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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Saying goodbye

Tomorrow is the first day of April, making today the final day, in the month of March. We are happy to end this month, taking hold of April with its promise of nice spring days. First, we have to get through April fool's day, which just happens to be my brother's birthday. That tells you something! We always used to look forward to teasing him, and other's. The way it went down is that we would say something which was not so....and try to get them to believe it. If they did....we would say, April Fool. It seems so ridiculous now, but it was fun for a large family back then, sort of playing, all in fun, and part of that, was to try and come up with something that the person would never guess. There is a downside to April Fools Day and that is, sometimes people think you are fooling them, and your not. My brother thought my mom was fooling when she announced that her robe had caught fire, while cooking in the kitchen. She caught her sleeves in the flames of a gas stove. Quick action saved her. I do not have a gas stove, but care should be made in wearing loose long sleeves when cooking. I'm all for joking around, but since that day, we changed our way of looking at April Fools Day. The only fool we knew after that, and of course, we never mentioned it, was my brother. I think mother nature is trying to fool us with the impending snow storm....What you do think?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Smile God loves You

Like many, I live to read the blogs that I find each day with varied subjects. Today, I happened upon the 10th rule of St. Benedict. It reminded me of the class we had last evening, where Diana and her husband Rich disclosed that they had attended a "marriage encounter course." One which teaches couples to exchange, their written feelings and thoughts. This is important because we are all individuals and have different ways of looking at things. Unless a discussion occurs, we may misread something someone has said, putting our own perspective on the subject, incorrectly. St. Benedict, in the setting he may have been in, certainly would not call for laughter, or any loudness or rudeness. My thoughts agreeably, would be that a charming person would never laugh out loud, but would show some teeth. I have been blessed with a sense of humor. There are times when I would want to belt out laughter, and roar over some stupid thing someone else has done, but restrain my self, thinking it to be unchristian like--and, a sort of degrading response to the other. God, I think, must have a wonderful smile and personality that matches His goodness. The first thing that anyone does, who approaches someone to help or greet, usually is wearing a smile. Especially, babies and children. It immediately answers their concern of your disposition. Have you ever tried to greet someone with a frown? I think it is always wise to put things in perspective. A smile usually indicates a person to be receptive, loving, friendly and caring. Laughter is something quite different. Somewhere, in my memory, I hear the laughter of children on a swing or, from watching a bubble go up into the sky, seeing fireworks on the 4th of July, a beautifully decorated birthday cake, Christmas morning, Pascha and egg finding. Or, excitedly passing the baton to another in a relay race and many other moments, like getting a piggy back ride from daddy. If you've been around children then you know there is such a thing a holy laughter, one of the best gifts that our Creator has given to us. It comes from the joy that we feel. Feelings are not wrong--they just are. Laughter is an essential part of our makeup. The book we have been sharing, For the Life of the World, fifth chapter "The Mystery of Love," talked about an elderly couple on a bench. They, in their many years together, created a small kingdom of love, having become King and Queen to each other, in their own little world. The author, speaking about an old and poor couple said the following: "They were sitting hand in hand, in silence, enjoying the pale light, the last warmth of the season. In silence: all words had been said, all passion exhausted, all storms at peace. The whole life was behind--yet all of it was now present, in this silence, in this light, in this warmth, in the silent unity of hands. Present--and ready for eternity, ripe for joy. " This is (Alexander Schmemann's) vision of marriage, of its heavenly beauty. The mystery of a working marriage is faith, work and love. To get to a stage where you do not need to say anything---cause you just know, and understand what the other is feeling, having taken a lifetime to find out--to love someone deeply regardless of the many imperfections, because you no longer see them, or they have become insignificant. And, yes, knowing that love is the treasure that you will keep for all eternity, present and shared together. The stones in the crowns placed on your head, during the wedding service, have become diamonds in polished gold, in it's fulfillment. Your love together, and the love of Christ, have transformed the world. Together, as you look upon each another, there is a smile, and a joy which springs eternal. Love is a gift. My mom and I used to sing this song when I was a child, maybe you remember it... Smile though your heart is aching... Smile even though it's breaking... when there are clouds in the sky you'll get by... If you smile through your fears and sorrow... smile and maybe tomorrow... you'll see the sun come shinning through for you... if you just smile. Life is not easy, but we are reminded that we are never alone. Smile, God loves you... So come on, show those pearly whites, and put on a happy face.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


This was a great weekend! We had the grand kids overnight on Friday, for no special reason, but it was special for us. What fun they are to be around. Before taking them home on Saturday, we decided to check out the airport, having heard several planes in the area but unfortunately, we didn't get to see any take off or land. It was extremely cold up on the hill and although it is spring, signs of the winter remain. Looking out of our window to the back wood, much snow lingers, while all the neighbors are snow free, as just about everyone else is. We seem to get it all. Signs of life are present if you look for them, like the pussy willows that have sprouted, and are a welcome sign of the wonder to come. The bush is one that I planted many years ago, from the tray of freshly cut willows placed with daffodils on the feast day of Holy Cross. We celebrated that feast day today, and then we went out to lunch on a wonderful sunny afternoon, which could have much warmer. Soon it will be time for vacation and I can't wait to be at the beach soaking in the sun, while walking the shoreline. Life is special and sometimes things happen, unexpectedly, like tonight, for no reason at all, my husband gave me a bouquet of roses. Love is what gives life meaning. It's those little special things that we do for one another, just because. He is a very sweet and special man. I'm lucky to have him in my life. Love springs eternal....

