Sunday, December 27, 2009

Technical Difficulties - Check back in 2010

Our driver crashed, so I haven't been able to post for a while.

But posts are playing in my mind. Here's what you'll find if you check back in a week:

Recipe for the St. Herman Salmon Potato Pie

Review of the much anticipated The Woman and the Wheat

Report on Gifts from God

In the mean time, may you enjoy your families as much as I've been enjoying mine!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remembering St. Herman

With dear friends,

and a book,

and an Alaskan-themed meal.

After last year's plans for Salmon Patties failed, I was grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate the life of St. Herman this past weekend.

We sang the lovely troparion of the feast, then we enjoyed Alaskan Salmon & Potato Pie, Sweet Peas, Sweet Pretzels, and Spruce Island Sugar Cookies. We also read St. Herman of Alaska by S.A. Smith.

The children made the sweet pretzels. Probably these are nothing like the treat St. Herman is said to have served the orphans. If you have a more authentic recipe - please let me know!

Here's the cookie recipe for "Spruce Island Cookies" from our Presvytera, who got it from "When You Fast..." by Catherine Mandell, SVS Press, which you can order here.

1 c. confectioner's sugar
1c. lenten margarine, softened
1 T white vinegar
2 1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cream together confectioner's sugar, margarine and vinegar. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, and salt into a separate bowl. Add to the margarine mixture and stir until blended. If the dough seems dry, add a little liquid (soy milk, water, etc.) to correct consistency.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes (like a tree!) Place cookies carefully onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle cookies liberally with green sugar or leave plan to frost after baking. Bake 6-8 minutes (I'd check at 5 minutes) or until lightly browned. Cool slightly on the pans, loosen cookies with a spatula, and let sit on the baking sheets one minute more. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 3-4 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie cutter!

Here's the frosting recipe, although she's never tried it!

2c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla or orange extract
2 T water or soy milk
green food coloring

Beat all ingredients together until a smooth and spreadable consistency results, adding food coloring as needed for desired tint. Frost cookies, leaving trunks plain. Can also sprinkle wet frosting with green sprinkles. Place on wire rack to allow the frosting to set.

Recipes from "When You Fast..." by Catherine Mandell, SVS Press, which you can order here.

St. Herman, pray for us.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Woman and the Wheat - I can't wait!

Ever since we read The Man and the Vine, I've been waiting for this book to come out. Order it here!

Anna has a lovely review of this new book by Jane G. Meyer here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Preparing for St. Nicholas Day

On Sunday we will have a St. Nicholas Day Creative Arts Festival.
This boat was Little Builder's entry last year. He wanted something he could hammer.

This year's theme comes from the troparion:

Because of your humble life heaven was open to you,
Because of your poverty spiritual riches were granted to you.

Little Builder has been enjoying his hand-me-down digital camera, and wanted to use it for his festival project. He took all the pictures except the one I took of him offering to share his train track.

If you were thinking that sharing a train track isn't all that special, you missed the screams and fights at our house between the kids over the train tracks.

Offering them up willingly is the type of other-centered, selfless giving that can only be spiritual riches.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Akathist of Thanksgiving

Our parish gathers to sing this lovely prayer service of Thanksgiving tonight.

This Akathist was found among the effects of Fr. Gregory Petrov after his death in a Soviet prison camp in 1940. It has often been attributed to Fr. Gregory, but it is now more commonly considered to be the work of Metropolitan TRYPHON (Prince Boris Petrovich Turkestanov) +1934.

Find the whole Akathist to print and pray here.

Also, the Antiochian Archdiocese Website has the Proclomation of Thanksgiving by George Washington and links to several articles on Thanksgiving, including Molly Sabourin's thoughts on Thanksgiving at Ancient Faith Radio.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Gift of The Good Samaritan

This morning's Gospel reading was the story of the Good Samaritan. Our priest shared a beautiful teaching of the church that I had not heard before.

Who is the Samaritan?
Who is the one beaten on the side of the road?

Christ is the Good Samaritan and we are the ones who were beaten by the world and by sin, left for dead. Christ picks us up, cleans our wounds, anoints us with the oil of His mercy and with wine. He brings us to the Inn - His Church - for the innkeeper to continue the work of our healing.

