Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Grandpa, the Pelican

My aunt, my mom's younger sister, always says that when she sees a pelican, it is her dad, my grandpa, coming to visit and say hello. He loved the water and pelicans. I rather enjoy getting to say hello to my grandpa, who died when I was 4 or 5. I hardly remember him, but I loved him and think of him. I think of him more often as an adult than I ever did when I was younger, partially because we pray for him daily during our prayers for the departed, but also in times like this when we see pelicans at a nearby pond, or at the beach. I am grateful for these little reminder.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Alright, so I have been giving it some thought and have decided that one of the things where I am being afforded a lesson, is how to truly love your neighbor, but in my case, it is how to love your Christian neighbor. I know quite a few people, of varying backgrounds and lifestyles, but the people for me to most difficulty relate with are other Christians. In general, other Orthodox Christians don't fall into this category, but I have struggled with finding common ground, as well as, acceptance and beauty, in Christianity outside of the Orthodox realm.

When I have approached things from a cranial perspective, as in the beginning of trying to understand the teachings and perspectives of Protestants and Roman Catholics, it has only left me unsatisfied and sad, literally. There are plenty of people out there who also lend themselves to making it difficult to want to understand their beliefs, though I am surely no exception to this, particularly in my early days and when my emotions sneak in to jade things. In any case, my approach from a simply human and intellectual platform, led to disappointment.

I would say that when I began praying for people in their afflictions and simply focusing on my the plank in my own eye, to the best of my ability, with God's help, my understanding broadened and a seed was planted. I have found that Christ has revealed Himself in all people, in varying fashion everywhere. I have found a new facet of peace and faith within the context of loving one's neighbor in an entirety that I could hardly fathom.

I am grateful. This journey is a rigorous, beautiful one and I am glad to be on this path, though I may slip, I pray it is all to the Glory of God.

Something From the Coffee Shop

Here I go trying to write more blogs to be updated from time to time. Let's see, July is winding up into a neat end to the busy month in true style. Katherine is completing her art camp today, which she really enjoys. She is the kid who meshes with almost every situation, so long as she relaxes. If she isn't comfortable, she is a force to be reckoned with. I have always thought it best to trust her personal instincts and allow her to develop them in a natural fashion. If she doesn't want to say hello to someone she doesn't know, or chooses not to hug someone, I won't force her. It is different if she is just being shy and doesn't want to be in the middle of attention, but I have come to recognize the difference after nearly 8 years.

I think it is rather healthy for her to be able to strengthen her intuitive response, because if she learns to do this as she grows, she may find that she listens to that gut feeling when she is in a situation when she is older and be able to know how to handle herself. Learning Kung Fu will probably help in that respect and I think her Papa is pleased that she has chosen to take Kung Fu. I am sure this will allay some of his fears for her being a very pretty girl, who is slight of build and social with boys and girls alike. He knows that his biggest job is to be the measure for all men in her life, which is a tall order, but she has already come to him to ask his opinion of a boy that she sort of liked. I think that speaks volumes! She went to him to be sure that her Papa approves of and even likes boys that she is interested in.

I think it is important for dad's to 'date' their daughters. In this respect, the girls will come to understand what a date should be. For Kat and her Papa, they have a special meal and watch a movie together, sometimes they play a game. It is all appropriate and she will grow up with the idea that this is a normal date, I think. She has already become accustomed to having her weekly dates with her Papa and she is hard-pressed to give that up. In fact, even if I haven't got anything to do, I had better find something so they can have their time. I think their time together will also model for her what sort of marriage she should work for when she is old enough. I know she is only nearly 8, but if I am not thinking about these things now, I will just get lost in the shuffle and her entire life will pass me by.

