Tuesday, November 30, 2010


You can't make this stuff up*:

Report: Co-pilot moved seat,
sent jetliner plummeting

(CNN) The co-pilot of an Air India Express 737 sent the jetliner into a terrifying 7,000-foot plunge in May when he accidentally hit the control column while adjusting his seat, investigators report.
According to the report from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the co-pilot panicked and was unable to execute the proper procedures as the jetliner dropped from 37,000 feet at a 26-degree angle. The plane and its 113 passengers were saved when the pilot, who’d gone on a bathroom break, used an emergency code to get into the locked cockpit, jumped back into his seat and grabbed the controls to bring the plummeting plane out of its dive.

The aircraft would have broken apart if the descent had continued, the aviation agency report said. The aircraft was not damaged and no one was injured, the report said.

After the pilot, 39, regained control of the plane, he told passengers, who were in the middle of a meal when the jet plunged, that the plane had “went through an air pocket and that is why there was a rapid descent,” according to the report.

The aviation agency report concluded that the 25-year-old co-pilot had not been trained in the specific scenario the jet encountered and “probably had no clue to tackle this kind of emergency.” (emphasis mine)
*Well, maybe you can...

Winter Wonderland

A cold front came through last night, violently at times. I woke up in the wee sma's to hear wind lashing the rain against the windows. Sometime after that I became aware that the power was out. It was still out when we got up and Father was missing his coffee. We checked the yard but only lost one big limb and it didn't hit anything. It was so mild yesterday that we didn't have any heat on at all and none last night. Thus, after the power came back on the heat didn't automatically kick in. It had gotten right chilly outside and as we were starting school this morning I realized that the children were all wrapped in blankets and I was a little cold myself. I checked the thermostat and realized that it was turned to "off". Let's just say it was cold. With the heat back on the house has gotten a lot more comfortable.

I checked the weather forecast to see if it would clear up today. It looks like we might see the sun just before it sets and tonight will be cold, about 28. I explained heat loss and conservation by cloud cover to the two children next to me. As more children gathered around I showed them the radar so they could see where poor Alabama was getting slammed with the storms that had gone through last night. Then I showed them the temperature map and explained the concept of a front. They were fascinated. Thus it was that when I looked at the 10 day forecast and saw that we "might" have scattered flurries next Wednesday, there was complete pandemonium. As they jumped up and down I tried to remind them that there was a very low chance that it would happen, but you could see snowmen lined up like the Rockettes in a chorus line, dancing in their heads. The closest thing we've got to snow right now is a drift of white camellia petals shaken loose by the wind. Oh well. Maybe we'll see a flake or two. (c;


I am in the middle of an order for a Columba blanket in wool. I have to say, I love this wool! It's so springy, so soft and it holds its shape so well. When you hold the blanket up it has the loveliest drape.

The wool is a natural color, warmer than white (the picture above is more yellow because of the lamplight). You can see the color better in the picture below. It gives the blanket a very "heirloom" look. The skeins are teensy so it's going to take about 15 to do one blanket!

This is the superwash wool - the amazing stuff you can throw in the washer! But it's 100% wool and feels wonderful. I have another order for an Emelia blanket in wool after that. What a treat to work with!

[Note: I still have one of these blankets worked in acrylic as well as the matching bonnet in the shop.]

Sneak Peak

Sneak peak of some Christmas presents in progress...

And I can't describe anything because then the recipients won't be surprised! I'll try to take pictures and post after Christmas. You'll be interested in what I do with the wool in the third picture...

Anyone else making things for Christmas?

Monday, November 29, 2010

St. Andrew the First Called

How much do you know about St. Andrew the apostle?

(Commemorated November 30th)

The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he later brought his own brother, the holy Apostle Peter, to Christ (John 1:35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from his youth he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and he worked with his brother as a fisherman. When the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John began to preach, St Andrew became his closest disciple. St John the Baptist himself sent to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God.

After the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, St Andrew went to the Eastern lands preaching the Word of God. He went through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, he reached the River Danube, went along the coast of the Black Sea, through Crimea, the Black Sea region and along the River Dniepr he climbed to the place where the city of Kiev now stands.

He stopped overnight on the hills of Kiev. Rising in the morning, he said to those disciples that were with him: "See these hills? Upon these hills shall shine forth the beneficence of God, and there will be a great city here, and God shall raise up many churches." The apostle went up around the hills, blessed them and set up a cross. Having prayed, he went up even further along the Dniepr and reached a settlement of the Slavs, where Novgorod was built. From here the apostle went through the land of the Varangians towards Rome for preaching, and again he returned to Thrace, where in the small village of Byzantium, the future Constantinople, he founded the Church of Christ. The name of the holy Apostle Andrew links the mother, the Church of Constantinople, with her daughter, the Russian Church.