Sigh of relief. Smile of gratitude. Sounds so good to be taken care of so lovingly by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The challenge from Christ, after the story: Now, go and do likewise.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nativity Fasting Food Ideas

Reposted with some updates...

1. Veggie Fajitas

2. "Cheese" Enchiladas

3. Wet Burritos

4. Spinach Queso over Rice

5. Spinach, mushrooms, & rice-cheese quesadillas
Shrimp Fajitas

6. Black Bean, Frito, and Cilantro Cream Burritos - the Fritos really make this dish!

7. Fried/Grilled Fish Tacos

8. Use Soy-rizo (like Chorizo) in any recipe, replacing the meat

9. 7 Layer Dip for Office Parties (layers starting from bottom layer): refried beans, silken tofu blended with taco seasoning, quacamole, lettuce, tomatoe, olives, green onions. Serve with chips.

1. Stir Fry & Rice

2. Sweet & Sour Shrimp

3. Thai Tofu & Broccoli with Peanut Sauce over Rice

4. Shrimp Fried Rice

5. Veggie or Shrimp Lo-mein

6. Asparagus Stir-Fry

7. Eggplant with Garlic Sauce over Rice

8. Ginger steamed Fish with Veggies & Rice

1. Pasta & Marinara

2. Gnocci with soy-milk Bechamel blended with cooked zuccini (yes, it's green sauce)

3. Bowties, Broccoli, Carrots and Primavera "Cheese Sauce"

4. Bolognase using soy crumbles or crumbled Boca Burgers, or TVP

5. Shrimp Fra Diavlo

6. Eggplant "Parmesan"

7. Tomato, Peas, Rice-Mozerella Orzo (this Giada recipe is yummier as is for feast days, but also good substituting soy milk and rice mozzerella for a fast)

8. Butternut Squash or Mushroom Risotto

9. Veggie Lasagna

10. Seafood Lasagna

11. Near East "Pine Nut" flavored Cous Cous with Garlic-Basil Veggies on the side.

1. Shrimp Jambalya

2. Jambalaya Pasta (with carrots & white beans instead of meat)

3. Gumboz-n-Herbs (Gumbo made with lots of different kinds of greens)

4. Shrimp Etoufee'

5. Crawfish Etoufee'(this Emeril recipe is good; we use oil instead of butter)

6. Fried Catfish

7. White Bean & Carrot Etoufee' (or choose whatever veggie/bean your family likes)

8. Corn, Crab, & Tomatoe Stew

9. Okra Shrimp Gumbo

10. Cabbage, Green Bean, & Potato Gumbo

1. White Bean (carrot, onion, celery, tomato)

2. Greek Lentil Soup

3. Black Bean (garlic, onion, cumin, chili powder)

4. Winter Squash Bisque

5. Clam Chowder (I've used non-dairy powdered creamer mixed with water as the "cream"... I know, sort of pathetic)

6. Corn Chowder

7. Broccoli "Cheese" Soup

8. Split Pea Soup (use liquid smoke to add ham flavor)

9. Indian Curry (sweet peas, onion, potatoes)

10. Cauliflower Chamomile Soup (from the inside of a Celestial Seasonings box)

11. Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger

1. Eggplant Casserole (shrimp, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, canned tomatoes, bread crumbs, mushrooms)

2. Smothered Beans-n-Greens w/ Corn Bread and Sliced Tomatoes

3. Veggie or Tofu Pot Pie (if I did this, I'd probably use a pre-made crust on a week-night)

4. Veggie Pizza (we like rice-mozzerella on top)

5. Greek Smothered Peas, Mushrooms & Garlic Tomato Sauce over Rice

6. Crab Salad (corn, cooked rice, green onion, mayo, salt, pepper & sugar)

7. Tuna Salad

8. Salmon/Mashed Potato Patties

9. M'Jeddrah (Lentils & Rice with Caramalized Onions)

10. Squash, Bean, & Tomato Ragout over Polenta

11. Hatian Beans & Rice

12. Beet & Potato Salad (Russian Style)

13. Eggplant "Caviar" (which varies greatly, from basic to cilantro-flvored with pine nuts)

14. Greek Potato Salad (olive oil, parsley, green onion, salt, pepper)

15. Grilled Fish

16. Magic Loaf (leftovers are good for lunch sandwiches)

17. Any Bean/Grain Combo, like Crock Pot Grains

18. Black-Eyed Peas Patties with Remoulade

19. Tofu Spanikopita

20. Veggie Loaf

21. Haitian Beans & Rice

I have printed these ideas in a Monday through Saturday Table-Format and keep them on my fridge.