I remember when she was small, having a deep-seeded hope that she might seek to become a monastic, but she is like her mom, who always liked the nuns and monks, but longed for a husband and family from a very young age. It would be silly of me to try to direct her somewhere she isn't headed on her path. If I am truly a believer that God directs our steps, then I have to be confident that my job is simply to guide her, give her boundaries and take her to church, the rest will come. I do believe there is effort to be made, but I also believe that no matter how we try to force ourselves, or others, into a slot where we don't belong, the dominant course seems to always push through. Who we are at the core and how we function and relate, it will find its way to the path where it belongs. In short, each persons path is their own and will be directed in whatever manner is beneficial for each of us, with or without our interference. It doesn't mean we can have influence and participate, but to try to make anyone to do anything only creates resentment and pain.

Alright, well, only a couple hours left for Kat at art camp and a friend I haven't seen in FOREVER is meeting me for coffee, hurray! So, I am going to go for now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Art For Thought

Art. It is something I have grown up with in the home my entire life, it is fused into my being as a fiber that cannot be separated from DNA, methinks. My whole family from childhood are visual artists, some of them are multi-dimensional, some are multi-media, all are rather talented. Though I do not consider myself that sort, I would say I am a fiber artist with knitting and sewing, as well as, with writing (I consider creating with words art), and would like to try my hand at pottery.

It isn't any wonder that Katherine has an innate sense of art swimming around in her. I have pictures from when she was 1, dressed in whatever she chose for the day, sprawled out over the floor with her papers full of drawings. If that doesn't tell you something, I don't know what will. She has always had her own ideas for art, so it will be interesting to have her in a class where they direct her skills in a certain manner. For example, when she was about 3 and 4, she went through a period where she would only draw with pencil and refused to color in between the lines of a coloring book. I think she decided that she would rather do the creating and make it exactly as she wants it. These days, she will color things in, but it still isn't her favorite sort of art and I am totally ok with that.

About a year ago, Katherine set up a time to skype with my dad, who is an artist and 'retired' art teacher. He was her Bob Ross. She had seen a show with Bob Ross one morning and could NOT resist the urge to paint something, so she did. Then, we thought of the idea with her Grawmps and she loved it. She had such a great time and I think we ought to do it again, if we can set it up.

This morning, I dropped her off to art camp which focuses on sketching and watercolors. She will go today through thursday for 3 hours each morning. The class is about 10 kids, including her, and one really nice teacher. She decided to wear as much color as she could fit in one outfit and I love that about her! She wore a tie-dye shirt underneath her tie-dye dress, with purple socks and her white, sparkly church sandals and 2 braids in her hair. She chose quick oats with cinnamon and raisins, as her breakfast and I brought grapes for her when she is done. Oh man, my baby is growing up and I am so grateful that I get to be a part of that.

I am a firm believer that we are all wired to be who we are, even before we are influenced by the world, but I also recognise that we are all capable of a great many things, if only we are given the opportunity. Her papa is a good example of being a late bloomer in fully realizing his artistic talent in his 30's, but just imagine if we hadn't decided that he should try an art class at the community college. Likely, he would just be drawing basic things with Katherine, only getting at the tip of his artistic iceberg. How many more people out their have untapped talent, partly due to lack of exposure, or simply because it doesn't fit in our societal status quo? Just something to chew over. Some of the most beautiful expressions of faith, love, life and nature are represented in art and I, for one, and grateful we have it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grateful as I Grumble

Today after church I had set up a Thanksgiving Molebin. For those of you who don't know, we serve molebin's in the Orthodox faith for something specific, often to a particular saint whose intercession is desired, based on their real life (for example, a saint who cared for orphan and other children, may be asked for intercession) or other such things. Long story short, we pray to a saint for intercession and when we have answer, or semblance thereof, we give thanks to God, hence the Thanksgiving Molebin. Think what you will, but it was 10 days after a molebin for answers, on the Feast of Christ's Ascension, which became Pentecost on the 10th day, when we got the answer about Jay's health 3 years ago, so I do not, personally, doubt the purpose.