On his journeys the First-Called Apostle endured many sufferings and torments from pagans: they cast him out of their cities and they beat him. In Sinope they pelted him with stones, but remaining unharmed, the persistant disciple of Christ continued to preach to people about the Savior. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the Lord worked miracles. By the labors of the holy Apostle Andrew, Christian Churches were established, for which he provided bishops and clergy. The final city to which the Apostle came was the city of Patra, where he was destined to suffer martyrdom.

The Lord worked many miracles through His disciple in Patra. The infirm were made whole, and the blind received their sight. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the illustrious citizen Sosios recovered from serious illness; he healed Maximilla, wife of the governor of Patra, and his brother Stratokles. The miracles accomplished by the Apostle and his fiery speech enlightened almost all the citizens of the city of Patra with the true Faith.

Few pagans remained at Patra, but among them was the prefect of the city, Aegeatos. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of the Gospel. But even the miracles of the Apostle did not convince Aegeatos. The holy Apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeatos gave orders to crucify the apostle. The pagan thought he might undo St Andrew's preaching if he were to put him to death on the cross.

St Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the prefect with joy and with prayer to the Lord, and went willingly to the place of execution. In order to prolong the suffering of the saint, Aegeatos gave orders not to nail the saint's hands and feet, but to tie them to the cross. For two days the apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take St Andrew down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeatos gave orders to stop the execution. But the holy apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified apostle, having given glory to God, said: "Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit." Then a blazing ray of divine light illumined the cross and the martyr crucified upon it. When the light faded, the holy Apostle Andrew had already given up his holy soul to the Lord. Maximilla, the wife of the prefect, had the body of the saint taken down from the cross, and buried him with honor.

A few centuries later, under the emperor Constantine the Great, the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were solemnly transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles beside the relics of the holy Evangelist Luke and St Paul's disciple St Timothy.

Many Years to my nephew Andrew,
whose twin brother is named Peter!

Music Monday: Georgian Chant

[Georgian, not Gregorian. And that's Georgia the country, not the state.]

Unlike some other Orthodox musical traditions, a lot of Georgian chant is polyphonic. Per Wikipedia, "Georgian folk music possesses the oldest tradition of polyphonic music in the world, predating the introduction of Christianity."  I've always like polyphony but I've mostly been familiar with the Western traditions (i.e.-Palestrina, Tomás Luis de Victoria, etc.). Georgian music has a certain haunting quality about it. Listen, and see what you think. (The link to Victoria will take you to a previous post in which you can listen to O Magnum Mysterium. Good for comparison purposes.)

This video includes a voice-over explanation as well as some more secular Georgian music.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pumpkin-Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

I can't make any claim to this recipe because I've seen variations on it all over the internet. I just put some elements together. Coming right after Thanksgiving and during Advent, the pumpkin spice is a seasonable flavor. Plus, I was inspired by Kelly's dilemma of "too much pumpkin".

1 box spice cake mix (Duncan Hines was fastable)
1 15 oz can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
(Option: add chopped nuts and/or oatmeal)

1 can white frosting (Pillsbury white was fastable)
Maple flavoring

Mix the cake mix and the pumpkin. When you start mixing you'll be thinking you're making bread dough. Relax. Resist the temptation to add water or any other liquid. As you stir (and I mixed it with a fork), the consistency will change so that it's closer to a cross between cake batter and cookie dough. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners filling them about 3/4 full because they will rise a little bit during baking. Try to smooth out the top a little bit because the peaks won't "melt" as they cook.  Bake at 325 for 25 minutes. You can check with a toothpick to see if they're done in the center. You can also use the "spring back" test, prodding it in the center. [Note: I also made some mini-cupcakes without liners (I sprayed with Pam) and they cooked completely in 20 minutes.]

Mix maple flavoring with the frosting. How much depends on the type of flavoring you're using, but I'll just tell you I had to add about 3 times more than I was thinking I would need. Mix it in and keep tasting until the flavor gets where you want it to be. Frost the cupcakes when they're cool. You can put some chopped nuts on top if you like.

These "cupcakes" could also be considered muffins, especially if you add nuts and oatmeal and don't frost them. Dusting them with sifted powdered sugar would be another pretty idea.

[Note: this also works with chocolate cake mix - I made it this evening and included oatmeal. Just a note, when you include oatmeal, the cooking time increases by about 5 minutes.]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God

(commemorated on November 27th)

The Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God "Of the Sign" is one of the most ancient icons of the Russian Church. In the thirteenth century during the Tatar invasion, when all the Russian realm was put to the extremest tribulation, the city of Kursk, ravaged by the Horde of Batu, fell into desolation.