Friday, March 25, 2011

Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos

Gabriel announces the glad tidings to God's chosen vessel and upon her acceptance, salvation came into the world, among men; "He who cannot be contained is contained in a womb; the Timeless enters time; and His conception is without seed, His emptying as past telling: So great is this mystery! Fashioned as a creature, when the angel tells the pure Virgin of her conception: 'Hail, thou who art full of grace: the Lord who has great mercy is with thee.' "

"Gabriel, leader of the powers above, flew down and greeted the Virgin, saying: 'Hail, thou pure chariot of the divinity: God has loved thee from eternity, and He has chosen thee to be His dwelling. As a servant of thy Master am I come to proclaim His coming. Thou shalt bring forth the Lord, yet still remain inviolate.'

Small Vespers of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, (Tone 8)

'When God so wishes,' said the bodiless angel, the order of nature is overcome, and what is beyond man comes to pass. Believe that my sayings are true, O all-holy Lady, utterly without spot.' And she cried aloud, 'Let it be unto me according to thy word: and I shall bear Him that is without flesh, who shall borrow flesh from me, that through this mingling He may lead man up unto his ancient glory, for He alone has power so to do'

Great Vespers, (Tone 6)

"The Theotokos heard a voice she knew not, when the Archangel brought her the glad tidings of the Annunciation; and accepting the salutation with faith, she conceived Thee the pre-eternal God, who was pleased to become man ineffably, for the salvation of our souls.. " (Tone 4)

"Today is the crown of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery that is from all eternity. The Son of God becomes Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel announces the good tiding of grace."

"Having conceived God in ways past understanding, O Maiden, thou hast escaped from the ordinances of nature. For though by nature moral, thou wast not subject to the established laws of motherhood. Therefore, as is meet, dost thou hear the salutation: 'Hail, thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with thee.' "

"Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice: for the Son who is co eternal with the Father, sharing His throne and like Him without beginning, in His compassion and merciful love for mankind has submitted Himself to emptying, according to the good pleasure and the counsel of the Father; and He has gone to dwell in a virgin's womb that was sanctified beforehand by the Spirit, O marvel! God is come among men;"(Tone 8)

Resource: The Festal Menaion translated by; Mother Mary and Kallistos Ware

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A story of Life and Death

Today salvation came to the world, for today the Virgin Mary holds in her womb the uncontainable God, by choice.

This is no ordinary feast day.

Everything hung upon the decision of a young woman, Mary. No, this was not predestination, as erroneously held by some, and yes, she was pure, born under the same sentence as we, having come from the offspring of parents who were living on earth, also subjected to the condition as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, death and destruction.

Today, joy is revealed to a pure maiden, that upon agreement, she would be the Theotokos, Mother of God, The God bearer. God has found favor upon her. The Son of God, who in His birth will restore humanity to its rightful state by destroying death by His Death. All that was required by her was, YES. We are all given the chance to accept God's will. He is not a God who forces anything on us, nor did He force Himself onto Mary. She was given the "free will" choice presented by Angel Gabriel. Mary, could have said no. God knew she wouldn't. The road ahead would not be easy for a young Jewish maiden, nor all the ways that would pierce her heart. The heart of a mother is generous with compassion and love for her offspring. Mary did not have any other children, as some erroneously think. Jesus was her only child, the Son she delivered, and who, upon her death, delivered her.

Today is a story of Life and Death. A life that began in the womb. "The Son of God becomes the Son of Mary. A great mystery is revealed. Mary's, decision, was made manifest and He dwelt in her womb. Mary, Theotokos, above all creatures, O Pure One, Rejoice O full of Grace, the Lord is with you. It is He that will and has, vanquished death for all eternity, our God, your Son and the hope of all humanity.

This is a story about Life. A Life that springs Eternal. Life that is offered to you and me. That begins in the womb of Mary.

As Angel Gabriel knew, this was no ordinary mission, no ordinary accomplishment. This is the day we celebrate the Annunciation, of the Alpha and the Omega, First and Last, Beginning and ending, the Word of God made flesh, the Only begotton Son of God and Mary, for the salvation of the world.

Rejoice ever Virgin Bride.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We Have Stirred The Bees Nest

I'm reluctant to write this on a subject that has been on the mind of many American citizens and citizens of the world. Being a woman, and not having served in the military, certainly my comments do not stem from experience, but from observation. We have stirred the bees nest. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand what happens next. Maybe we could have avoided it, but should we have? I stand in agreement with the actions of our President. Doing nothing sends the wrong message, one that says we don't care...Is that what we have become?

People are raised to an anxiety level. Some are saying that it is the Republicans who back this effort, seeing it as a ploy to strategically gain foothold in an oil rich nation, where the world will benefit controlling the commodity for consumption, especially our counterparts, France and Brittan. Placing blame is fruitless, and that type of bashing leads only to internal struggle, conflict and unbalance which causes the nation to proceed in an unhealthy manner. We need to be unified, with consensus, solution and clear direction. A nation divided will fail. Was it really for oil? Other oil rich countries in that part of the world were part of the alliance.

It is not exaggerated to begin with the statement that Muammar al-Qaddafi assumed power as ruler in Libya, some forty-years ago in a coo, and has led a repressive government, one that lead to unrest, evidenced by the people that courageously rebelled against him. This has been an on-going event in that part of the world, lately, suggesting a larger picture, perhaps?