If you like, whenever you post a new idea or recipe on your blog, let me know and I'll add a link on this page back to your site.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nice Ideas for Christian Education

If you haven't visited Elenie's share-site for Orthodox Christian lessons plans, you should. She has shared curriculum plans for children, preteens, and teenagers. Coloring books are available too. And of course, Elenie's blog includes ideas too, like this cool "stain glass" project.

On Sylvia's Orthodox Mom blog, you can find a link to an Orthodox Kids Corner, with coloring pages and games.

If you've visited the Greek Archdiocese children site Saints Alive, but it's been a while, you might try dropping back by. They've added several games, in addition to the puzzles originally available.

Finally, if you're looking for a service project to do with your children or your Sunday School class, the St. Innocent Orphanage and Project Mexico have a nice video about their work. Little Builder loved watching how thousands of Orthodox volunteers help build houses in Mexico. They also offer a Church School Curriculum on the volunteer page. This is how they describe it:

Church School Curriculum

"Answering Christ's Call to Love Your Neighbor"

If you are looking for a fun, hands-on way to teach young people about the importance of doing acts of charity, Project Mexico has developed a three-lesson Church School Curriculum that is available at no cost. The three lessons give students an opportunity to:

* Examine what it means to be poor
* Hear what Christ instructed us to do for those in need
* Learn about Project Mexico's ministry to the poor and orphaned of Mexico.

The Curriculum binder contains lesson plans and special aids for the teacher, tips on preparation and publicity, and handouts to be copied for the students. Also included in the binder are two supplementary lessons: "The Life of St. Innocent" and "Christmas in Mexico." Use all of the lessons or tailor the curriculum to your parish's specific needs. The length and focus of the curriculum make it a great option for Vacation Bible School or a Lenten project.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Preparing for St. Peter the Aleut

On Friday we finished up our review & Lesson Book Entry for St. Peter the Aleut.

Realizing that he is commemorated this coming Thursday, September 24, we thought about ways we could celebrate. Perhaps purchase an Alaskan-shaped or themed cookie cutter? It would come in handy for several North American Saints.

Or maybe we could find out what types of foods Aleuts traditionally ate, and serve these for supper Thursday night? We do something similar to this for St. Herman's Feast Day.

According to Wikipedia:

Fishing, hunting and gathering were the only way aleuts could find food. Salmon, seal, walrus, crabs, shellfish, cod were all caught and dried, smoked or roasted. Caribou, musk oxen, deer, moose, whale and other types of game were eaten roasted or preserved. Berries were often whipped into alutiqqutigaq, which was a mixture of berries, fat and fish, or dried.

Don't think I'll try that berry dish, but we do have some deer in the freezer (my father is a veteran hunter). (Update: we had whale-shaped cheese crackers and dried berries for a snack)

Do you have a way to commemorate this teenage martyr?

I especially like this icon, with his words to his captors included.

Troparion - Tone 4

Today Alaska rejoices and America celebrates
for the New World has been sanctified by martyrdom.
Kodiak echoes with songs of thanksgiving,
Iliámna and Kenái observe the Festival of Faith.
The apostle and martyr Juvenaly is glorified
and Peter the Aleut is exalted by his voluntary sacrifice.
In their devotion and love for the Lord
they willingly endured persecution and death for the Truth.
Now in the Kingdom of Heaven they intercede for our souls.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gifts from God: Local Treasures

A unique recipe from a local cookbook for "Breakfast Chocolate Gravy", which made for a fun Saturday morning breakfast with homemade bread.

The back right corner of the local health food store, with the faithful shelf holding the red-marked discount items. Total price? $5.

The local feed-and-seed store, which is one of my favorite places to go. Little Builder enjoyed taking along his hand-me-down camera, catching buckets of 6 types of nails (among other things) for digital immortality.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Naked Ladies

Once when I was 11 years old, my mother was driving us home from school one august afternoon and said,

Oh my, look at all those naked ladies in that yard!