One day in the environs of the city a hunter noticed the ancient icon, lying on a root face downwards to the ground. The hunter lifted it and saw that the image of the icon was similar to the Novgorod "Znamenie" Icon. With the appearance of this icon immediately there appeared its first miracle. Just as the hunter lifted up the holy icon from the earth, right then, at that place where the icon lay, gushed up strongly a spring of pure water. This occurred on September 8, 1259. The hunter decided not to leave the icon in the forest and settled on as a resting place an ancient small chapel, in which he put the newly-appeared image of the Theotokos. Soon inhabitants of the city of Ryl'a heard about this, and being in location not far away, they began to visit the place of the appearance for venerating the new holy image.

They transferred the icon to Ryl'a and put it in a new church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. But the icon did not long remain there. It disappeared and returned to its former place of appearance. The inhabitants of Ryl'a repeatedly took it and carried it to the city, but the icon incomprehensibly returned to its former place. Everyone then realized, that the Theotokos preferred the place of appearance of Her Icon. The special help granted by the Mother of God through this icon is bound up with important events in Russian history: with the war of liberation of the Russian nation during the Polish-Lithuanian incursion in 1612, and the 1812 Fatherland war. From the icon several copies were made, which also were glorified.

Illegal Cat-fighting Ring Discovered

CORNIX, NJ (KROW)-- Two crows were just arrested on suspicion of running an illegal cat-fighting ring. The names of the crows are not being released since they are minors. They have denied all allegations but a video has surfaced in which they appear to be urging two cats on to fight. Cat lovers have raised an outcry at this new form of cat abuse which seems to be becoming more popular, especially amongst urban fowls. "To take such beautiful animals and break their spirits, not to mention the physical injuries that they incur - it's just criminal. We are seeking justice for this gentle species." Others have denied seeing any criminal activity taking place. "It's just ludicrous," said a crow who wished to remain anonymous. "Clearly the cats in the video were working out their own differences. The crows were just innocent bystanders." Whether they were innocent remains to be seen. The lawyers for the birds have described the "pecking" seen in the video as "helpful scavenging of insects." A local official for the SPCC (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Cats) has said it will push for more stringent penalties for lawbreakers. Jury selections begin next week.

Friday, November 26, 2010

War Eagle!!

Wow! What a game! I know my brother and sister-in-law were cold, but ecstatic up in the stands.

Auburn, undefeated this season (11-0) played their arch-rival Alabama (9-2) this afternoon in Tuscaloosa. Auburn was behind, 24-0 in the first half and came back to win 28-27!! Unbelievable! They head to the SEC championship game next week in Atlanta.

War Eagle!


Whew. I finally found a dress I like (that might like me back). We'll see how it looks when it comes, but I have high hopes. Now I only have to dress five children! I'm thinking bow ties for the boys...

(Sorry, couldn't get larger size)

[Ok, that's a really sorry picture, so here's the link.]

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fifty Days

God is wonderful in his works!!
November 25, 2010   Three teens survived 50 days adrift in the Pacific in a small tinnie, sharing a single raw seagull and drinking small amounts of rainwater. Samuel Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, were dehydrated, sunburnt and very hungry when rescued after being spotted by a tuna boat.

The boys disappeared in their small aluminium boat from a small coral atoll in Tokelau, 500km north of Samoa, on October 5. A memorial service was held for them last month after an extensive air search by the New Zealand airforce failed to find any trace of them.

But they were spotted on Wednesday afternoon by the crew of the San Nikunau as they drifted in open ocean northeast of Fiji, 1300km from where they had disappeared. San Nikunau first mate Tai Fredricsen said the crew had investigated after thinking it was a "little weird" that it was floating in the open ocean. The boys started waving desperately as they got to within sight of their small craft.

He said the trio were ecstatic to be rescued and are now relaxing listening to music and watching cartoons. "They were in reasonably good spirits for how long they'd been adrift," Mr Fredricsen said. "They were very badly sunburnt. They were in the open during the day up in the tropics there. But really they just needed basic first aid." The boys were initially placed on a drip to rehydrate them, but were soon taking sips of water and asking for food.

Mr Fredricsen said the boys had resorted to drinking small amounts of sea water because there had been no rain over the previous two days. He suggested they would have been extremely lucky to survive another day at sea.

Last month 500 people on the boys' home island of Atafu held a memorial services for them, having given up hope that they would be found alive. But yesterday their ecstatic families received the good news, with the boys phoning home from the tuna boat. The rescue was made more miraculous because the San Nikunau was operating far from the waters it normally fishes, taking a shortcut as it headed home to New Zealand.

The boys are expected to arrive today in the Fiji capital Suva, where they will be treated in hospital before making a boat trip back to Tokelau.
I think Mr. Fredricsen is right: they were very lucky (blessed) to find help when they did. You don't survive very long after you start drinking salt water. Fifty days! That's longer than the Nativity fast is. And I complain about that?? Lord have mercy.

Daybook: November 25, 2010, Thanksgiving

Outside my window...

