who was also called Alphaeus and Mary his wife, who was the first cousin of the Theotokos. But even according to this genealogy, he was still called, according to the idiom of the Scriptures, the Lord's brother because of their kinship."

This James is called the Just. Go here (Mark 15:40) to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee. More information can be found here.

Another source is here.

This year's celebration was held out of town and unfortunately, I was unable to attend. St. James was known for his "boldness" for the faith, which we need to think and pray about today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

White Frost

There are different degrees of frost, today it is "white" frost. That is what is visible on the neighbor's rooftops this morning. The plants are glittering as if syrup has been poured on them and sprinkled with fairy dust. They will die now, it is the end of what was a beautiful garden, and I will be sad to see it go.

Yesterday, while praying at the church, I observed that the impatiens were long gone, perhaps since last week when a snow storm hit this area, taking out the most vulnerable of plants. Yet, the roses were still in a budding state and looked great. Now, this is a killing frost only plants that were sheltered may have made it, if they can endure the cold. If I could, I would wrap my hands around each one of them, trying in an effort to preserve that which is destined to have but a season.

As the days grow shorter, we must take a lesson from nature. Bill said it was below 30 degrees on the hill, as he works to maintain his snow blower. Our two vehicles are 4 wheel drive as we live in a hilly area which gets a fair amount of snow, it is a necessity.

Along with the changed weather, the aged family members are feeling poorly, so today I will make my famous chicken soup and become a delivery service. I hope also to make chicken pot pie for our evening get-together and some colorful cut-out sugar cookies, (pumpkins, teddy bears and cats). If there is time, a carrot cake with cream cheese, (my husband's favorite), for the Thursday community meal at the church, and a homemade bread.

I sure wish my kitchen were a little bigger, but wishing does not make it so. I love being in it cooking for those I love. Yes, I will miss my gardens but will dream of the coming spring surprises.

Oh I can smell it now, hot apple cider with cinnamon, and time for a smile and a chat.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reflecting October Weather

Today at coffee following our church service, a scrapbook was passed around showing a recent wedding held in Romania. I couldn't held but observe the wonderful weather they were having, and, as I did make mention of it, Carol said that Paul related a change the very next day. That's October, warm one day and cold the next.

That is how it happens here in the states in New England. One day the tree seemingly vivid for a day, is blown clear of it's leafy brilliance and left bare amidst the sunny yet dark cloudy sky of bitter-sweet. It is how I remember it last year and the year my dad passed away unexpectedly, while taking a brisk walk on a lovely, sunny, yet dark puffy clouded Autumn afternoon.

A time when you see and hear the winds blowing in the cooler temperatures and morning frost begins to appear on your rooftop and windshield. While the birds fly in uniformity going south, loudly. A hint of the wood stoves permeating the air, and thoughts of apple pie, pumpkins, and Thanksgiving visit you, reminiscing times past with family and friends.

Here in New England talk of the Patriots and the Bruins help you forget that winterizing doesn't necessarily mean that fun at the beach is all that there is. Instead of ice cream, it's chili and chowders.

Last week was unusual at least, weather wise. John and I spent time in Maine vacationing, where we witnessed a huge rainbow, more brilliant than any I recall seeing lately, yet it was surrounded by black clouds, a reminder that up North, they would be having snow in the evening. Our weather was fantastic, allowing us to walk the beach for five miles at a time, and stroll in the evening even though it got dark earlier.

This A.M. brought rain, of course, especially when coming out of church in Massachusetts. Yet in Connecticut this evening, after the play and dinner, we experienced large snow flakes, which did not stick to the ground, unlike it did in the hills of Worcester County this past week, with a small snow accumulation. We live on the border of the two states.

One of my sons hobby is observing weather. His yard and home are filled with scientific gauges in which he monitors conditions throughout the year. So, it came as no surprise that he transmitted a picture of the snow "that we missed" while away, and sent a text message along with it. His son is very much like him, going from window to window to watch the snow and other precipitation falling from the sky. I often wonder who is worse. I asked his mom Saturday and she said Nate was complaining that he couldn't see the snowflakes falling while sitting in the bathtub. It all happens so quickly, one day it's fall and the next it's winter. Blink and the summer is gone.

