Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Storm #2 Pictures

These pictures are kind of a time-lapse view of the storm's passing. The wall cloud wasn't as pretty as some I've seen, but still... This storm dropped a funnel about ten minutes after these pictures were taken. The kids and Grandma and the dog were in the bathroom while I was outside on the street taking pictures. I figured I was fine until the wind changed directions from outflow to inflow. It never did.

Storm #1 Pictures

As the first storm passed we had a very bright rainbow.

You could see the whole span. A secondary rainbow was
visible but it didn't show up well on the picture.

The back side of the storm.

I think this was the anvil of the next storm, heading over.

Isn't this great? I need my brother William to identify this for me.
I'm thinking cumulus pileus. 

Closeup shot.

Another shot of the entire back side.

Didn't it create some fantastic clouds?

Wall clouds and thunder and rain, oh my!

I have the coolest pictures of a wall cloud that passed just behind the house over the lake. I'm really hoping to get the pictures up tonight. As it was passing us it started some definite rotation and looked like a good updraft was forming. I heard on the TV a little later that five or ten minutes after that particular storm passed it had a confirmed funnel spotted. Drat! Missed the funnel!

Sounds like there's been some significant damage out there so I hope everyone is staying safe.

The Eye

Right now the winds are gusting to 29 mph. The TV is on the local station for weather. 
For once, I don't need the velocity map to see the rotation, you can see an eye. Look at the storm below Athens. See the little blob of green below the red? That's the center of rotation. Cool! Such a shame it's all going north of us. 

NOTE: I got some awesome pictures as it passed (to the south of us unfortunately) and I may be able to post them later today. Yes!

NOTE #2: Please, everyone be careful today since there seems to be unsettled weather over a pretty large area of the east and south.


All of the readers of this blog who are in the AOCANA*, you are in my prayers.

Lord have mercy.

*If this means nothing to you, don't worry about it and count yourself blessed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wacko Walmart

This has nothing to do with the trip. Well, that's not entirely true, but, well anyway...

I had to run to Walmart this morning for a few forgotten items (like always, sigh) and while I was there I ran through the girls' clothing section just in case. I have a hard time finding nice, modest dresses and skirts for the girls (like a lot of you out there I bet) but rarely you do see something so I tend to keep an eye out.

I wasn't expecting to find anything since I'd recently been through the Walmart at home and totally struck out. The buyers seem to be running a house of ill repute on the side since their clothing all leans in that direction. But I digress.

So, there I was, in the girls' section, and I found a rack of nice dresses. Not Christmas dresses (those are usually in good supply, but I find it a little difficult to send my girls out to play or to sit down and do schoolwork in red and green taffeta dresses...), but nice, normal dresses. Two were fine-wale corduroy and two were denim and they were just nice. And as I stood there, I got more and more angry. The place where we live is populated by fairly poor people and a lot of minorities (a majority of minorities - cracks me up), and this Walmart is in a high-end white area. I was struck by the obvious: the assumption is that if you are poor and not white you will buy trashy clothes. It's angering and insulting and frustrating.

Just to make this tale more darkly humorous, I looked online at the suggestion of my MIL and found the very dresses. They were marked "not available in stores" and were $6 marked down from $7. I had just paid $14.50. My MIL said she had to go later and would ask about a price-adjustment. She did, and was told that while Walmart will match Target or Kmart prices, they will not match their own. Huh??

So we're going to return the dress, order them online and have them shipped to the local store free and get them that way. For half the price.

Crazy. On so many levels.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Blog

Thank you so much for your prayers for my sister's friend and her husband on the loss of their four year old daughter Makiah. Rachel started a blog yesterday to help her start working through her grief. I encourage you to leave her a note to let her know if you've been praying for them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Links to Women Saints' Lives

Wow! Thanks to Maria for posting the link to this list in chronological order of women saints! Each name is a link to a page with the saint's life and troparion and kontakion. This list is on the Antiochian Archdiocese's page. (The OCA maintains a page with links to saints' lives as well (it's divided into categories).)

For tomorrow, October 24th:

On October 24, the Church commemorates the Icon of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow. A woman named Euphymia (sister of Patriarch Joachim) received healing from sickness after obeying a voice telling her to find this icon and have the priest celebrate a Molieben with a blessing of the waters. This miracle occurred on October 24, 1688.

On July 23, the Church commemorates the Icon of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow of St. Petersburg, Russia. This icon was glorified in 1888 when the chapel where it was located was struck by lightning. Miraculously, the icon survived despite all else being burned, and twelve coins from the poor box became attached to the icon.