It's cool, 69 degrees, cloudy, breezy ... absolutely delightful.

I am thinking...

How blessed I am.

I am thankful for...

My family
Having all of the basic necessities of life provided for
A beautiful house
The ability to crochet - it makes me happy
The digital camera
All of my extended family safe and healthy this year

From the learning rooms...

Nothing today!

From the kitchen...

Breakfast is almost ready. The table is set. I have a nice dinner planned for about 1 PM.

I am wearing...

A long black knit skirt (I love it - it came from LandsEnd), taupe knit top, my favorite blue apron, no shoes.

I am creating...

A Columba Blanket in wool. I love the wool! I'm planning a post on it all by itself soon.

I also put these candle holders together last night (adding the fresh things this morning). I know the picture is a little blurred. This is not copied out of Martha Stewart - it's called "making do with what you have". I wanted candles on the table but not in my standard candlesticks. I wished I had some glass hurricanes to use. I found some pecans. I remembered I had some large Mason jars. Hm. Then I tied a bow around the top. It still looked bare so I added the berries from the zillion Heavenly Bamboo bushes around the house. It's the only thing we have that is a "fall color"; everything else is green still. I managed to put enough of this together with the last of the zinnias in a bowl of water inside a basket to make a centerpiece. You could almost believe it's fall!

I am going...

Hmm. I don't know of anywhere I'm going in the near future. We're planning to go to Dallas for my youngest brother's wedding just after Theophany.

I am reading...

At bedtime, because I've been so tired, I've been re-reading The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. Father gave me a beautiful edition for Christmas a few years ago. It's a hardcover edition with old and new illustrations by the original illustrator Pauline Baynes. It's such a treat. I fell asleep last night sometime after Aslan gave the animals the gift of speech.

On my special prayer list are:

My little nephews who both had uncomfortable procedures yesterday.
Baby Lucia and her family.
Elizabeth, who is still job-hunting.
A troubled family at church.
Rachel and Cameron, who are spending the first holiday after their daughter's death.
Edna, Mark and Thomas, who are doing the same thing.

I am hearing...

Children complaining that they are hungry!

Around the house...

We cleaned the last two days so there wouldn't be anything to do but the cooking and I started that last night. Lamplight is so nice on cool, cloudy mornings.

One of my favorite things...

Pickles singing "Pizza Angel" from VeggieTales. (The part where he sings "gooooooey" cracks me up.)

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Get one more homeschool day in before the weekend.
Begin the serious clean-out before Christmas.
Put the garden to bed for winter.

Here are some picture thoughts I am sharing...

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Template courtesy of The Simple Woman's Daybook

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Star Wars

I think some people by now have figured out I am a Star Wars fan. Of episodes IV to VI that is. I'm ennhh on the newer three. For newer readers, check this out. A couple things I'd like to share that I really enjoyed:

First, here is an excerpt from an essay on the movies by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo I read on the blog, Flowers for the Teacher:

Personally, I was deeply impressed and moved with this series of films by director George Lucas, and I felt that his Greek ancestry was at least evident in his handling of the material. Return of the Jedi is positively Dostoevskian in its moral content, and I am convinced that Lucas is familiar with Orthodox teachings and lives of Saints. The basic plot of the Star Wars series is simple: an evil dictator has conquered a small galaxy and abolished its former pan-galactic democracy. He is proclaimed emperor, and his forces are attempting to destroy the remaining resistance to his rule. While the general battles are fought with standard science fiction weaponry, this is only the superficial part of the story, because the actual battle is being fought in the human conscience and will. Surprisingly, delightfully, the real story is one of the immense struggle between the dark and the good side of that universal nature of which man is a part - the fallen nature of man and the universe. In the movie series, this nature is called "the force." In many reviews, "the force" has been interpreted as an unsavoury parody of God. After a careful examination of the real plot of the Star Wars series, however, I was led toward the conclusion that "the force" is that universal nature, and that the whole theme of the movie and the energies of the plot line are directed at the struggle within the fallen nature between co-operation with the dark side of that nature or with its "light" side that law of contradiction which Apostle Paul speaks of as warring within us, and upon which Orthodox monasticism is based.
Archbishop Lazar then reviews some specific storylines in the film. He begins to sum up:
In the closing scene of the film, the allies are celebrating their final victory - not entirely aware that the victory was actually won by Luke Skywalker's defeat of the passions in his own life, and his ultimate choice of co-suffering love over the temptations of power, anger and malice. Luke observes the worldly celebrations from a distance - he is disconnected from all this, dispassionate, already on a higher plane, his moral grandeur and virginity intact, he has become a "Jedi", a true monk. He has received the Skhema and the real victories in his galaxy will be won by him, and those who may follow him. He is now the Elder. As he turns his back on the festivities, he sees in an aura a vision of his sainted Elder, Yoda, his spiritual father Kenobi who, after his own self-sacrificing death, became Luke's patron saint, and Luke's father, Darth Vader - all smiling benevolently. Darth Vader with the two saints? Of course, for such is the power of repentance, such is that love which grants to him who wrought from the eleventh hour together with those who wrought from the first.
Go here to read the whole thing. It was great.