I can hear the wind outside tonight, which tells me it can be brutally cold when your walking, snow or not. Can we ever prepare ourselves for what we know is coming, Like it or not?

I will take a cup of tea and tell myself how pleasant it is. Come to think of it, I haven't even had a chance to view tomorrow's weather report. Sometimes it's better not to know. October is like that. You've got to be prepared for whatever is dished out.

Maybe, I'll cuddle up in a nice chair and read a good book. It's all what you make it. Are you ready?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rise 'n Shine

Last night Bill told me the latest story on Nathan. Of course on a Holiday, like yesterday, you are hoping to sleep in later. Upon waking up Nathan tip-toed into his parent's bedroom, only to find them sleeping, (so he thought). His parents were just pretending to see what he would do.

Nathan went down the hall to the big toy room, (family room upstairs), and returned with a toy. He then placed the toy on the floor near mommy and daddy and played the "rooster," one of many animal sounds. Then, he said, "mommy and daddy, it's time to wake up!"

Children today are very bright. His parents are still laughing over that one. Where on earth did he get that idea? So much for sleeping in. It was a holiday, and Nathan wasn't going to miss not one moment of fun with mom and dad.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I had the luck of having my grandson Friday overnight through Saturday evening. We had so much fun, as always trying to get it all in, favorite places, toys and foods.

It was time for new videos, and new toys and having those great heart to heart talks. Its hard to remember all that was said. I recall him telling me again how much he likes the orange flowers I plant in my garden each year. He tells me when Chippy (the chipmonk) is near and Blackie the cat, that brings me dead mice.

We played band, banging on tin pie plates while wearing our green plastic St. Patrick's Day hats. It was cars, monster trucks, airplanes and puzzles. Grampy read book after book, while I prepared dinner.

It was a couple of wonderful days. Then, just before his dad picked him up, he said the most wonderful words to me that I had ever heard. I don't even know where he learned such a thing, telling me what I meant to him and how special I was. I was so shocked that it came from a three year old. Who no question, loves his grandmother and that is a very special blessing.

At coffee this morning, I shared my story with our parish priest, who said "out of the mouth of babes." It is true that children are not shy or inhibited and because of that, love comes easy. We need to be like that. Saying we love someone is often difficult for reasons of shyness or inability to express something so personal. Yet, someone out there is waiting for you to say it. It will mean the world to them, as that might be all they are living for, your love.

You've been trying to tell them in so many ways, they probably already know, but are just waiting to hear the words we all need to hear. Don't be shy. Take the example from out of the mouth of babes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Not quick to blink

Those of you who know me know that I am not quick to blink. That means that I am not gullible. In fact, I am over cautious about anything that goes into my body. I do not even take aspirins or cold remedies. I believe instead in prevention, where possible. Yet, I'm no fool. There are people out there who are predicting "the big one". The long over-due flu epidemic which will, if it is a pandemic, take the lives of many, especially the most vulnerable.

The state that I live in has a bill in which mandating the flu shot may be imposed on it's residents. I do not believe that the government at the state level especially, has the right to play God.

It is still and always will be my body and my decision. What offends me is when I am being manipulated to do or believe in something by other's deciding what I want or need. God gave me my own brain and I am capable of making an adult decision on every level, given the information, so far as I am able. There is only one word for "we believe, we say, we conclude, we decided, and that is "sneaky controlling." I have my own beliefs.

Easy for other people to say, you should get your flu shot, not taking into account that we are individuals and as such, may have a different outcome. I am mulling tonight over whether or not I will have the flu shot, as suggested my physician and priest. I value their opinion.

I am not impulsive by nature and find that I will mull through a decision, not taking unnecessary risks. So what is bothering me? The chemical Thimerosal. If they offer a formula free of this dangerous additive, I would not hesitate. Yet, if I got the H1N1 virus, who knows? This is a moral decision, as I am responsible for what I put into my body. As a Christian, I take my responsibility seriously.