Zoop. My sister and I turned our heads quickly to the right. Only a yard. With flowers.

Mamma explained that they are called naked ladies because they have no leaves clothing their stems.

These days, I hear people call them spider lilies.

Our first lady opened today.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gifts from God: Looking Back at the Summer

Thank you, Most generous God, for these gifts and many more:

cars packed with survival supplies for trips with grandparents to new places

shoes left as evidence of many cousins enjoying a family reunion

husband's graduating class receiving the proof of many years of hard work

and now, summer break is over.....

... better put my nose back to the grindstone

Here's wishing you a blessed new school & church year.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gifts from God: Lovely Dormition Surprises

The Dormition is such a tender and encouraging Feast.

Friday night after Vespers, I was sweetly surprised to hear the Lamentation melody from Holy Week. Those tones touch some place deep inside of us, don't they? Eleni mentions more about this. We didn't have a special procession or tapestry, but the tones alone were touching.

How is it that I've been Orthodox for 5 years, but this is the first year this Fast/Feast has touched me - or the first time I recall even paying attention to it?

Perhaps because of Katherine's lesson plans.

Maybe because of those incredible Paraklesis prayers, which Sylvia was so kind to post.

Maybe because of our priest's clear explanation of how Mary is the first example and a foretaste of the blessings of all Christians. Last night he encouraged us that the image of Mary's soul in Christ's arms is a picture of our soul when we die in the Lord.

This morning he made the connection of the Gospel reading to the Dormition: great blessings await one who listens to God and then says "yes" to do what He asks. These two Marys are our model to follow.

In giving birth, O Theotokos, thou didst preserve thy virginity;

And in falling asleep, thou didst not forsake the world.

Thou who didst give birth to Life, wast translated to life;

And by thy prayers, deliver our souls from death.

-Troparion, Dormition of the Most-Holy Theotokos

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to Turn a Beloved Book into a Literature Lesson: The Life of St. Brigid: Abbess of Kildare

Happy Feast of St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland! (January 1)

St. Brigid has been with me through many difficult moments with my children. When I was having trouble with my milk coming in to nurse my daughter, I prayed that she would bless my "pantry" so my milk would overflow. And she did!

We love St. Brigid and hope you get to know and love her too. And if you homeschool, you can use her book as a part of your curriculum.

Below is a link to a chart with examples of literary devices from The Life of St. Brigid: Abbess of Kildare.

With elementary children, work on only one device at a time.

For example, one week, read this sonorous book aloud together. Afterward, turn back to a page with alliteration, re-read the sentence aloud, and explain to your child the concept of alliteration, which is the repetition of the beginning sounds of words. See if your child can find another example as you read the rest of the page.

Through out the week, practice noticing alliteration (a favorite technique in most children’s books) in the various stories you read. Play games like “A my Name is Alice, and I like apples” (B my name is Betty and I like bongos and so forth) or “I’m going on a picnic” (and bringing awesome apples, bright yellow bananas, crunchy crackers, etc.) This is one of the children's favorite pastimes for the hour-long drive to the Grandparents' house.

You could have your child write a summary of her own saint’s life, using alliteration in one sentence. Or write a poem practicing alliteration in each line.

Don't go overboard! Especially with an elementary age child, use your judgement to know when your child has had enough, because we want this learning to be like a game. The main goal of reading stories in this age group should be to feast on the ideas of the stories, meet new friends (like Saint Brigid!) and to learn to love books.

I have played with a few of these ideas with my 5 year old, but I also remember writing papers in the 12th grade for AP English in which we identified and analyzed an author’s use of these very devices. Consequently, the material can be modified for middle and high school students as well.

Final note: the Literary Devices Chart includes hyperlinks to a variety of sights, so you can decide which one is right for your age group and personal preference. The St. Brigid Chart of Examples is not an exhaustive list of literary devices but is a list of some techniques Jane G. Meyer uses in creating her lyrical story.

Link to St. Brigid Chart of Examples

Link to a Literary Devices Chart Template you can use to find more examples in this book or in other books.

And really, you can take this idea and apply it to any good story. You will probably do it even better than I did because you know your own child best.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Amazing Story, Enjoyable Story-Telling

“Oh, my.”

Pages turn.

“I didn’t know that.”