Second, on a lighter note, I just viewed this on Byzantine, Texas. I was cracking up.

Prayer request and an inspiring story

Elizabeth* has requested prayers for the child of a friend of hers. I think everyone has figured out by now that I have a soft spot for sick babies and children (which is why I never worked pediatrics). Read more when you get to the bottom.
I have known Lucia's mother, Kh. Ramia for a good few years now through various Orthodox events in Ottawa. She married and is now a wonderful priest's wife! Lucia, her beautiful daughter, is very ill. She is now 4 months old and was born with Trisomy 18.

Ramia explains what Trisomy 18 is in her first post:

Trisomy 18 is a pretty rare genetic condition where an extra piece of genetic material is found on the 18th chromosome. It's not hereditary, but just one of those things that happens "randomly." I say that because I don't really believe it's coincidence, but that the Lord chose us for her. If you read anything about it (it's also called Edward's Syndrome), it will tell you that most children with this diagnosis don't make it to birth and the ones that do, very very rarely make it past their first year. So Lucia is a little miracle -- maybe a BIG miracle actually, since I think all children are miracles.

Lucia has been really struggling this week and currently has a collapsed lung not to mention her heart that has a large hole in it. Please join me in prayer for Lucia and subscribe to Kh. Ramia's blog and let her know you are praying for her very beautiful and strong baby girl, Lucia.
When I read this I thought, Didn't I watch a video some time ago that my sister shared with me about a baby with Trisomy 18? So I checked, and sure enough, I did. I hope you have your tissues ready. Obviously this is sad, but it's also joyful. Joyful doesn't always mean happy.

[Update Note: I kept reading down on baby Lucia's site and see where they've watched the video. *Also, Elizabeth (mentioned at the top) has just gone to the hospital and could use prayers herself.]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two years minus one day

Thank you everyone for your prayers. Honestly, that's the only thing that's been carrying me through this. Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing. Father, Ginger and Duchess are essentially well. Ribby has kept down some food today and Pickles has kept down fluid. When he wakes up from his long afternoon nap, I'll let him have a little food if he feels like it. So far Flopsy is unscathed. I hope tonight is not her night...

So tomorrow is this blog's second anniversary. I'm feeling a little too drained to come up with anything exciting or different to do tomorrow. So I'm turning to you. What is your favorite post? It doesn't matter if it's short or long, silly or serious. If you have one, leave it in the comment box (don't worry about leaving a link, just the general idea). In looking back over the last two years, I'm curious to know what about this blog you like. Not that I'm planning on swerving in a different direction or catering to only one interest (perish the thought!) but I'd like to know what people like about it.

And one more thing: I don't put a whole lot of stock in the number of followers a blog has. After all, if you look, some of the people following a blog are also following six hundred other ones. But as I mentioned a few days ago, I do like round numbers so it would be pretty cool in a way to see the number of followers round up to 50. I will be realistic and say that 40 is a round number too and I'm just as likely to lose seven followers as gain three, especially after a post like this!

But seriously, thank you for hanging in there. Some of you have been there for the entire life of the blog (Hi Rebecca!) and others of you came last week, but I've enjoyed getting to know all of you. It's been really fun and I look forward to another year. (c;

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turkey Buzzards

At the beginning of fall, a group of turkey buzzards moved into
 the AT&T tower on the other corner of our block.
 Turkey buzzards aren't really pretty close up.

Fortunately, we don't ever see them close up.
They're quite large and look like they're capable of carrying off your family cat.

But they only eat carrion.
I guess it's not the greatest thing to have turkey buzzards
hanging around your house.

But at a distance,
as they're wheeling over your house in the late afternoon,
the setting sun glints off their wings
and they look beautiful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Entrance of the Mother of God

Tomorrow is the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God.
With sick children at home I am missing Vespers tonight.
God willing, we will all be able to be at Liturgy tomorrow.

I put together a garland to adorn the icon of the feast.
The flowers are Camellia japonica, 'morning glow', I believe.
They have a faint scent of roses.
Fitting, for the Mother of God.

I gave Father directions for placing the flowers around the icon.
I was anxious that he would have trouble and that they wouldn't stay.
(I didn't mention that I was also sad that I wouldn't see them.)
Then Father suggested that I run over to church
 and take care of it myself before he had to leave.

What a blessing!
(I took pictures, of course.)

Troparion (Tone 4)

Today is the preview of the good will of God,
Of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the temple of God,
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice and sing to her: Rejoice,
O Divine Fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation.

