Monday, August 31, 2015

Some times are just like that

While we were recovering from our
illness that exhausted us,
we ate a lot of soup, healing, nourishing us.
I don't know why things are like they are sometime;
all I know is what I read about salvation is to 
try to bear our sorrows meekly, humbly and without complaint
but instead with thanksgiving.
And that by doing so we will be saved.
I am not good at doing this yet and I pray I will improve...
I was rather heartbroken by not being able
to speak with my husband to my Ottawa spiritual father
like we had all planned on.
It's all I could think of; the sadness of not seeing my 
dear sister-friend, my godson and the rest of them I could not
even bear on top of this...
like not going to our Greek Monastery as planned... 
At least I got to see my friend get married and I am thankful for this.
But coming back home after being so sick,
it was a relief but as we got better,
I found it a bumpy transition; 
I thought by year 3 that it would ease a bit,
but well.  It's still hard.
I am still needing to do so much work to build my new life.
Soon it will be better ~
my sewing class is back in session, the quilt guild
is going to begin again, my quilt-friend is back in town
and I hope to get my sewing machine out.
And take some train trips to Princeton in the fall,
and the like.
It just takes a lot of effort to keep doing the work,
to show up, to keep up with all I am doing.
We are having some special social things soon,
and things will be much more busy.
I do hope to look back at this time
and remember how our friend brought us wonderful
chicken soup, how so many loved us during
our away-from-home-illness and
that God was abundant in mercy....

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dormition of the Mother of God

In birth, you preserved your virginity; 
in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. 
As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, 
delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.
~ here.
We celebrated the Feast of the Dormition on Friday
and our priest blessed flowers,
of which we have some at home,
on our table.
So beautiful.
I love that this Feast is so much about how in 
dying the Mother of God became nearer to us,
not abandoning the world.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

reflections on a sermon and sickness

On the first weekend of the Dormition fast for us,
Mr. Husband and I heard a sermon that was 
about sickness and forgiveness.
I've been pondering it a lot since I heard it.
About how really hurting people are so wounded
that they hurt others 
though it was not their intent...
that we must forgive them,
must forgive everyone,
that we must love and that forgiveness and love is
what we most need to do...
First it was about a story of the priest's 
relative who died years ago and
who had a dysfunctional family life
and the one parent really failed her a lot.
The child grew up and was
very successful, interesting, had a great family;
but she could never forgive the parent who so
deeply failed her.
The priest told this woman, who by this time was old
and dying, that she must forgive her Mother....
that her Mother was sick, was doing the best she could,
and did not intentionally try to hurt her...
that it was the chain that she was dragging through her 
whole life was her unforgiveness towards her Mother.
The priest left and just a few days later,
his cousin died and he got a call to pray for her soul,
she had died only 10 minutes ago 
and had a message for him:
you're right.
So she forgave and was set free....
I am thinking a lot about that
and the understanding that people are often really sick and 
are not meaning to either fail people the way they 
are failing or hurting them...
And the call to forgive...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Letters from Father Seraphim + a few knit blocks

Over the last week,
Mr. Husband and I traveled to upstate New York,
Ottawa and then Montreal.
We fell ill on the trip and while a lot of things were
cancelled due to this illness,
I was able to read a lot from
the book, Letters from Fr. Seraphim,
and finished the book today.
It's an enjoyable read....
hard to categorize as the letters are responding
to Fr. Alexy when he was a laymen and then a very
new priest.
So many sections I have read to Mr. Husband over
the last week, it's such a down to earth book...
it stands as a guide in so many ways,
to what converts to Orthodoxy should watch out for
(i.e. common pitfalls), to how to deal with people
who are quite unwell on various levels, to
living quietly and authentically as an Orthodox Christian.
Anyone that has an interest in contemporary history of
Christianity and of the English language Orthodox culture,
books and churches, this book is a must.
I would say that the letters at times could be misunderstood
if you don't know the situation and culture at the time plus
the fairly recent changes in American Orthodoxy that concerned
Fr. Seraphim...but it's really quite level headed and showed a
part of Orthodoxy that I was not aware of,
as it happened 20+ years before my entry into the church....
It's a book with a challenge to us to
seek to be not of this world and what that means, looks like
and what we are going towards.
I've been reading books for years by Fr. Seraphim's
press, St. Herman's Press,
but this is the first book by him directly that
I've read; and I love letters so it was the perfect introduction for me.
Knitting ~ I thought I would have a lot more done,
but Mr. Husband and I did not know we
would fall ill Wed-Sat last week and
spend most of this week recovering...
I knit some things that I gave away already,
but a big part of my road trip knitting is seen below...