Story sings and words play in Celtic frames.

“Wow! No way.” I turn to my husband, “Babe, listen to this!”

So progresses my journey through the pages of The Life of St. Brigid: Abbess of Kildare. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out the details. The first time I read the book was to myself, silently, sitting on the couch one evening after the kids went to bed. Just the facts of the life of this amazing Irish saint are enough to make this book valuable, but I don’t recommend reading it silently or alone.

The next day, when the kids – 2 years and 6 years old – joined me on the couch and we read aloud, then the joy of Jane G. Meyer’s writing could be heard and savored. Meyer likes to play with her words, reminding me of the way my daughter likes to play with a shelf of shoes. Anyone can line the shoes up in pairs. My daughter likes to take the shoes off, rearrange them, try different combinations, get rid of some, and bring in new ones from other rooms. Jane G. Meyer does the same things with words, rearranging, ordering, changing them until the effect is more of a hybrid between prose and poetry, much like another beloved lyrical book in our home: Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall.

I teach English, and The Life of St. Brigid is so full of examples of rhetorical technique that by nature I had to start creating a lesson plan that used this text to identify certain literary devices like alliteration, repetition, assonance, and more. If you are teaching older reader-writers, you might like to use this chart (coming soon) to supplement your studies. If you are using Mary's British Isles Curriculum next year, this story of God’s faithful servant from Ireland might fit in nicely.

My only complaint in reading this book is that the creative font is hard to read if you have a headache, and not great for beginning readers. Despite these minor things, the Holy and Amazing St. Brigid is worth reading about, just for God’s story in her life.

Don’t limit yourself to an English lesson, either!

Open your heart to St. Brigid’s inspiring faith in God’s provision. (This has been an encouraging book to read as my husband continues his job search in a strained economy.)

Open your eyes to the intense colors and carefully painted Celtic designs by illustrator Zachary Lynch.

Open your lips and sing to your pantry or invite St. Brigid into your prayer life.

This book contains the amazing story of a girl who knew no boundaries in her faith of God, it is an enjoyable read-a-loud, and it can be a handy resource for extra rhetoric practice. I pray that St. Brigid’s love and generosity might grow in my family, overflowing like her blessed pantry.

PS1 - For another perspective of this book, see Emma's thoughts.

PS2 - Now I understand why Sophia's family named their farm St. Brigid's Farm - she was a shepherdess in Ireland and is a protector of flocks and herds.

PS3 - Visit Author Jane G. Meyer's website here.

PS4 - I love that this book includes a kontakion to St. Brigid.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In preparation for the Dormition Fast

Well, I'll let you read other blogs like this series for spiritual preparation.

All I'm offering is kitchen help. Watch this video for a tutorial on how to make crab(cooked), cucumber & avocado sushi rolls. Yum!

Here's how to make the "sushi rice"

I must say that I am looking forward to starting The Most Holy Theotokos Study on Evlogia Katherine has created.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gifts from God: Other Mothers Part 2

From my own mother's garden transplanted to mine - lantana, so easy to keep alive!

MammaJuliana often reminds me to hit the thrift stores. When I realized recently that Little Builder's swimsuit was left at the Grandparents' house, we headed to Goodwill for a $2 replacement.

Alana at Morning Coffee includes the Farmers Market in her weekly routine. We are so blessed to have our little market here in our little city.

Once again, thanking God for the blessings of other mothers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gifts from God: in the Kitchen

I have met a new friend, this parchment paper. She barely lifts a finger, effortlessly releasing these artisan loaves.

No more scraping bottoms of loaves from the pan.

No more piling up a 1/4 inch layer of corn meal (or regular flour for prosphora) under my loaf in order to prevent the finished loaf from sticking to the pan.

No more unintended flat bread from the dough sliding and spreading out on a greased pan.

Just brown loaves of goodness, sliding off the pan onto the baking rack.

Gift from God #638: Parchment Paper

If anyone knows a reason why one couldn't use parchment paper under prosphora, let me know! I can't wait to use it when it's my next turn to make it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Birthdays and Namedays

Sylvia was pondering how to go about celebrating these two special days, and we didn't have to choose yesterday. Little Builder had a birthday and our Toddler had her Name Day - St. Elizabeth the new Martyr - so we had one big celebration with two cakes.