Kontakion (Tone 4)

The most pure Temple of the Savior;
The precious Chamber and Virgin;
The sacred Treasure of the glory of God,
Is presented today to the house of the Lord.
She brings with her the grace of the Spirit,
Therefore, the angels of God praise her:
"Truly this woman is the abode of heaven."

Joyous Feastday!

[Sunday morning update: Duchess got sick again last night and I gave in and am staying home with all of the children. I don't know who will get sick next and I don't want to pass this little bundle of joy onto anyone else. Thank you for your prayers.]


You know, sometimes something hits you "upside the head", to use a playground phrase. My ears are still ringing.

I got a link to a youtube video in the mail the other day. It was in the daily email from a beloved priest of a former parish. It seemed to describe "department store music".

I didn't watch it.

I saw an embedded video in the blog of a dear friend yesterday. It seemed to describe "department store music."

I didn't watch it.

I checked my dashboard this morning and saw a new post by Reader Steven of Pithless Thoughts. It was entitled, "Why I Wept." I clicked on it. What followed was a lovely post about Advent. The first advent, that lasted for thousands of years. Inexplicably, at the end, there was an embedded video called "Christmas Food Court Flash Mob". Steve said he wept when he saw it. I was still trying to figure out what a flash mob was (sorry, I know now, I'm not from the 'big city' y'all) when I clicked on the video. I figured I didn't have anything else better going at that moment. I was a little down from the fact that I didn't have one comment on the "499 posts" post.

I realized fairly quickly that this was the "department store music" video that I'd been ignoring. I watched anyway. I figured out what was going to happen. I thought "Great. What a really nice thing to do," but I thought Steve was being overly emotional (sorry Steve) about a nice video. So I watched the video.

And wept.

I can't put it into words like Steve can, so read his post.

And watch the video.

So there's number 500.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This post brought to you today by the number 499.

Wow! I was caught off guard when I noticed the other day that I was coming up on 500 posts. Not that this represents any special achievement or anything, but it's a nice, round number. Something I was aware of is that I'm also approaching the second anniversary of this blog (Nov 23rd). I was thinking it would be nice to have the two coincide, but it doesn't look like it's going to work out that way. No matter. It's still pretty close.

So, does anyone have any ideas for a fun celebration of the event(s)?

And, just so I don't waste post 500 on something totally silly, I'll go ahead and recount something funny that was said the other day.

I was throwing on just anything to run to the store to get buckets and Gatorade (fun) and as I was putting on some beat-up tennis shoes, Father said I looked nice. I checked to see that he had his glasses on and then looked down at myself again. I told him later that it must have been an optical illusion. He replied that it was an "optimal" illusion. Har, har. (c; I married him for his puns, you know.


If you like photography, especially older photography, visit Shorpy.
Literally thousands of old catalogued photographs.
And the detail...

Dramatic production of Sleeping Beauty, 1910

Wasn't this well done?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Orthodox Church for the Deaf and Blind

I had never heard of this!
What a wonderful blessing for those who cannot hear or see.
I hope this may become less rare.

h/t Kim at Nutbrown Cottage

For His Mercy Endureth Forever

The Polyeleos is my favorite part of Matins...

Psalm 136 (135) KJV

1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
4 To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.
5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever.
8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever.
9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:
11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:
12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.
13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:
14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:
15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.
16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.
17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:
20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:
21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:
22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.
23 Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:
24 And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.
25 Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.
26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Appeal for monastery

I'm sharing Reader Stephen's appeal for help for St. Michael the Archangel Monastery in Canones, NM. They are very primitive and are living at a basic survival level. Reader Stephen (who blogs at Pithless Thoughts) is willing to do some construction work for them to help them make their cells and other buildings habitable for winter but he is barely making ends meet himself and can't even afford the gas money to get up there. His son is a monk and just moved there to help. Please consider helping the monastery and/or passing this along to others. Thank you.


Thought I'd share this.
Notice that the girl didn't decide to help. She did it without thinking.
Such is the power of habit.
Cultivate such habits.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Gallery!

Something new!
If anyone would like to post a picture in the gallery of a blanket or bonnet that they received, I would be happy to add it! Please e-mail me with the picture or direct me to it (if it's online already). The e-mail address is annacrawford (at) cableone (dot) net. It is not necessary for identifying information to accompany the picture(s).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Small reminder

I meant to mention earlier that today is the 40th day for both Mary Evelyn and Makiah. Please keep both of them and their families in your prayers. Both of them are in the "prayer list" on the sidebar.

May their memories be eternal!

OK, OK, the cake.

Enough frosting, flowers, leaves, sprinkles and candles and the right lighting...it doesn't look bad!

No flower pots though...


December 15th. The beginning of the Nativity fast. In 40 days it will be Christmas. Doesn't seem too far off, does it?