Alright, back to my purpose, the molebin was requested because of an intricate family matter that was intense and then was, quite literally, miraculously resolved, for the time being. To be sure, it is great to give thanks, and we do as many times as we muster during the day, but when you are appreciative for one thing in particular, but struggling with others, sometimes the gratefulness can be rather a stretch. Lately, with the washer broken and our money being spread thin, it lingers in the back of the mind with every thought and attachment.

Here's the thing, I was standing there while we awaited the molebin, chewing over whether it was right to have a Thanksgiving molebin, when I didn't feel as grateful and thankful as I had when it first occurred to me to have it. Rather, should we be also having one in favor of our situation, as well as the Thanksgiving. I mulled over that one for a few and during the first few minutes of the service, the answer popped into my head. No, I shouldn't be predisposed to the idea of making supplication when everything that we have is already in our favor. It isn't to say that prayers for certain things are not good, but, in other words, Glory to God for all things. If I am to be grateful for that which I want and request, I must also be grateful for that which I need in order to grow. Just because I don't care for something, doesn't mean there isn't reasonable purpose for it in my life.

Honestly, the roundabout way it was presented in my mind's eye was: "What would I tell Katherine?" I would tell her exactly that we need to be grateful for all that we have, not matter what it is and whether or not we care for its place. To take the good withthe bad. So, there you have it, a nearly rambling blogpost on molebin's, life lessons and getting exactly what is needed. Miracles and simplicity is everywhere, so long as we take a moment to breath and observe. At least, that is my experience thus far.

Until next time,

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Where to begin....? Well, let's start with the washing machine deciding that it is a great time to go out and stop working. Oh joy! We have a front-loader and it has served us well for just more than 6 years, but replacing that sucker will likely cost a small fortune, of which we do not possess, and it will probably be half or more, to have it fixed. Jay is in contact with the woman he is working with through the Traumatic Brain Injury program to see if there is anyone who might be able to help solve this predicament. For now, laundromat's and friends' houses.

I have gotten out my jars to take inventory of what we've got to find out what we need to get. We have a fair amount of jars and even some lids, plenty of rings and varied sizes of everything. I want to get a couple more gallon jars for Jay to make some salt pickles because I think they will store better and not take up so much space or jars. The plan is to can with more fruit juices instead of too much cane sugar, or other granulated. I am going for more natural. It looks like we will be canning some peaches and pears that way and for jams; raspberry, strawberry, peach, plum (already made some), apple butter, etc. We also want to make some marinara, salsa, applesauce, pickled beets and green beans, and Jay wants to make hot sauce. The main goal is to have something to add to most meals throughout the winter months. I noticed last year, when I didn't can the summer before, we were all missing the supplemental yumminess from canning. Since I don't have a pressure canner, I can pickle, jam and preserve, which is quite fine by me! Happy canning to all of you out there who embark on this delicious adventure.

Katherine is becoming more mature lately, which is great, but sometimes a little hard to believe. She is in dance camp this month on saturdays, which is going great. She will begin art camp with sketching and watercolors on monday morning for 4 consecutive days, 3 hours each day. Kung Fu is going well and I can already see her improvement after being in for only 3 weeks. I call her my Kung Fu Kitty :o)

It is roasting hot outside and I might drag myself to the pool if it didn't require so much effort with the dressing and sunscreen business. We have to be aware of our lotions and shampoos, etc. due to the food issues, so we get the most basic sunscreen, but it does cost more and has to be applied more often. Oh well, it could always be worse. I guess I am just tired of the going and doing, so I think that is why I prefer going out in the autumn. It isn't so hot, the light begins to fade and people draw themselves indoors. I am an off-season sort of person. I like to camp at almost all times BUT summer, hiking makes that list too, I suppose that cycling is one of the only things I don't mind doing in summer. Summer has never been my favorite, not even as a kid. I like the calm, cooler, dark, quiet of autumn, it is my time of rest, or that is the intended plan.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Couple Goals

We have been riding bikes a fair amount lately and now we have a superb trailer to carry things with us, so we haven't got any good reason to not ride places. I once read in a Trek booklet that we ought to ride our bikes to anywhere within five miles of our homes. It is in this radius that we create the most emissions from driving, therefore, biking or walking should be considered as an alternative.

