Sunday, September 29, 2013

By the Numbers

64  degrees forecasted as a low tonight.

47  times I have thought about this blog with a blank stare in the last few days.

32  days at the most before we should be able to finally hold this baby.

  days until my birthday. 

4.5 knit/crocheted squares I have made for the Syrian refugees so far.

  layers in the red velvet cake Duchess made for coffee hour today.

slices left when it was time to go home.

2   hours in the nap I took this afternoon.

2   times Smokey has gone in and out in the last 4 minutes. 

day since we finally decided on a name for our sweet girl.

0   meals I have personally made in the last 2 days.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Writing Progress

(Yet again) I'm working on A Tale of Four Cakes, determined this time to get it in such a shape that I can think about submitting it without fears of complete and utter humiliation. Haha, the fear is still there, but I'm doing my best to ignore it. As was suggested by a friend I may submit The Weed too, just for the heck of it.

I was thinking today about just where these stories came from. I mean, I'm not a writer. They mostly just, well, came to me. Some of you might remember that ATOFC was written in serial form. I assigned myself a chapter a day and wasn't entirely sure what was going to come out when I sat down at the keyboard. Many times I had the feeling of just transcribing a story I was being told, so I had the experience of reading it rather than writing it. At the twists and turns of the story I was just as surprised as any of you reading it.

Because, as I've stated, I'm NOT a writer, my impulse is to stuff these stories in the back closet and let them go. The only thing that keeps pulling me to do something more is the fact that when I get them back out and start reading, I actually get sucked into the story, lol. I still tear up at the end and laugh at the funny parts. And I wrote the things! Heck, I know what's coming!

So, while it's completely crazy that an almost-39-year-old mom with a nursing background, not a writing background, write some little stories and have the audacity to contemplate submitting them for consideration, I guess that's what I'm doing. The most likely result is a polite little rejection slip, but at least I will have done all I can for them. I've got to get past this fear of failure and rejection and make myself vulnerable, at least for the sake of the characters I created. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Babies, Nurseries, and What Babies Need

When our oldest was born, we lived in a very old house in northern Alabama. The air conditioner was in the one main middle room (a window unit) and the heater (one of those large, floor model furnaces) was also in the middle room. The blower didn't work. During the spring and fall the whole house was moderately livable, but during the winter and summer, we could only cool/heat the few central rooms. All the other rooms were shut off. One of those shut-off rooms we turned into the nursery before the baby came. It was at the back of the house, a corner room with a window to the south and one to the west. There was a tree just outside the west window so it helped shade it. During the spring and fall you could get the loveliest cross-breeze. The floors were old wood planks (like most of the rest of the house) and the walls were flat wood siding painted white. I put a rag rug on the floor (we had those in abundance) and moved a rocking chair from the living room to the nursery. A white metal twin bed was on one wall covered with a couple of old quilts. When my mother-in-law and sister-in-law found out about the baby coming they were absolutely ecstatic. One thing they did was obtain an old wardrobe at a used furniture store and paint it white with blue, pink and yellow trim (we didn't know the sex of the baby). I had an old three drawer chest that I painted to match. We had a hand-me-down crib from some fellow parishioners at church. I made the baby quilt and crocheted a blanket. All the baby clothes were washed and hung up in the wardrobe. It was a sweet little room, very un-fussy and pretty. I couldn't wait for her to get here.

She probably slept in the crib twice while we lived in that house.

We had borrowed an old-fashioned bassinet which we put by my side of the bed. I figured it would be easier to have her there in the beginning during the night for ease of nursing. Little did I know. She was the highest-contact-needs baby I have ever met, before or since. If she wasn't touching warm human skin she wouldn't fall asleep. If I could have persuaded one of our two cats to curl up next to her it wouldn't have mattered because it had to be skin (and she would pluck at it to make sure). She was like a baby kangaroo. I might as well have had a 16 month pregnancy for all the difference birth made! [The nursing business deserves a post all to itself. Oh my heavens...]