The design of this icon depicts the Theotokos, a most beautiful blossom of heaven, standing among the flowers of paradise. Her Son is visible above her in the clouds, the King of heaven and earth. Along both sides of the icon, framing the Mother of God, are suppliants asking for her intercession. She stands with her arms spread open and her head tilted as if listening. The tenderness and kindness of a loving mother are evident in her face. She stands in paradise and yet among us.

Blanket available!

I don't think I ever actually mentioned it, but I have a Columba Blanket available. The one I made originally wasn't for anyone in particular so it's sitting here waiting for a baby! Incidentally, there's a Columba Bonnet to go with it as well. Email me if you are interested.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Some Good Thoughts

On Doubt and Disbelief

The Holy Fathers consider disbelief a passion just like adultery, vanity, pride, etc. Here the enemy is at work more than the person himself. One must battle with disbelief in the same way as with other passions; not by reasoning and mental debate, but by banishing such thoughts by sheer force of will, saying, “I do not consent to these thoughts!” Also, by prayer, especially the Jesus Prayer, which should be as uninterrupted as possible, along with the plea from one’s whole heart for mercy. By the holy name of Jesus, before Whom all the creatures of heaven and earth and lower regions bow down, the enemy’s activity will be weakened, and peace, hope, faith and compunction will enter one’s heart and the temptation will pass.

Brothers through Courtesy
"But pray unceasingly also for the rest of men, for they offer ground for hoping that they may be converted and win their way to God. Give them an opportunity therefore, at least by your conduct, of becoming your disciples. Meet their angry outbursts with your own gentleness, their boastfulness with your humility, their reviling with your prayers, their error with your constancy in the faith, their harshness with your meekness; and beware of trying to match their example.

Let us prove ourselves their brothers through courtesy. Let us strive to follow the Lord's example and see who can suffer greater wrong, who more deprivation, who more contempt. Thus no weed of the devil will be found among you; but you will persevere in perfect charity and sobriety through Jesus Christ, in body and soul." 
-St. Ignatius of Antioch

(h/t Fr. Alexander Fecanin, daily e-mails)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Latest on Mariana

Here is a recent picture of Mariana. Isn't she a darling little elf?

Mariana has been doing well (relatively speaking) post transplant but is facing a little setback. Her central line was found to be growing out bacteria and so her anticipated discharge date has been extended. Her picture was taken after she pulled out her NG tube - a shame, since her mommy had to put it back in (twice) but you get to see her sweet face!

Please pray for her continued progress and healing from infection. Her family is anxious to be reunited!

Hijackers and Hostages

The title looks ominous, but I hasten to assure you that all seven of us are well and accounted for. Good. Moving on.

Hijackers and hostages are not merely the property of the Middle East. And they do not necessarily come in human form. Haven't you ever been hijacked by a thought? Multiple thoughts? If you think the answer is no, think back to the last time you said prayers. Mm hmm, that's what I thought.

Last night I was hijacked by multiple thoughts, occurring on multiple occasions. The result is my late rising this morning. I was reading the OT reading and suddenly wondered if I had enough medication to last me through the entire trip [We're heading to PA next week.]. I told myself I would check when I was done. Fast forward several minutes to the parable of the wedding feast. I felt fairly sure I didn't have enough and probably needed to order some in the morning. Fast forward another few minutes to Paul's arrest in Jerusalem and you'll find me thinking that if I order in the morning it might not get here before we leave. The end result was that I got up, turned the computer back on and ordered it, and didn't concentrate very much on the readings.

I was wound up ("If I almost forgot that, what else important might I be forgetting???") so I read for a while, a biography of Katherine Porter which turned out not to be good bedtime reading (a very dissolute life). When I made the executive decision to turn the lamp out I lay there for a while, playing anagrams in my head to fall asleep. Hey, to each his own.

I woke up about 5:30 to almost continuous lighting. Staggering out of bed I went to unplug the computer, but before I did that I checked the radar. [Rule: never look at bright lights if you're intending to go right back to bed.] After I went back to bed (strangely awake) I started compulsively counting the seconds between flash and thunder. ("Is it moving away? Getting closer? Is that from the first wave or second wave?") I fell asleep eventually but didn't get up at 6:30 as planned. It was 8:00. So much for getting up early.

This is where the hostage comes in. I had allowed myself to be repeatedly hijacked all night and I could have let the hijackers hold me hostage for the rest of the day. After all, I got up late, the day is gone, there's no point in trying, I'll never catch up...etc. This is where force of will enters with banners flying (I'm not sure how this works metaphorically but it's a good image.). I said "boo!" to the hijackers, got up, washed up, got dressed and started homeschool. I put on my "energetic face" and pretended that I was right on track. Hey, I might just get on track at some point here!