No matter how a person comes into power, judgement is a matter of deeds. We hear that this dictator participates in deadly missions, such as the killing of innocent people in the Pan Am flight to Scotland, which he initiated and was not brought to justice for, just one example. Our own president said that the mission is not to remove Qaddafi, but a political mission to liberate people, from their oppression, and quite possibly their death. It was also seen as an effort to curtail a humanitarian crisis. The effort was in response to the pleading of the citizens of Libya, to the United Nations, to establish a "no fly" zone to prevent their annihilation, from a murderous government, starvation and the like. He has lost legitimacy with his people.

One of the reasons that United Nation exists is to answer the humanitarian needs of the world. We, meaning of the nations, (those who care for the welfare of people against genocide), decided to avert a crisis, having no clear-cut answers. We have stirred the bees nest in a part of the world which is already "abuzz," some with a known hatred for their neighbor, Israel, and collectively, could and would carry out apocalyptic threats, if not for the watchful eye of a big brother who is not afraid to protect and defend the cause of the weaker from danger at any cost, at a moments notice. Some claim, we waited too long. Did we drag our feet with good reason, nonetheless?

Events transpiring are none of which anyone clearly wants to become involved in which clearly will have repercussions, but the world has become a small place. Every action has a reaction, which will play itself out down the road, good or bad. You know the drill, it is the leader that takes the rap. Who wants that job? So what we do know? Our President, responded with the other United Coalition, with United Nation Authority, as the "good neighbor," having taken his authority "as commander and chief" under the Constitution, with limited direction. Most polled Americans see it that way. The mission was clearly to liberate people under attack by their own government. Defined by a US led, structured military effort under the command of General Carter Ham. Not to remove Qaddafi, although most agree that he should go, because he has lost the legitimacy of his people. Remove his capability (weapons) in an effort to insure the safety of the people of Libya. The problem is that most people are short-sighted. They do not have all the facts, nor do they consider the region, and political situations and surroundings, thinking of everything in terms of oil consumption.

I have heard and am aware of all the controversy surrounding our unaffordable intervention and third US war, in an explosive powder keg, the Middle-East. Facing the unknown, we pray for our military and people who are doing merciful work in an unsettled world. It is complicated, and some would rather it go away, who doesn't? Nevertheless, it is here and we must face the inevitable, like it or not. We must be careful to abide by the letter of the law, where we can, and that means following procedures set in place by our constitution, not allowing our view to be under the U.N. Authority but working with it. We must consult with our congressional leaders. (In this case, we were promised that we would not have a preeminent role.) I have not understood that as yet, there is a clear exit plan, that will be made to be seen in time.

Seventy percent of our people have supported this endeavor, according to the polls which suggest that we are still a people of compassion. The compassion of our president has shown that he was willing to take away the big guns, and rid a mad-man who with his weaponry would choose to have blood on his hands, instead of seeking justice for his people, through reconciliation and peace.

It would seem that the world has taken on the role of big brother, (The United Nations). Was it right or wrong? I am opposed to a one-world government which causes structural problems within the military, as only one reason. Maybe it depends on who you ask. There are times when you have to do what you think is right. Let the chips fall where they may as we continue to pray for all people of the world and their leaders.

The safety net has been removed, and the bees have been stirred, and no one can hide from their sting. We have bought oil from Libya for forty years with no problem from Qaddafi, the man tried by his people and some world leaders to be an unstable leader, leaving little stability to a very uncertain and inflamed region of the world. Should he leave, who will take his place?

That is the question. Will the devil that we don't know, be worse than the one that we do know?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fundamentals of Faith

How can one truly participate in the Greatest Joy, Pascha, without having asked ourselves what the difference is between the Old Testament and the New. And, just what that difference means.

It begins on Holy Saturday Evening with the words "Shine, shine new Jerusalem! For the glory of the Lord has dawned over you. Dance now and be glad, Sion; as for you, pure One, rejoice in the resurrection of your child." "The angel cried out to her who is full of grace; Rejoice! And again I say, rejoice! Your Son is risen from the tomb on the third day."

Mary, the mother of God, a Jewish girl, and is ever virgin, is the bridge between the old and new testament. She is the God bearer. In the Old testament, the One the Jews are still waiting for, was indeed born of her and He is the fulfillment of the law, the awaited Savior. In place of Moses and the law, Christ is the salvation of our souls, by His Righteousness. The shadow of the law has passed away, those that do not recognize His coming, will find that it was Christ all along, the One that they rejected. (Taken from the Sixth ode on Holy Saturday Evening) "Your divinity and Your flesh remained as one; You exist in both, as Son, as Word of God, as God and man."

Pascha, the Pascha of the faithful; opened to us the gates of Paradise; sanctifying all believers.
The joy of Christians is in the eighth day, the day of Resurrection, and Ascension, Pentecost and the hope of the second coming of our Lord and Savior, in a day that does not end. We need not look back but look forward to the hope that is ours. Those who appear to celebrate joy, in the old testament, haven't anything to be joyful about. For them it will be the "first" coming of Christ, while ours,will be the second. We Christians have the only Joy that there could possibly be....Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again.

"Having endured the Cross, abolished death and risen from the dead, imbue our lives with peace, Lord, as the only almighty One."