We had a busy, busy weekend and wound up sleeping in this morning. The massive amount of rain that came through last night into this morning didn't hurt one bit. When I did get up, I was convinced it was around 6:30. I'm not going to tell you what time it was but let's just say I was a leeetle off.

I never actually sat down last week and made a revised menu for Advent, so I'm going to have to do that today. Since I'm not a terribly great cook the list will include a lot of menus from Lent too, but some things that in later Lent seem more like "food for cold weather", will be placed in more prominence. I have an urge to bake as well. We'll see how long that lasts. (Especially after last night...)

This brings me around to the household organization in general. Remember the weekly/daily task list? I started to let this slide (no surprise), but then realized it was mostly because I had an artificial schedule that didn't work for me. The other day as I was doing laundry, for instance, I realized that it was stupid to even put laundry on the list. I don't mind laundry and I wind up putting in at least one load a day (although it usually works out to three loads every other day or something like that). Having it on the list merely satisfies that need I have to "check something off". I've started thinking that what I really need is a weekly list that I do in whatever order makes sense at the time. I'm going to do some revisions and I'll let you know what I came up with. I really love fall and early winter and have a special nesting instinct for this time. I want to make the most of it.

Another thing I need to work on is my own set of expectations. I don't mean about the house, I mean about life in general. In my head, when I really get going, I picture the ideal family life with children who cooperate in my autumnal fantasies. Who say, "Mommy, I'd really rather sit around the living room and sip hot chocolate while you read us a story than watch a movie in the boys' room." Right. Who come to me and say, "Mommy, we've been thinking. We'd like to divide all of our possessions in half and give half to the poor." This, as opposed to me saying, "You all have way too much stuff! No wonder you can't keep your rooms clean. I'm going to come through in a minute with a few garbage bags and we're going to clean house!" eliciting the response, "NOOOOoooooo!!!!!" Sigh.  I'm pretty sure I can't be alone here.

I'd like to say that in honor of Advent, this blog will become sober, thoughtful, quieter and more holy. But I can't. Honesty forbids. So I completely understand those of you who would like to read only sober, thoughtful, quiet and holy blogs for the next forty days. Over here, I'm going to continue telling it like it is, sharing children's funnies, getting righteously indignant, sharing the latest cooking disaster, gushing over beautiful period clothing, and playing show-and-tell with my crocheting. Oh, and making lame attempts at humor. My faith is intertwined with all of these. I'd be honored to have you along for the ride.

Happy Advent!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"There's a hole in this cake!"*

I had some fool idea that I would make a bundt cake for Duchess's birthday party instead of a regular layer cake. (We had her party this evening as it's the last day before the fast.) Have I ever made a bundt cake that turned out? No. I can't ever get the blame thing to come out of the pan in one piece.

Well, this evening was no different. Flopsy was hanging over the counter watching my futile efforts. When I finally felt the weight shift, I moved the pan to find that a significant amount of cake was still up in the pan. I looked at it for a moment and Flopsy said, "I'm sure this has happened to lots of people before." What a sweetheart.

Well, usually I can correct errors with mortar frosting (which is why I always buy TWO cans) but I had some doubts. To get the correct shape I was going to wind up putting us all into a sugar-induced coma. I started putting frosting on gingerly. There was no way I wasn't going to have some crumbs mixed in so I pretended not to see them. I figured I'd put flowers over the worst spots. (Boy, this cake is sounding better and better, isn't it?) After I put the white layer on I set it aside so I could fix dinner. I was going to decorate it afterwards.

Father came in the kitchen and expressed some surprise that I'd made a bundt cake. I shared what had happened. I told him that the phrase that came to mind as I was icing was "Well, you win some and you lose some." More appropriately would have been, "You win some and some they just pull the blanket over your head." He said that my cake would have needed a closed casket. Then he proposed a bakery to that end. Here's the imagined conversation:

Customer: "Is my cake ready?"
Baker: "Um. Maybe you should just come to the bakery."
Customer: "What's wrong? Is it ready?"
Baker: "Ma'am, I think you need to come down here. Is there anyone who can drive you?"
Customer: "No, and I can't come right now. Tell me what's wrong!"
Baker: "Well, we did all we could, frosting infusions, toothpick splints, even an entire layer transplant. But..."
Customer: "You mean..."
Baker: "I'm sorry. We lost the cake."
Customer: "Noooo!!!!"
Baker: "And you're going to want a closed casket."

(Pictures of the resurrected disaster to follow later.)

*From My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Holy and All-praised Apostle Philip

Troparion - Tone 3

Holy Apostle Philip,
entreat the merciful God
to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

Kontakion - Tone 8

Your disciple, friend and imitator of Your passion,
the God-preaching Philip, proclaimed You to the universe!
By his prayers deliver Your Church from her enemies;
through the Theotokos protect every city, most merciful Christ!