So don't let your hijackers hold you hostage. Fight back! They only win if you let them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Comfort Food: Wontons, Egg Rolls and Wonton Soup

Well, I'm pretty sure that this isn't most people's idea of comfort food, but I'm including it anyway. I didn't grow up eating this (I don't think we ever had Chinese) but Father did. This recipe is his mother's and I don't know where she got it. She's been making it since he was a child. Our kids love it. I guess one thing I want to get across is that this is easy. I mean it.

Wonton filling*

1 can chunk light chicken
1-2 cans ham
3-4 green onion stems, sliced thinly
soy sauce - enough to dampen meat mixture and turn it light brown (How's that for imprecise? I think this is about 1/2 - 2/3 cup but I'm not exactly sure. You add it until it "looks right".)

**I use this for egg rolls too but most people will prefer having a greater variety in their filling - like adding egg, for instance. (c; Feel free to use whatever filling recipe you want.

Dump the chicken, ham, green onion and soy sauce into a large bowl. Mash with a fork until the chunks are broken up and the ingredients are mixed together. Add more soy sauce if necessary (see above).

(This is not dark enough although some of that is the flash's fault.
 I added more soy sauce.)
Directions for constructing egg rolls:

Put the egg roll wrapper in front of you turned like a diamond.
Brush water onto the wrapper from 9 o'clock around the top to 3 o'clock.

Place some filling in the center, shaping it like a sausage.

Fold the bottom corner over the filling. Don't bother to tuck the end in under the filling.

Then fold the sides in toward the center.

Then roll the egg roll up toward the top corner, wrapping the tip around the roll.

That's it!

Making a wonton is pretty similar:

Start with the wonton wrapper in front of you and brush water on all four edges.

Put a small amount of filling in the center, less than you would think you need.

Fold one lower corner up to the top opposite corner. Press the edges together firmly.

Then, picking it up and holding it point down, fold the two corners up toward each other:

Overlap the top corners and press together firmly.
[This is hard to do one-handed for picture-taking purposes!]

And there you have it! 

Fry the egg rolls and wontons in hot oil, just like you would fry anything. (No, I don't have temperature recommendations.) Turn them once and let them drain on paper towels. 

That pale thing next to it is a strip of wrapper used to test
the oil temperature. Obviously is hadn't been hot enough.

Now you can follow these construction steps and put just about anything in the wrappers. You can do deserts this way! Just make sure that whatever you put in is already cooked or ok to eat raw.

And really quickly, wonton soup:

This is the most elementary recipe ever. Combine chicken broth (two containers), a few spoonfuls of wonton filling and about a Tbsp of soy sauce. Heat on the stove until just about boiling. Drop in a few (however many you want) uncooked wontons and let them cook for a few minutes. They'll look like the consistency of cooked noodles. Scatter some thinly sliced green onion over it in the bowls for garnish (don't cook the green onion).

Teaching Math

This is what it's like teaching math sometimes...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Comfort Food: Bread Pudding

Boy, this is the time of year for comfort food! I've been wanting to make bread pudding for a week. I got a loaf of day-old English muffin bread at the store on Saturday for this purpose. I laid the slices out earlier today and let them dry, turning them over once. I suppose you could dry them in the oven, but this was so much easier and it works just as well.

I use the recipe straight out of my packing-tape-held-together Betty Crocker Cookbook:

(I tripled this)
four bread slices, dried and cut into cubes
four eggs, beaten
2 c. milk
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. vanilla
1/3 c. sugar
(optional: raisins, currants, etc. - you would sprinkle these on top of the bread cubes and pour the custard over all.)

Mix the milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla with a mixer in a large bowl (REALLY large if you tripled it like I did...). Place all of the bread cubes in a baking dish (I used a 9 x 13 for my recipe and had a little custard left over) and pour the custard mixture over them. Using a spoon (or whatever) pat the bread cubes down gently into the custard so that they're all saturated. It will only rise a little bit so don't worry if it gets fairly close to the top of the dish. Bake for about 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. It's done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. You may need closer to 60 minutes.

(Notice Father took a bit out of the top left corner...)

While you can eat this cold (and if you're eating leftovers...if there are any...it will be) I like it best warm with a glass of milk on the side.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Faith and Obedience

"[Lord] I believe; help my unbelief!" Mk 9:24

What struck me when I watched this was one thing: obedience.
The doctor was obedient to God's command even when it made no rational sense.
Even when it was inconvenient and even when it would cause embarrassment.
Even when he had no faith that anything would happen.

"For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Mt 17:20

(h/t Aunt Susan)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How NOT to take astronomical pictures...

...like, by holding the camera up to the binocular eyepiece...

That blue thing in the first picture is a reflection, not anything neat. Obviously the first two are of the moon - they were the best of about twenty shots. The third one is Jupiter - not in focus at all, but not bad for not having a tripod!