Finally, learn the meaning of the Prophecy of Isaiah (52:13-15, 54-12). Especially, (54:1)"Sing O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in travail! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord."
The Orthodox Study guide says the following pertaining to this passage: "The Gentiles were once barren and desolate, but the Church of the Gentiles will give birth in the Spirit to many more ...children than Israel has in the flesh.-- "will be much greater and larger than the tabernacle constructed by Moses."

Taken from Holy Thursday Evening readings: "Thus says the Lord to His countrymen: "My people, what have I done to you or how have I disturbed you? I gave light to your blind; your lepers I cleansed; a bed-ridden man I raised up. My people, what have I done for you, and how have you repaid Me?"

Holy Thursday Evening: The Antiphon--"Today the Lord's own people nailed to the Cross the One who divided the sea with a staff and led them through the wilderness. The One Who visited the plagues on Egypt for their sake they pierced with a lance to His side. The One Who rained the manna on them for nourishment they offered gall to drink."

During the next month, we will begin to ponder these words ... (Luke 23:34) "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
Scriptural sources are from the Orthodox Study Bible.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Rock

Many years ago, during the summer months, we as a family, would go to swim at Carpenter's Pond. The entrance of water due to the contrast is always cold, even if the water temperature was warmed due to the heat from the sun. So the process of going into the water was gradual.

I can still picture myself going into the water slowly, cautiously. The feeling beneath my feet sometimes was mucky and slimy, but refreshing, the sun, hot on my back. It took awhile to wade in, while others ran in and jumped making a huge splash. Older kids could swim and they would do headstands, sticking their feet into the air for all to see. As I got older, I would do the same, but not this day.

Looking into the water, I spotted a rock, one which I would avoid stepping on, as rocks hurt the bottom of your feet. This rock stood out from the other rocks, revealing gold spots all over it. It seemed to glow in the sun and danced with joy even though it never moved from the spot it had settled in. That rock became a marker as each time I went swimming, I looked for it. It was still there, always there. Even on dark days, it was there and its special light could be seen. Light that permeated the darkness all around it.

If you were a rock, what would you look like? What effect would the darkness all around have on you. Would you still continue to be illumined, showing the way. Would you be unmovable through the conditions, turmoils of life?

I often wondered if the shinny metal went all the way into the center of the rock, or was it just on the exterior. It had to be a chip from a larger rock, which was not visible, but I could imagine the light that would extend from it. Especially when the sun shone on it exposing it's beauty.

That little rock was there just for me, and it was my treasure. I looked for it always, every time I went swimming as a little child. Then, one summer I grew up and no longer did I wade in, but like the older kids, I ran and jumped into the deeper part, ignoring the rock. The rock was still there but I had moved on, changed.

There was a lesson to learn from the little rock. It will always be there with it's brightness to shine amongst the muck which surrounds it. The light it has that shines forth will always win over darkness, even on the darkest day, lighting the way for all that come to the water. In some way it has become a beacon of hope for something larger. It stands alone, in shallow water, in front of the deepness that is to come. It is a symbol of an unextinguishable light source, and a reflection to those who look upon it.

We must all cling to the light of the rock and be rock bearers to a world that needs both hope and Light. A world without light is a world without hope.

Today's reading, Isaiah 5-20 "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"

Sometimes, you just need to take the example of a little bright stone. Does your light shine amongst the darkness? Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible: 1John -1:6 "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light as He is the light, we have fellowship with one another, " 1John 2:9 "He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness"

There is so much darkness in the world. We are to be the light, loving each other. I have always believed that America has served the world as a Christian Nation. Looking at the events that unfold in Japan, our hearts go out to them. They are living in dark days, surely we need to be counted among other nations providing for our brother. We must always be a beacon of hope, having received the Light, to those who need us.

Matthew 4:16 "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Being Prepared

Years ago people were self sufficient. Isolated families were living spread out all over with maybe one neighbor in riding distance. The years of 1790-1840 make a great read and causes us to pause and take notice, asking the question, are you prepared for a possible disaster, like Japan. The book is entitled "The Reshaping of Everyday Life," by: Jack Larkin.

It is concerning that calm is the order of the day in Japan, where people are getting on with their lives, ordinarily. I ask myself, do they know what has transpired? Are they less aware than we are as to the frightening events that have and are still happening to their country? Rationing electricity, and goods like food is reason enough for alarm, given the extensive damage and population. It is known to be a middle class country and looks modern and well developed. The question is --are they sustainable? How long can you be cold and hungry? Supplies will run out and rationing will become the norm. Should it happen here, are we? It makes one think, doesn't it?

My grandparents, who lived in the late 1800's were prepared for just about anything. They had farms and gardens and tools, livestock, and their own wells. They would never be out in the cold, utilizing the firewood from their land, and were proficient in processing candles, food stuff, wine, and household items, like lanterns and furniture. They feasted on meat, chicken, eggs and turned out butter and cheese. Recycling everything, they lived within their means. Medicines were grown, dried and hung in their pantry along with other spices and teas. They were secure.

Men had tobacco, smoked cigars and pipes and drank a bit of home brew. They were off the grid, using dehydration methods, for squash and apples and knew how to smoke meat, no refrigeration needed. Sheep and goats grazed the grass, and haying as well as cyclical duties to maintain their lifestyle were taught generation after generation.