During the day I sometimes would carry her to the nursery, her room, and sit in the rocking chair to nurse her. I remember very vividly one day in May (she was born in April) sitting in the rocking chair with her after she'd nursed herself to sleep. The breeze was coming in the windows, the early afternoon light was filtered through the tree and shadows of leaves were moving on the floor and walls. I looked down at my sleeping firstborn and thought, right now, here, at this moment, I am perfectly happy and content. I will never forget this moment. And I never have.

One thing I learned from having our first baby was that babies don't care about their surroundings. They don't care what color you put them in, what kind of wood a crib is made from, what color is on the walls. It doesn't matter if their clothes are kept in a fancy wardrobe or a box. They just need you.

Photo below: first bath at home, 3 days old. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reaction to Inequality

I watched this and laughed until I was wiping away tears. Enjoy! (c:

Yarn Along: L.I.L.Y

I haven't gotten much accomplished knitting-wise over the last several days. I finished a pair of crocheted longies (which I'm going to felt slightly - will get pictures then) and finished two squares for L.I.L.Y. I'm pretty slow about knitting so I'll probably crochet the majority of the rest before I try to send a batch. I like the knitting, but I don't want it to take forever to be able to send something!

One nice thing I'll say for making these squares is they're great for using up stash! And you can totally play around with the color. A nice change from the usual.

I'm still reading Everyday Saints (featured last week) and just about anything else I can get my hands on. I was out of inspiration last night before bed so I fell asleep reading Fodor's guide to Alaska. I'm taking the kids to the library tomorrow so I'll try to grab some more things.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Suspended in the Air: Meteora

More information on Meteora.
Sometimes, someone makes a comment that just makes everything seem worthwhile:
"I am 11 weeks pregnant and went through a period of contemplating terminating the pregnancy as the father and were both fearful of how we would financially support another child (as we both have one child each from previous relationships). Running across this site has completely saddened my heart for even considering that option when there are couples who are longing for a child and having to experience the pain of loosing them involuntary. May God bless you all and your precious angels" 
-anonymous comment on the Lost Innocents photograph page

Elevation of the Holy Cross

Flowers for the Elevation of the Cross. We attended Liturgy in Hattiesburg yesterday (as it was their patronal feast) and they decorated their own cross there. I had to decorate ours to have at Liturgy today however:

 I like how the darker flowers look like butterflies that have landed amongst the daisies. :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Keepin' it Real" with Mary

I haven't given out one of these awards in simply ages, but when I came across a blog the other day, I knew I had a clear winner. I refuse to pick out one post in particular because the entire blog "keeps it real"! Mary has a hilarious writing style that is an instant pick-me-up. I keep wishing she lived next door (but alas, waaay over in Texas instead). From her "about me" description: "Sling-wearing, cloth diapering, homeschooling, crunchy conservative, Orthodox Christian mama blundering through life with three beautiful, challenging children and a husband...who gleefully feeds into the children's penchant for toilet humor."

I urge you to have a look-see at "Mare's Misadventures" even though a selfish part of me wants to keep it all for myself.

Congratulations, Mary, and please keep writing!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fear Factor: Cicadas vs. Roaches

I don't know if you were able to get a decent look at the cicada in that video I shot of Smokey flinging himself around the porch, but if you were, you saw that it is a pretty darn big bug. Chunky. Solid. Not the sort of bug that makes a *tic* if it flies into your window, but a *THUNK*. And it makes a nasty sort of clattering against the floor when it winds up on its back and tries to turn over. In fact, while I was out on the porch in my bare feet filming our little version of Wild Kingdom, I had the thought tiptoe through my head that these cicadas weren't so different from *gasp* roaches.

But it makes a nifty loud noise and I forgive it. So why do I have a tremendous fear of roaches?

Well, it's simple. Roaches are the physical embodiment of evil. They're two-dimensional so when they sense fear they can chase you through non-existent cracks. They stand for everything nasty and gross in the world.