The findings of this chemical additive, (inorganic mercury exposure) causes poisoning which causes neurological damage and death.

Immunization Safety Review Committee
"The IOM urged that "full consideration be given to removing thimerosal from any biological product to which infants, children, and pregnant women are exposed" (IOM 2001). Routine administration of influenza vaccine is recommended in pregnant women, yet currently available U.S. licensed influenza vaccines contain thimerosal. Why are pregnant women receiving influenza vaccine containing thimerosal?" " Nonetheless, FDA is in discussions with manufacturers of influenza vaccine encouraging them to further increase the supply of preservative-free formulations." I am a bottom-line person, I think you have some idea of my thinking. We need to be informed, not led blindly. If you want to read more go here.

So, I remain indecisive. Sigmund Freud said, "In the small matters trust the mind, in the large ones the heart." As I way the options, I realize that there is no "right decision." Just choices and consequences, to which I will give prayerful consideration.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Focus on God

What will result in seeing and loving God? Happiness...

You can be surrounded by all evils and still live in the light of God by placing your focus on Him, and on His words. I believe the greater sin is not seeing Him in everyone and everything.

Do not be weighed down by the cares of this world. Instead, sing praises to His name, then, decide how today, by some small action, you can make this world a better place, and you will find love.

Love is the special gift that only He can give us. It is what Orthodoxy is to me. If you have Love you have everything.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Inside Sunshine

I arrived early at the Yard Sale on the grounds of St. Michael's Parish, where things were already bustling inside with busy customers and Linda pricing items that were brought in today. She was to be the cashier and because breakfast became a floor item, we sent John out to buy food before we resorted to pastry.

It was pouring and dark. The only way not to get soaked was to make a dash from the car. Luckily, there was a continuous stream of people coming through the door. The only problem was the door was left open constantly. I quickly became a multi-tasker initially, to close the door, as the heat was on, and to benefit those who checked out the items. The floor became wet at the entrance, which was not too good for people with canes, so out came the mop. (Not anything I'm not familiar with). That was to no avail, as the floor would not dry. I came up with the resolution of laying newspaper covered with paper bags to absorb the water. Luckily, it did the trick, and it was funny at that, watching people automatically wipe their feet before entering. New England folk are used to wearing boots six months of the year. Often, we placed newspaper at the door, and as it dryed we would turn it over to reuse.

It was fun greeting people as they came in, sharing their enthusiasm in finding something to take back, to brighten their day. At the same time, many sat and shared pastry and coffee with friends. People asked me questions, like if we were serving lunch and at what time. I presold our next event, the Turkey Party and Spaghetti Feed and thanked them for stopping by, inviting them to have a nice day. I was a door facilitator, floor mopper, greeter, and general informer for shoppers and the daily news, and managed to find a few trinkets for myself and family. (All and all it was a good day).

Standing there I observed something that I took home with me. On one side of the door was sunshine, and all that spoke of a bright and happy fall, with happy people inside enjoying themselves, while just beyond the threshold, on the other side was darkness and misery. And all you had to do was enter in. Enter in or stay out in the cold. Sounds like there is a lesson to be learned here.

Raining on our Parade

I know that "raining on our parade is an old expression" so, for younger readers it implies that today, for our church yard and food sale, a damper may be placed on it. Hopefully, not. Yet, all the harvest scarecrows and pumpkins outdoors will get a free bath. The hall floor will be most likely slippery when browsers come along to look at the indoor yard sale items.

As luck would have it, there is also a bake sale going on in the nicely decorated hall, with havest flowers and bright signs. Linen tablecovers are yellow with brown stripes, except for the orange layout with leaf patterns which with be covered hopefully with fudge, orange cookies, baklava and other treats for sale.

A food court, with four round tables will accommodate hungry lunch visitors, when soups on. Pita's, coffee and dessert usually go over pretty well at our church. I can hear the lively conversation even now!

If your in the neighborhood, stop by and maybe you'll find a treasure or two. No matter what the weather, we plan to have fun!