Parties and music, games, books, sports and the like flavored their lives when they weren't working. They got along without cell phones and computers. Unlike people today, they knew who their God was and Worship Service was a priority. People loved one another, and depended on each other's talents.

I wonder if any crisis that they had, compared to what we are seeing on the television lately, everywhere you look. The magnitude of which is unthinkable.

My mom used to warn us about getting too big for our britches. Could be, she was right.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Your Image

Today makes twenty-three years since the death of my mother. I find myself remembering her by the picture that she gave all five of us children of her and my dad. It was one that I can visualize, in a small pantry with a sink. Their smile is priceless and she is wearing a yellow sweater that was one she frequently wore.

I am grateful for the image on the photo. One, that I can show my grandchildren, saying that was daddy's grandmother. She was a beautiful lady in so many ways. It is good to be able to have it as a reminder of her.

Our church is celebrating Orthodox Sunday today where we proclaim Christ our true God --honored by His saints in words, writing and Holy Icons.

While we worship and reverence Christ as God our Lord, we honor and venerate His Saints.

Holy Icons show us, for an example, of St. Luke, one of the first icon writers, what the mother of God looked like, her costume and what feast day is represented. It is good that we have these truths revealed and available as windows back to the event, at a time so different than ours, by the eyewitness.

These images are near and dear to our hearts.

The Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy is celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent.
Today we venerate His image while we sing.

Troparion of Orthodox Sunday, tone 2.

We venerate Your most pure image, O Good One;
and ask forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ our God.
Of Your good will You were pleased to ascend the cross in the flesh
and deliver Your creatures from bondage to the Enemy.
Therefore with thankfulness we cry aloud to You:
"You have filled all with joy, O our Savior,
for You alone have come to save the world."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sweets for the honey

This is the time of year, when in cold climates, sap is collected from red or black maple trees. In New England we have many variety's of maple trees. You have to know which one is a sugaring tree by the shape of the leaf that is produced in the springtime. The sugar producing tree has a leaf that does not v within it's leaf, but clearly has a u shape between points.

Collector's of the sap place a peg into the tree, close to the bottom, which allows the leaking of the sappy substance, a carbohydrate, to fall into a container, which looks like a water droplet dripping from the tap to the container. Once collected, it is boiled down to a syrupy stage, removing the water content. The process I saw was from a huge pot over a wood fire. Taking about 40 gallons to make one gallon of syrup, it is a labor of love. In order to process it into a Crystal-like stage, more cooking down is necessary.

It is placed in a container that looks like a crock pot with a hole at the base, from which came the molasses after separating, naturally. The rest, is hardened to be utilized as sugar. This hardened piece had to be chiseled off, or scraped off with a special kitchen tool, that looked like a grater. Many hands were busy in the kitchen in order to produce the sweet cake for a special desert. Needless to say, it was used sparingly, and appreciatively.

There is nothing to match the taste of maple syrup, even though the Cain process is similar. Sweet cakes has been a tradition here in New England, since the Indians taught us how sweet life can be. They used a different method -- theirs is one of heating up stones.

Visiting places where Maple sugaring is produced, makes a great outing this time of the year. Maybe you remember this song, "Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey." By The Drifters in 1961.

Because...We never get tired of our sugar all year 'round. I like to make sweets for those special people in my life.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let the Pruning Begin

Let the pruning begin on your fruit and small trees, that is if you can get to them. This is maple season in New England, where taps are seen in trees, sometimes with pails hanging from them. I understand that the New England Indians were the first ones to introduce the process of making syrup to early settler's in this area. Pancakes and sausage with syrup was always a staple in these parts, along with hot cereals and eggs of course.

Early farms would have roosters courting the yards along with big fat hens and some ready for the pot, on a fine cold New England noon time meal. Larger meals were consumed during the light and not by candlelight in the evening as people erroneously believe. Hence, the term supper was used instead of dinner. In between the noon meal and supper, was tea time. This is when the ladies would get together with a neighbor and sip tea and ate cakes, which looked like fat cookies, and do their needle work and knitting.

Today, I happened upon some sheep penned and grazing on the provided feed, when I noticed two small lambs. They came running to me, one doing some kind of cute dance in the process. Of the two, one had small antlers the other didn't. I wish that I could pick them up and it seemed that they wanted me to. I got close enough to notice the big blue eyes and white lashes. Like my baby grandson, they kept their eye on me as I left. I so wished that I had my grandchildren there to see how small and sweet they were.

Every one's talking about growing their own vegetables this year. One man told me he still had "keeper's" squash in his kitchen about two and a half years old. Wow, that is amazing. Some people still have root cellars, in which they place their produce on beds of sand to feed them without refrigeration, all winter. This part of the country was known for stews made from the vegetables grown containing: red onions, carrots, parsnip, and potatoes. They would use butter that they churned, and cut up vegetables which would be fried in the pot, adding dried seasonings and water, once precooked and left to stew until completely softened. Salt was always used as a preservative.

I think that is why we use so much salt, as it was needed and utilized by cooks, who used older recipes. Now, we can cut back on consumption, due to the advent of refrigeration.

I spoke with a man who is completely off the grid, so to speak. His lunch today was prepared last night on his wooden stove, from the vegetables that he grows in his own garden. He is consumed with all trade secrets, that come from his grandfather and generations before on how to survive in good "New England." He even has a remedy for slugs and other rodent loving critters who want in on a share of things.