The Holy and All-praised Apostle Philip, was a native of the city of Bethsaida in Galilee. He had a profound depth of knowledge of the Holy Scripture, and rightly discerning the meaning of the Old Testament prophecies, he awaited the coming of the Messiah. Through the call of the Savior (John 1:43), Philip followed Him. The Apostle Philip is spoken about several times in the Holy Gospel: he brought to Christ the Apostle Nathaniel (i.e. Bartholomew, April 22, June 30, and August 25. See John. 1:46). The Lord asks him where to buy bread for five thousand men (John. 6: 5-7). He brought certain of the Hellenized Jews wanting to see Jesus (John. 12:21-22); and finally, at the Last Supper he asked Christ to show them the Father (John. 14:8).

After the Ascension of the Lord, the Apostle Philip preached the Word of God in Galilee, accompanying his preaching with miracles. Thus, he restored to life a dead infant in the arms of its mother. From Galilee he went to Greece, and preached among the Jews that had settled there. Some of them reported the preaching of the Apostle to Jerusalem. In response, some scribes arrived in Greece from Jerusalem, with one of the Jewish chief priests at their head, to interrogate the Apostle Philip.

The Apostle Philip exposed the lie of the chief priest, who said that the disciples of Christ had stolen away and hidden the body of Christ. Philip told instead how the Pharisees had bribed the soldiers on watch, to deliberately spread this rumor. When the Jewish chief priest and his companions began to insult the Lord and lunged at the Apostle Philip, they suddenly were struck blind. By his prayer the Apostle restored everyone's sight. Seeing this miracle, many believed in Christ. The Apostle Philip provided a bishop for them, by the name of Narcissus (one of the Seventy Apostles, January 4).

From Greece the Apostle Philip went to Parthia, and then to the city of Azotus, where he healed an eye affliction of the daughter of a local resident named Nikoklides, who had received him into his home, and then baptized his whole family.

From Azotus the Apostle Philip set out to Syrian Hieropolis (there were several cities of this name) where, stirred up by the Pharisees, the Jews burned the house of Heros, who had taken in the Apostle Philip, and they wanted to kill the apostle. The apostle performed several miracles: the healing of the hand of the city official Aristarchus, withered when he attempted to strike the apostle; and restoring a dead child to life. When they saw these marvels, they repented and many accepted holy Baptism. After making Heros the bishop at Hieropolis, the Apostle Philip went on to Syria, Asia Minor, Lydia, Emessa, and everywhere preaching the Gospel and undergoing sufferings. Both he and his sister Mariamne (February 17) were pelted with stones, locked up in prison, and thrown out of villages.

Then the Apostle Philip arrived in the city of Phrygian Hieropolis, where there were many pagan temples. There was also a pagan temple where people worshiped an enormous serpent as a god. The Apostle Philip by the power of prayer killed the serpent and healed many bitten by snakes.

Among those healed was the wife of the city prefect, Amphipatos. Having learned that his wife had accepted Christianity, the prefect Amphipatos gave orders to arrest St Philip, his sister, and the Apostle Bartholomew traveling with them. At the urging of the pagan priests of the temple of the serpent, Amphipatos ordered the holy Apostles Philip and Bartholomew to be crucified.

Suddenly, an earthquake struck, and it knocked down all those present at the place of judgment. Hanging upon the cross by the pagan temple of the serpent, the Apostle Philip prayed for those who had crucified him, asking God to save them from the ravages of the earthquake. Seeing this happen, the people believed in Christ and began to demand that the apostles be taken down from the crosses. The Apostle Bartholomew was still alive when he was taken down, and he baptized all those believing and established a bishop for them.

But the Apostle Philip, through whose prayers everyone remained alive, except for Amphipatos and the pagan priests, died on the cross.

Mariamne his sister buried his body, and went with the Apostle Bartholomew to preach in Armenia, where the Apostle Bartholomew was crucified (June 11); Mariamne herself then preached until her own death at Lykaonia.

The holy Apostle Philip is not to be confused with St Philip the Deacon (October 11), one of the Seventy.

This is a good day to pray for Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian church. He most certainly needs our prayers. As do all of the suffering Antiochian Orthodox Christians.

(Source of life and hymns, OCA, source of icon orthodoxwiki)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back in Time...

Men: You might as well just leave right now. Otherwise you're risking a serious overdose of femininity. I'll do something just for you later on.

Are we alone?

Ok, you're going to need to sit down, preferably in a chintz covered chair with a cup of tea. I have found the reproduction clothing site to end all reproduction clothing sites. Recollections.

There are literally hundreds of dresses, blouses, skirts, nightclothes, hats, earrings... you name it. It's unbelievable. I'm afraid I'm going to start gushing uncontrollably, so I'm going to let some of the pictures speak for themselves.