I keep thinking I must have had some horrible experience as a small child to have developed such a nightmarish fear. I grew up in Florida so it's actually pretty likely. If you have a fear of roaches, you shouldn't live in the South. Or in an old house. Especially not in an old house in the South.

Guess where I live?!

I guess things are better than they used to be. As a child I was so sensitive to them that I could smell when one was in the same room with me. People would scoff when I froze and turned slowly, scanning the floor saying, "There is a ROACH in here" in the same tones that someone uses to announce the presence of a poltergeist. And then they would see the creature from hell scuttling along the baseboard. Take that, scoffers! [Note: the palmetto bug (or Florida woods cockroach) is known for the smell it gives off when it's disturbed. Considering palmetto bugs can be 2 inches long I think *I* was more likely to be disturbed than the bug!]

I always felt like climbing was the way to go. My college roommate came home one day to find me perched precariously on the back of the couch (which was not against a wall) having been treed there by a persistent roach who was sitting on the rug looking at me. I had only been there for about 20 minutes. I remember "Guiding Light" wasn't over yet. She calmly slaughtered the beast and disposed of the corpse so I could climb back down. I might have reacted better at the time but it had actually touched my foot as I sat on the couch. Physical contact was enough to give me a combined stroke and heart attack.

The day I saw a roach fly for the first time (heck, I always assumed those wings were decorative) I realized I would never be truly safe again. So much for climbing to escape.

[No photos were able to be included for this post because it might have upset the sensitivities of the author.]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Memory Eternal

[excerpted from a post in 2010]
Almost 9 years ago, I was awakened by the sound of my husband pounding up the stairs, two at a time, shouting to turn on the television.  I groggily got up and followed him to the TV.  Screaming, smoke, confusion...I didn't know what I was looking at.  Father was on the phone with his mother.  He explained: a plane - the big kind - had flown into one of the World Trade Towers.  I stood there horrified while babies played at my feet.  After about ten minutes he went back downstairs.  I was still staring transfixed at the screen when there were fresh shouts and screams and the camera swiveled around in the sky.  My heart in my throat, I watched another plane slide into the remaining tower.  My screams brought my husband and he held me while we stood there in disbelief.  We realized the first plane had not been an accident.  I looked at him and wondered if the world was coming to an end.  My oldest pulled on my legs and asked why Mommy was crying.  Her innocent face.  How do you explain this to a two-year-old child?  I told her a lot of people had been hurt and Mommy was very sad.  The reports and the horror did not end.  The towers collapsed on top of any survivors and the rescuers.  Another plane crashed in Pennsylvania.  [We lived in Pennsylvania, close to New York.]  Another plane into the Pentagon.  All flights grounded.

I reported to the hospital early that day.  Our three hospitals were some that were designated to receive transfers from New York hospitals to make room for the thousands of expected wounded. 

They didn't come.

Cars stood abandoned at local bus stations. The people in our community who had taken them to New York never came home to claim them. I still have the newspapers from the fourteen days following September 11th, showing the bleak faces of the bus station personnel, the portraits of the dead.

My cousin, who worked in the Towers, was not heard from

until a few days later when the call got through.

And St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which had stood in the shadow of the Towers,

was completely buried.
+  +  +
Memory Eternal to all those who lost their lives that day. 
Evil is still alive and well in the world...
...Lord have mercy on the suffering and martyred Christians, 
especially in Egypt and Syria. 
May God have mercy on us all!

Friday, September 6, 2013

LADEE Launch

Just in case anyone is tuning in now, you can watch live coverage of the launch of the LADEE satellite on NASA (and probably several other places). The launch itself is scheduled for 11:27 PM EST.

click to enlarge

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Yarn Along: Twin Edition!

This is the set I made for my sister who is expecting twin boys in a couple months. I had to wait until she got the package to post it on a yarn-along because she didn't know I was making the hats and booties as well as the cocoons! Hee hee, she was a little surprised. (c;


While the cocoons were identical, I made the hats and shoes slightly different (swapped colors) so they could be told apart a little bit.