Living on a farm then and now, is hard work. Cutting your own wood for the fire, and he tells me he has no TV, nor time for such. Just what does he do in his spare time? If he has any, I couldn't tell you. His lunch consisted of a jar of assorted vegetables, like a stew, and two hard-boiled eggs. He had a long thick beard, and appeared healthy, as he was whittling a wood carving, something you rarely see today accept if you are in the pinewood derby.

Just a couple of hundred years ago life was so different. Homes didn't have bathrooms, not even one. Children were fitted in their long johns for the winter, complete with the hatch in the back with two buttons. How they got their water was from a huge pot burning in the fireplace, that was scooped out as needed. Water was pumped from wells. It didn't have chemicals added to it and it was used wisely.

Shoes were changed at the door, and more comfortable ones were worn in the house. You always brought a change of shoes if you visited, placing knitted ones on your feet. Sometimes, these were provided by the hostess. They didn't have phones or Internet, and spoke to each other eye to eye. There was a whole lot of caring going on as they relied on each other for their needs big and small. Oh it was hard work, but rewarding, and some days, like those bad weather days, you simply stayed home. What you put into it, you got out of it. Recycling was a way of life, and hand-me-downs were good enough to pass down several generations, by just changing ribbon or lining. Things were made to last because they had too.

That is when you knew who your neighbor was.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Crunchy munchies

I read somewhere that if you want to eat less, then pick something that is hard or that takes long to chew. I'm not to sure, but I think they were talking about camel's brain. Anyway, they just chewed and chewed. What you can't consume, well that's what napkins are for. It is a sure way to keep you thin. Another trick was to buy something that you don't really like, or not your favorite, that will keep you out of the pantry. Another trick is to eat a small hard candy or to chew gum, as some find it helpful to have something in their mouth. There are many ways to fool the brain into thinking that your satisfied when in fact, you are not.

Abstaining from certain food groups, is an entirely different story. If I were alone, it would be easier still. But I have to satisfy a whole group of people with food allergies and other conditions which already make our choices limited. When I give up meat and dairy, I make sure that I eat nuts in it's place, but not around my grandson who has a peanut allergy. Years ago, my family just about lived on pasta and sauce with vegetables. Or, some kind of rice or wholesome bread. Now that my husband has a gluten free diet it complicates things a bit. While he can have a gluten free noodle, I cannot eat pasta or much rice because of the sugar content.

Fruit is good, but limited also because of the sugar. I'm already growing tired of my cabbage tomato soup, yet with green beans and carrots, although it makes a great hot and nutritional dish this time of the year.

I have a feeling that I will be eating a lot of cereal, 1/2 cup here and there. Black coffee was always the way I take it and flavored makes it feel like a special treat.

I bought some scallops for John, as he likes the little bay ones, and I don't. It's going to be a long time until Pascha. So, what I will eat remains to be seen. No ice cream tonight...Now that is what I really miss the most, even if it was 1/2 cup of lite only.

I found myself eating chips today and that is a big no-no for me as I am limited as to how much salt I can have. I'm supposed to have 5 or 6 small meals (snacks) a day. This ought to be interesting, otherwise, I'd just go without and fast. It is easier.

I'll tell you something that does work....Crunchy munchies. Using the Foreman grill, I place a 1/2 slice of Joseph Pita style whole wheat bread and toast it until crisp. Removing it to a plate, I spread hummus over it sparingly, adding salad ingredients on top. If I can roll it, I do. If not I break it up into pieces and enjoy it that way with cooked vegetables on top. I eat small grape tomatoes on the side, and believe it or not it is filling. Breakfast is usually cereal with ground flax seed and almond milk.

In between meals, I eat cashews and red grapes. If I had my way, I'd like to fast from snow and cold too. Maybe I'll try bean soup on my husband once again, just to see if he can tolerate it this time. If not, there's always shrimp chow mien, and good old fashioned bean sandwiches, veggie grinders and stuffed mushrooms and eggplant.

Saturday, I picked up two cabbage at the grocery store to make stuffed cabbage. This is one of our favorite meals this time of the year, beside shepherd's pie.

Guess I could get used to it. I enjoy being in the kitchen, where I make every meal fit for a king. Anytime of the year. Did you ever have coconut rolled dates with an almond in the center? At 130 calories, they are a fabulous dessert. Plain pop corn, or baked apples and homemade pretzels, and granola are also fun snacks that require little or no work at all for the happy homemaker.

When I was little, and mom was not up, we made bread, honey, banana and cinnamon sandwiches. I guess it just takes a little imagination and a lot of love. So now, just do it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Marker

One of my favorite pictures of my grandson Nate, is the one of him at the July 4th picnic, where he appears with a little white hat, the type that has a band under his chin. Jean and Steve had invited us to a lovely day at the lake and it was Nate's first experience in the water. The water was nice and warm that day and I waded in to play. Finally, he relaxed enough to enjoy the water, going in slightly. He was around the same age as Ryan is today, six months.. Clearly Ryan who watches his big brother swim each week, wants to just jump right in.

It was fun to watch the two brothers play ball tonight. Ryan can sit up just enough and long enough to try and push the brightly colored plastic yard ball in the direction of his brother. And the laughter tells us that they both are thrilled. Nate has waited a long time to have a brother, one he can play with.