Little Builder wanted to have the party at his beloved Sunday School teacher's house, so we grilled burgers, hit balls off his new tee, played in the slip-and-slide, and enjoyed each other's company. Our church friends are so gracious to help us make these days special.

Here's the semi-truck cake a little closer.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grains Swap

Michelle mentioned that Ma Torg is hosting a Vegan Recipe Swap, and this week’s theme is Grains.

If you love your crockpot, try this on Wednesday:

Crockpot Grains


* 1/4 cup millet - uncooked
* 1/4 barley - uncooked
* 1/3 cup brown rice - uncooked
* 1 cup onion - chopped
* 1 cup green pepper - chopped
* 1/2 cup carrots - finely chopped
* 1 16 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
* 1 16 oz can tomatoes - drained - reserve liquid
* 1 1/2 cups corn
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Add water to reserved tomato liquid to equal 2 1/2 cups. Stir into grain mixture. Cover and cook on low setting 8 hours. Stir before serving.

This recipe was contributed by Marie from the Radiant Recovery Community Forum.

From Lean and Luscious and Meatless, by Hindman and Snyder

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oh, Soybean

You not only offer scrambled-egg substitute and Moo-less Mocha Pie.

You also are not bad in the shell, steamed and ready to be popped open by adventurous fingers.

And after supper is over, you sneak over into the category of craft supplies, marking states on vinyl placemat.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gifts from God: Other Mothers, Part I

Since school has dismissed and I have more time at home, I have been using your ideas all week long.

Thank you to my mother, my sister, and my dear friend Maria, for demonstrating for me how simple it is to treasure my children's artwork and use it to warm our home.

Thank you, Emma, for felt ideas.

Thank you, Katherine, for detailed directions and suggestions on studying our Faith using Lesson Books. We did our first entry yesterday for Pentecost.

Thank you Elizabeth, for helping me figure out how to help Little Builder over that hump of doing the copywork! (I asked him - draw first, then write)

Thank you, She Who Must Be Obeyed, for the lovely moments of music at snack time.

Thank you, Sylvia, for reminding me that I'm supposed to be kissing that icon on the way out the door.

Thank you, Meadowlark Days, for rhubarb bread.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grasshopper Cake

1 white cake mix
2 eggs
2 small or 1 large carton of cool-whip
2 jars of hot fudge
bottle of Creme de Menthe liquor (you'll use 8-12 TBS)
cherries for decorating

1. Mix cake as directed, but add 4 TBS of creme de Menthe to replace some water

2. Bake as directed. Cool.

3. Cover cake with room-temp hot fudge sauce.

4. Fold 4 TBS of Creme de Menthe liquor into the cool-whip. Taste for flavor and color and add more if you want. Spread on top of fudge layer.

5. Decorate with cherries. Marciano, canned, fresh would all be fine.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Growing Gifts from God

Grape update:

itty bitty grapes...

...growing bigger

Swiss Chard

Me (with grasshopper cake)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A solitary grape vine planted by my grandfather sits just east of the house. Every year I hope the vine might not fall to little devouring bugs.

At the first sight of the holes in the leaves, fingers search and find itty bitty black worm-shaped diners infecting my vine. For some reason, I wait and don't come back to kill them for a couple of days. The damage spreads. I decide to tackle the job and turn each leaf over, smushing the enemies dead one by one.

I am glad to see the fruit growing.

But sad that the leaves were still damaged.

It makes me think of residual soul damage leftover from sin infections I allow to grow. Noticing the eaten leaves, sometimes I still wait before smushing it out. Often, despite small bits of visible fruit, there is still damage left behind from worldly things I allowed.

Praise be to God, who gives us an image of hope for sickly leaves in the Gospel of John: 1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Footnotes: The Greek for prunes also means cleans.

Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gifts from God

*coming home from work to an unexpected clean kitchen

*cooking dinner with both kids as sous chefs, breaking apart broccoli and bread-crumbing salmon patties.

*uncultivated surprises in the woods

*finding some hay for mulching the veggie bed

*Little Builder receiving a hand-me-down digital camera

*He and Papa getting creative

*blessings from the Church: services to remember our loved ones and Koliva to remind us that we must fall to the ground like a grain of wheat and die, in order to be raised to a new life.