Orthodox Blog Awards

No, I'm not mentioning this because I've been nominated for the Supreme-Exalted-Orthodox-Blog-of-the-Year Award (unless someone wants to create it and award it to me (c; ), but because there are a lot of you out there who probably aren't familiar with the annual Orthodox blog awards. Because of that, there are some awesome blogs that probably aren't getting nominated.

Nominations have opened up for this year. If you have a nomination or would like to see winners from prior years, head to Eastern Christian New Media Awards and check it out. The categories are as follows:

Best Church News Blog
Best Domestic Church Blog
Funniest Blog
Best Individual Blog
Best Group Blog
Best Theology Blog
Most Visually Attractive Blog
Best Podcast or Internet Radio Show
Best Forum
and new this year:
Best Church Website
Best Jurisdictional Website

As you can see, one fantastic reason for popping over to ECNMA is to get some great recommendations for Orthodox sites to visit!


Le Chat Formidable

Ok, this is one. awesome. cat.

Anyone owned by a cat like this?
Une expression vraiment formidable!

[Chat Noir by Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Always look at your feet before you leave the house.

Has anyone left the house not properly dressed? I know we all have had the nightmares about finding ourselves at school/work/church/etc. without anything on, but this usually doesn't happen.

The other day I left the house to run to the store and on the way out the door called my sister. Well, I talked to her all the way to the store and for several minutes in the parking lot (we're not far). Preparatory to getting out of the car I shifted my legs and suddenly realized I had never changed shoes: I was wearing blue flip-flops. Considering I was wearing a nice top and a long black skirt, the shoes were particularly inappropriate. However, since I was already at the store and because the store in question was Walmart, I went in anyway, figuring I'd just blend in. No one even looked at me twice. Half of them were in flip-flops themselves.

A worse story dates from my college days. I was attending a local little Episcopal church and was singing in the choir. I woke up late and realized I had about 15 minutes to be processing down the aisle. I threw on clothes and shoes and clattered down the stairs to my car. Luckily, the church was only a few miles away and there weren't any cops visible. I quickly parked, got out and started walking rapidly to the choir room to get a robe. Almost immediately I noticed I was very off-balance and looked down. I was wearing one black heel and one black flat! There was NO time to go home and fix it so I just hobbled to the choir room and selected the longest robe I could find that wouldn't trip me up. I went through the processional and the entire service, all the way to the recessional with one heel and one flat. I just walked on one heel and one tip-toe and trusted the robe to hide me. I got away with it and no one figured it out. Saved by the robe!

Anyone else have a funny store about being partially or improperly dressed?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Will the real Orthodox Church please stand up?

This is not a "harping" post and I'm not seeking to get into an argument with anyone. After reading this post by Ad Orientem I decided to post some helpful information for those who are looking for an Orthodox church.

Sometimes, people's only contact with Orthodoxy has been on the web. When they are interested enough to look for a church they might just look in the phone book or google the closest Orthodox church. Or you might do this if you are out of town and looking for a church. Now this will probably lead you right to an Orthodox church, whether it be Greek, OCA, Antiochian, ROCOR, whatever. On the other hand, if you don't know enough about Orthodox churches to be wary, you might just land in a church like the "English Nordic Orthodox Church of North America" or the "Autonomous True Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe and the Americas, Milan Synod". These names are odd enough that you might think twice, but what if it's called "St. Nicholas Orthodox Church"? How do you know if this is actually an Orthodox church? Because the people there will hasten to assure you that it is.

A site called Religious Groups That Use 'Orthodox' in Their Names But Are Not Canonical Eastern Orthodox Churches (link no longer working) helps identify known non-Orthodox churches. It is not merely a list, but includes quite a bit of information. These churches range from the crazy (trust me) to the merely misguided.

This page provided by the OCA contains links to the canonical Orthodox Churches world-wide. If you can't find the "church" listed on this page, then you are probably dealing with a non-Orthodox church.
I have to say that in the list of warning signs that you might be dealing with a non-canonical Orthodox church (or a non-Orthodox church) on Ad Orientem, this one is my favorite:
2. If any of the following words appear in the church's name (as opposed to the parish name) you may have a problem... True, Authentic, Real, Holy, Synod, Metropolia, Resistance, Exile, Underground, Old Calendar, Reformed, Liberal or Conservative, Canonical. If you run into the "Really True Old Calendar First Holy Orthodox Church of Dump Truck County Alabama in Exile" don't walk away. RUN!
Again, this is not meant to start arguments, just provide helpful information in case someone needs it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"She lived between two icons."

The eulogy for Mary Evelyn may be found here. It's quite remarkable.

Listen, when you have time.

Even if you didn't know her.

The two icons in question are the Sitka icon of the Mother of God
and the Kursk Root icon of the Mother of God.