One large irregular shaped wash cloth/towel, one smaller cloth
and two more squares for my multi-coloured blanket. 
What are you reading and creating? Yarn Along with us!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

reflections on times of recovery

{I drew this while we were sick last week}

When Mr. Husband and I were ill last week,
I realized how quickly things change
and how in one fell swoop
we were sick and, by being sick,
incredibly weakened.
I had forgotten the immediacy of illness,
how it becomes the closest thing to you,
how, when really ill, you don't have strength to be 
what you thought you could be for others.
That Wednesday was going to be a busy day but good,
seeing my Ottawa priest in morning,
lunch with my godson and his family,
an afternoon appointment with my Ottawa naturopath 
about an allergic reaction I had been having
(it was the niacin supplement I was taking!)
and dinner with my godson's family.
We did see the naturopath,
where one of us was violently ill and I can't 
begin to tell you the kindness demonstrated in that office,
including letting us rest in an empty room as
we had not strength to drive...
and the kindness by many others...
My godson really wanted to see us; 
but we were so sick... he then wanted to 
skype with me 'right now'... his older brother
cried when he realized he was not going to see us,
the oldest was sad also...
But there was nothing I could do;
we were sick all day and all night... 
taking turns it seemed...
Between that and reading Joy's thoughtful posts
on rest/learning to not expect more than one can do/learning
to give time to oneself and one's family to recover
are making me slow down a bit,
be thankful, focus on loving, accepting
the need to do things even like
breaking the fast,
we had chicken soup and without that
 (and prayers of course of others)
we would not of made it home.
This is perhaps the hardest part of it all,
perhaps because I fear to be misunderstood...
but I can see that when one gets severely sick and
does not have much strength left
(when we were still in Montreal,
there were mornings that the only reason
I had strength to get out of bed at all
was by drinking Gatorade, which has a good dose of sugar)...
one's fast really becomes the illness...
I was thankful to read at my friend's house a bit of
St. Barsanuphius and John about this very fact,
of illness being the fast...
Sickness that makes one quickly lose 
nutrients, electrolytes and well, anything
one eats or drinks,
is something that takes time to recover from.
Realizing and accepting this,
it brings peace...
and the need for steadiness,
working towards patience... 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Seeking to be thankful in unexpected illness

We left Saturday,
by Monday night we were in Ottawa.
Tuesday night we were at my Ottawa parish
for the Feast of Transfiguration,
vesperal liturgy.
By early hours Wednesday morning 
I fell quite ill, husband falling ill just hours later.
Our plans for Wed-Friday were totally derailed;
visits to dear friends, seeing my godson, 
going to the Greek monastery in Quebec,
walking around old Montreal,
none of it happened.
We made it to most of my friend's wedding in Montreal on
Saturday later afternoon.
That was huge, to be there...
we really did not know if we would make it at all,
we saw a doctor that day and everything... 
We were too sick to go to the reception.
It was very disappointing!
But that we actual got to be at the wedding was wonderful.
We drove back home yesterday,
miraculously having the strength to drive the 6 hours plus
a 3 hour wait at the Canadian/US boarder.
We are so glad to be home.
Still tired but hoping that we are indeed past the 4 days of
gastrointestinal distress.
A simple meal of chicken noodle soup
at Friendly's on the way home
gave us the strength,
and many people's prayers, to make it home.

I was never so glad to see this meal
of dry toast and chicken noodle soup!
We are hoping to be fully well soon
and we are so so glad to be home!
I may not blog as regularly this week 
as I have a lot to catch up on 
and of course resting from
being ill.
I am so thankful that we normally are not 
in this distressed state and that we 
have a peaceful home to be in...

Friday, August 14, 2015

St. John and a short blog break... not to worry...

Back in June
a blog reader emailed asking me for a picture of 
We had moved since that picture
and our icon of St. John was waiting for a way for us to 
hang his beautiful icon in our library/chapel.
It's now hung!
So here are the pictures that were requested....

May Saint John pray for us!
My husband and I both love St. John very much! 
On another note... 
I am going to be away from the computer 
for most of the next week + full of days...
Just taking a needed break,
all is well and I will be back,
quite soon,
God willing! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

8 mini-loaves of Koek ~ in memorial....

Recipe here.
Makes 8 mini loaves instead of 3 big loaves.
Bake time about 35 minutes via the toothpick test for 'doneness'.  