The big event was today, and unfortunately Ryan missed it. He and daddy had a doctor's appointment and had to leave early. Nathan is now in a new level and each week, we notice the improvement, especially the confidence that he can do it. Remember he is the child that cried initially. Today, I watched him swim with just holding on to the noodle. No floater was used as previously. He swam on his back and then did something like the dog paddle, with longer strokes. Of course, he likes the slide, and jumps in with a splash.

All of a sudden, the instructor had the kids line up like little ducks and head to the end of the Olympic pool toward the deep end. Sure enough, they swam in the deepest water all the way down the roped off area, where the adults do laps. He took the lead arriving at the end of the pool first and alone for a bit and I was there at the finish line to congratulate him. While he was swimming he was calling out to me, "grandma, grandma" I knew he wanted me to see what he did. You bet I saw.

After the lap back, he was required to hold his breath and swim under the ropes. I didn't think he would do it. But, no problem, he did it twice. Today marked a level of achievement that said he did something significant. His father was surprised also, like me, he had doubts that he would do it.

And I was there to see it. As kids, we swam in a mud hole, a pond that had leaches in it. They didn't have a YMCA or lessons. We learned to swim the only way we could, with our friends. It is so good to see him having so much fun, in a safe environment with instructors that know how to bring out the best of each of their students.

Nate was happy to tell mom and daddy and grampy all about his experience. After all this was a great achievement and a marker on his way to becoming a very skilled swimmer.

I was so proud of him, and I'm going to remember it for a long time.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Forgiveness Sunday

Today is the day we begin our journey, and as we leave, travelling the road of repentance, we are reminded that we need to ask forgiveness of all those we have offended, in word, action or in any other way, known or unknown. If we can't forgive, we should not expect to be forgiven.

That is a lesson I learned many years ago from my friend, who was the first to ask for forgiveness from me by a little note that she had written in my English class, that was passed to me, as we were not currently talking. Oh it had to be some silly thing. Actually, we were good friends, who else would wait for me outdoors in the early morning, in all types of weather, in order to walk to school together. Many mornings I was late, and found her to be a very patient friend. If anyone should have been asking for forgiveness, it was probably me. Yet, she taught me that she was the bigger person, as she in doing what she did, showed me the value of her faith. Her faith, in a church that down the road, little to my be knowings, has become my own. God does have a sense of humor....It meant even changing to another faith. She had planted the seed of what it means to forgive. (Without forgiveness there can be no love, even for yourself).

It was a great feeling to make peace with her then, and it was a great feeling to make peace with the member's of the parish today, as we, in forgiving others, showed our love for them, our fellow neighbor, and humanity. This is what God has done for man. When you love someone, you can't be mad forever. God shows His love for us by His forgiveness, and restoration.

Today, I am extending an outstretched hand, and am asking for forgiveness. Please forgive the many times I may have injured or offended anyone by anything that I may have said or done. Let us live to love one another in the spirit of peace.

The Orthodox Study Bible "Joy of Forgiveness"--(Psalm32:1) "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered."

As we progress down the road of repentance, we will hear the words from Jesus on the cross.
(Luke 23-34) "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

We recite the Lord's prayer, where we are taught how we should pray. (Luke 11:2) "when you pray, say: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

This prayer is taken also from the Orthodox Liturgy. When we pray to "Our Father" we are but children, and as children, we all make mistakes, needing to be forgiven. We need to be the first to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness from those whom we have need of forgiveness from also, regardless of who is at fault. May you find it your heart to forgive me as I forgive you.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


We have reached the breakthrough of the Kingdom. The tone has changed and we begin Great Lent with the Vesperal Psalm, "Lord, I have cried unto You, hear me. Hear me O Lord," Receive the voice of my prayer, when I cry unto you, hear me, hear me, O Lord...."

And on this day, we proclaim the Great Prokeimenon announcing the beginning of Lent:

"Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant
for I am afflicted!
Hear me speedily,
Attend unto my soul and deliver it!"

It is a desperate call for divine help.

We hear the prayer of St. Ephrem, for the first time, and ask for mutual forgiveness, sorry to have hurt one another, (this follows our Divine Liturgy on Sunday).

The tones now will reflect the sadness we feel, as we move slowly through the desert of our life, until the great Light of the Kingdom shines on us. We experience a foretaste of the light of (Easter )Pascha.

The rite of reconciliation is here and love is our bond.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

Yesterday, we shared a lot of laughs. Sometimes we were joking about how many shepherd's were in the shepherd's pie and how small they were cut up.

Previously, we had inquiries on how we could be serving shepherd's pie during the fast. Normally people associate the pie as being one containing corn. Father's Shepherd's pie contains no corn. When we asked him about the meat or recipe for that matter, it is always a secret because it is too good to share. And, we are assuming that is meat? Well, what else could it possibly be, I hate to think about it. "He said that he "ground the shepherds up real small."
For the many who visit our community meal twice a month, they are too grateful to even ask what is in it. They are just so happy to get the meal, which is outstanding. I had to smell it all afternoon and it was driving me crazy....But, of course for those who are abstaining from meat, there was soup and bread. Many of the kitchens that serve the hungry, provide only that.

Linda who loves catering to the many who are happy to find special treats, which tells them we think they are special, even if no else does, or when they don't think they are, we do. Yesterday's special treat was angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whip. The dessert table is a popular place which rarely has any leftover, so you have to get there pronto, to get your favorite sweet thing.