Here are the Ravelry links to the projects:

 As for reading, I wanted to show two books I received as gifts recently!

The first, Everyday Saints, has been a hot item lately. I have wanted to read it and my dear friend Elizabeth sent it to me as a means of encouragement during these anxious weeks. Thank you SO MUCH, Elizabeth! I have enjoyed it so much and am reading it in little bits to make it last longer.

A few days ago I got a surprise book in the mail, Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby. Katherine sent it to help me along with my nesting!! Something delightful I realized when I looked through the book (and I recommend it) was that it was written by a mom with five children who was getting ready to welcome her sixth. :) Thank you, Katherine!!

And one more thing I want to mention: I was just made aware of a very worthy project for anyone who can crochet, knit or weave. Love in the Language of Yarn (L.I.L.Y.) is pleading for 8 inch squares (preferably in acrylic, but anything washable) to make into blankets for Syrian refugees. This is a good way to use up odds and ends of yarn. Children can easily help with this too as an eight inch square is within the reach of even beginners. Go to the blog or the FB page for more information. You can send as few as one square! Please consider helping! [They also love baby hats, etc. if that's more in your line. :) ]

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A blog for the birds

I usually don't do this, but I have to point something out because it's so cool. I noticed several days ago I had some hits from a place called "Nomans Land, MA". I thought the name was hilarious but didn't bother to look it up until today after I realized that the hits continued. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

[Nomans Land] is an uninhabited island 612 acres (2.477 km²) in size, located in the town of Chilmark, Dukes County, Massachusetts, USA. It is situated about three miles (5 km) off the southwest corner of the island of Martha's Vineyard.

The island likely has unexploded ordnance dating from its role as a practice bombing range from 1943-1996. Consequently, the island is closed to the public.
An airfield was constructed by the U.S. Navy on the southern edge of the island between November 1942 and May 1944, and the island was used, beginning in World War II, as a practice area for bombers for 53 years, 1943-1996. The airfield was abandoned by the U.S. Navy sometime between 1945 and 1954, though usage as a bombing range continued until 1996. Two restricted airspace areas, R-4105A and R-4105B, currently overlay the island.

In 1952 the island was sold by the Crane family to the Navy.

The eastern third of the island has been managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) since 1975. Following an effort to clear the island of ordnance in 1997 and 1998, the entire island was transferred to the FWS for use as a wildlife refuge, primarily for migratory birds.

Father's conclusion was that the birds have access to WIFI and are accessing my blog. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Amazing: The bees respect icons.

Seen on Mystagogy:
By Monk Simon

In the region of Kapandriti near Athens, a wonderful thing happens. Ten years ago, a devout beekeeper named Isidoros Ţiminis, thought to place in one of his hives an icon of the Crucifixion of the Lord. Soon thereafter, when he opened the hive, he was amazed that the bees showed respect and devotion to the icon, having "embroidered" it in wax, yet leaving uncovered the face and body of the Lord. Since then, every spring, he puts into the hives icons of the Savior, the Virgin Mary and the Saints, and the result is always the same.
 (read the rest)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Worth Noting:

Thou, O King, Who remainest forever
and art everlasting unto the ages, 
accept the supplication of sinners asking salvation, 
and grant the earth abundance, 
bestowing temperate weather, O Lover of mankind! 
Be the ally of the faithful Orthodox in battles against the ungodly barbarians, 
as once thou wast unto David; 
for they have come into Thy tabernacles 
and defiled Thine all-holy place, O Savior! 
Grant victories, O Christ God, 
by the intercession of the Theotokos, 
for Thou art the victory and boast of the Orthodox!

This was the Glory verse for the aposticha for Vespers last night (eve of the Church new year). I thought the petition asking for help for the 'Orthodox in battles against the ungodly barbarians' was particularly appropriate as we watch our barbarian president try to launch war against Syria. You can also look at it as a battle against secularism as anti-Christian forces in our country as they try to destroy our culture and take our children.