Given out at my local church,
in my Pascha basket, 
for my friend A's newly departed father, V.
May God forgive his sins!
May God remember V in His Kingdom!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Young Unicorns + Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia

We've not been on the road
much these last weeks,
so knitting is still
the lovely white wash clothes.
Re-read L'Engle's The Young Unicorns.
Loved it as usual; it's one of my all-time favourites of hers. 
What hit me a lot this time
is what Vicky is supposed to be learning: 
it's OK to just be Vicky, as in herself,
she does not need a fancy title/profession/beauty 
to have purpose.
Her purpose is to be herself.
I've been thinking a lot over the last many months about
what my life is about.
It's quite different than when I was in Ottawa and single.
So I found this book really helpful.
I am about halfway through 
Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr is a favourite Saint
of many people, including those like myself
joined the Orthodox Church as an adult.
as Saint Elizabeth made the same decision...
She is another example of how the upper classes, some of them at least,
noblesse oblige, as my husband will say...
She was raised in a home that was deeply Christian 
and her growth as an adult in her Christian life is
I am comforted at how she, like many Saints,
did not require the sisters under her charge
to have the same incredible austerity that she practiced.
Between being married and continuing to
seek to be open to who I am at this point,
I am very glad that Orthodoxy, and indeed
Christianity at large, has room for those
who labour at a weaker strength...
 I hope to get back to my second many coloured blanket soon!
What are you reading and creating? 
Yarn Along with us! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A delicious summer meal...

1 chopped and sauted onion,
Organic ground beef cooked in fry pan
mild salsa sauce added to meat...
fresh garden tomato (YUM!)
shredded cheese
sour cream
soft taco shell,
some taco sauce on top, 
wrapped up simple delicious.
I forgot how much I love these! 
And so easy!!!
And for a family of two,
it means simple lunches and dinners as
we can make this meal go for at least 
a few meals... :) 

Mr. and Mrs. Cheesecake ;)

Delicious with a side of fruit salad!

Monday, August 10, 2015

July's lovely home style chicken dinner

In late July we had
a lovely older man from our local church over for dinner.
It was just a delight to hear his stories of this area
when he was a child; he was born just
blocks from where we live now.
It was a really special dinner!

Mashed Potatoes with milk, butter, salt, pepper
Mom's Applesauce
Dan-and-Mom-in-law's home grown beans
Green Salad from farmer's market
Small hot out of oven loaf of bread
cut up orange tomato
Chicken Gravy 
(little bit of chicken broth, the chicken fat from roasting pan with corn starch)
Small tomatoes in white ramekin from neighbor's garden

Oven Baked Potatoes for Mr. Husband who has been wanting them
Goat Cheese and Craisins for salad
Docs Original Hard Cider 
Lemonade and water

Delft Gravy Boat.

Delft Butter dish

Delft vase with three red roses,
blue and white plates, 
the normal extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the lettuce.

Decaf Earl Grey Tea, sugar and milk.
and Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The making of a homestyle Sunday Dinner

I began by getting the things for the 
fresh strawberry cream pie

Then I switched gears and prepared the chicken...
ginger-lemon chicken with thyme, similar to this one I did for 
Christmas, when I used sage instead of thyme.

 I used fresh strawberries for the middle of this pie... 

and frozen for the sauce...
there was not as many strawberries, so that was the main 
difference between the 2013 version and this one now, in 2015...

Note to self: use the normal mixer part, not wisk...

I used the double boiler to thaw the frozen strawberries and make the sauce.
While it did not come to a full boil, the sauce was still fine
and worked very well in these two pies...

I must of whipped the cream cheese 9 times! I did not kept track but kept 
adding a spoonful of powdered sugar each time, 
tasting it until it was slightly sweet and whipped to a good amount of softness,
so it was easily spreadable on the fragile crust.
I also had the cheese setting out for at least 2 hours to soften it before
I began. I only used sour cream this time for it, as I did not have
any usable heavy whipping cream... 

The pies worked well and are well enjoyed!
Recipe here.

I made a list of all I needed to do
for the dinner and
set the table the day before.

I find that if I do a lot of prep beforehand,
the day of goes a lot better...
The next thing I need to remember is to,
if possible,
is to wash up the dishes after the dinner party
so that the day after is not so difficult.
One thing at a time!
I do love doing dinners like these.
What I can't fully understand though is why it is such a big deal.
My Mom made Sunday dinners like this with apparent ease
and when I do them, it always seems more involved.
Mothers, they are magical!