I'm happy just thinking about all the smiles, cheerful greetings and small conversations that occur each and every time we get together. Friendships develop over a period, and as they leave, they leave with more than a full belly.

Many of the elderly, lonely, shut-ins that come look forward to the next occasion to be together, to see the priest that they all hold dear and the servers. They think it is a great program and so do I. No dishes, no cooking and lots of laughter. Food for the soul.

Next time, they'll be wearing green, as we will quite possibly be celebrating St. Patrick's Day, and having I'm told, some of that good Irish cooking, or is it Scottish?

For those of you who are still wondering about the Lenten version of Shepherd's pie, we simply use cashew's instead of the meat, layering it with corn and mashed potato. Delicious!

Hope you will consider joining in next time, where the church of St. Michael always welcomes you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Living in the New Age

Salvation for sinful humanity has been accomplished as told to us by Jesus, as He said (John 19:30)' "It is finished!" ' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. "

The creation of a new day has dawned for us. A day that has no night. This day is the day of Resurrection, Sunday, the eighth day, where those being saved by the power of the Holy Spirit, walk in the Light of Christ, which overcomes the darkness. The Kingdom of God is present, awaiting consummation in fullness for those that love Him. We are living in a "New Age."

Christ, is the Dayspring.

(Luke 1:76) "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

The Dayspring is the messiah who brings light, and life to those in darkness. There are only two choices darkness or light. In (psalm 107, 8)we give thanks to the Lord for His Great Works of Deliverance. "Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! (9) "For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."

From the Prophet Isaiah (9:1) "Do this first and do it quickly: O country of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, and the rest dwelling along the seacoast and parts of Judea, and the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, a people who walk in darkness, behold a great light; and you who dwell in the country of the shadow of death, upon you a light will shine." (6) Great shall be His government, and of His peace there is no end. His peace shall be upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order and establish it with righteousness and judgement, from that time forward and unto ages of ages. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this."

This is the time of mission. How do you attain life in the Kingdom? You must believe in Him, Christ the Lord. ("John 3-16)"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life, (17) "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (19) "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

Why are you here? What is your purpose? Do you value your soul? These are "age old" questions that are answered by (Matthew in chapter 16:26.) "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (27) "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works."

If this is the message and mission of the New Age, what are your deeds and, who is your God? What is your mission?

Scriptural references are taken from the Orthodox Study Bible

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Time of Mission

Now that I am retired, I finally have the time to enjoy reading. It used to be that I was so tired, I'd fall asleep while reading, then it was reread and reread, usually losing the meaning on the way. I have many different books but I tend to like educational studies and this book is just an example of that. For the Life of the World, written by: Alexander Schmenann is full of surprises. I'm reading three of his works currently.

Chapter three is entitled, The Time of Mission, and from time to time, you find yourself asking what it meant that "all generations, all philosophers have always been aware of this anxiety of time, of it paradox. All philosophy, all religion is ultimately an attempt to solve the "problem of time." Then he states that the Church offers a gift.

Time is a strange animal. When your waiting for something, it seems like forever. As you get older, it seems to go so quickly. Time can be a measurement. Time can be a stillness. Did you ever experience falling asleep and feel like you have been sleeping a very long time, only to discover that it has been only a few minutes. There is the present time, past time, and future. The fullness of time, and time well spent or, meaningful time. Then comes the statement, "Time is the only reality of life, yet it is a strangely nonexistent reality." Why? There is no such thing as time to God. It's man-made.

Somewhere in the text the idea comes across as "rush" and "relaxation." That is a good summary. Then, of course there is summertime, opposed to winter time. Fall, is the best time, and who doesn't like spring with all the newness. We are inspired by all the color and change. Ah, the springtime of your life. Then, the time of your "golden years."

Most importantly, is the time of Mission. Have you ever heard the expression, "make hay while the sun shines." Because we are here with purpose, and it is and should be our priority.
The fact is, time is a mystery. Something we will never be able to understand. Some see it as a cycle, circle, and we know it also to be eternal. God is and was and always will be. In Rev. 21:5-6 God is revealed as the Alpha and Omega, "first and last." This is when the end is transformed into the beginning.

The Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, is example and prefigurement of the ushering in and coming of the Kingdom. Foreshadowing His future Glory, appearing in the present with his disciples, and with Moses and Elijah manifesting the communion of saints, the law and prophets the living and the dead. From eternity past, He is the Son of God, fully sharing in the essence of the Father, true God of true God. A dazzling light surrounded Christ, for He is the Light of the world. The Present, Past and Future.

Then the author throws us a bone saying "did Christ, the Son of God, rise from the dead on the first day of the week?" The fourth Gospel, tells us He appeared to His disciples on the first day (Jun. 20:19) and then "after eight days" (20:26)." Time has taken on a new meaning. All time has been transformed into remembrance and expectation, in a new beginning because of Christ's fulfillment. Our time is now the endless day. A day without night, a fixed day "Christian Time"-- Resurrection Sunday, we enter into the "sacrament of the world to come, the liturgy of fulfillment and ascension to the Kingdom where we participate in the messianic banquet in the "age to come," and in this Eucharistic feast of Victory, once and for all time, we celebrate the risen Christ, who fills our time with great hope and expectation. And, we are transformed.

We go forth and declare "I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord." This gives new meaning to time for all mankind, "eternal life". "Through the Cross, joy has come into all the world." "It is Finished!"