Here is my goal for us as a family; to ride our bikes in every situation, with the exception of church (13 miles, one way) and dance (nearly 10 miles, one way) and any other trips that are fairly far, including, but not limited to, Berry Patch Farms. I think this is perfectly reasonable. Katherine is getting bigger and she has a great bike, plus, she still fits the tag-a-long that attaches to a parent bike to make a tandem.

Another goal I have is to not buy anything new, unless it is jars or lids with rings for canning, until Kat's birthday. For this upcoming paycheck, for which we are waiting and is on a strange cycle this month, therefore unpredictable, I am hoping to not eat out AT ALL, aside from the promised Chipotle for Katherine following her next 2 dance camps, since she dances for 3 hours straight.

All of this may seem fairly simple to many of you out there, but when we are so busy, the convenience begins to take precedence over anything else. In summary, the overall goal is to increase our pocketbook and give ourselves a bit of a workout, getting use out of our very nice cycles.

Well, that's that! Talk to you all soon! I hope to remember to let you know how it all goes!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Whirl Through June and Early July

Good golly, Miss Molly! These past weeks have come and gone in true summer fashion! It has been far too long since my being able to sit with my thoughts and begin to sort them to share. Mostly, everything is a blur of people, food from the garden patch, music, church, bikes, family, and so on and so forth.

It has been a whirlwind and July does not show any signs of slowing any time soon. For the last full week of july, Katherine is signed up for art camp through the city, M-Th, from 9am-12pm. They will work on sketching and watercolors. We have recently gotten her going in Kung Fu, which is M-F, 5:15-6pm, and now, Sat. at 9am. The great thing about the Kung Fu is that it is a flat rate and you can go as many times to the class during the week that you wish, so it is possible to take 6 days! She really likes it and I am glad. Dance has changed schedules this summer to where they are only offering dance camps during july, so we have had a bit of time to acclimate to Kung Fu and she will have her first Irish Stepdancing camp for these next 3 saturdays from 9am-12pm. She is hoping to work on her dance so well that she can test by the end of august into Beginner 2 and get her hard shoes. We shall see.

I was realizing how we seem to be busier now that summer is here, but mostly because they don't offer these sorts of camps and programs during the 'school year', so we have to snatch them up while we can. Since we homeschool, we can manage these funny schedules throughout the year, but they are only really available when the rest of the world has a break in the summer. So far, august should be fairly slow, although I have a way of looking at the calendar and thinking, "Oh look, I do have time!" I have scheduled the friday before her second dance camp to be an 'off' day to do NOTHING, because we have 2 things each day that weekend, PLUS the art camp starts that monday, so if I am not careful, I will end up with one burned out girl a week before her Iron Kids!

Speaking of Iron Kids, she is pretty excited to be involved. It will seem more real when we are closer and getting her things ready, but for now, it is just something that happens in early august. I think she is going to be especially thrilled because Jay's side of the family is planning to come and cheer her on. Both of his parents and Uncle Chris and Aunt Kara will be there, to the best of my knowledge. Being that she is a little Blue girl, the more people she loves who want to come support her, the better. I hope to remember to take pictures, but not so many that I lose sight of watching my baby go for it!

On to Jay! His ride went really well. He made it halfway through the 120 miles over enormous mountains and new when to throw in the towel. What more can you ask? He told me before he got started that just starting the ride would be a success and he rode 57 miles!!! It was a beautiful day and they didn't get rained on, thankfully, and Kat and I had a little date and drive in the mountains. One of the guys from church also did the ride and he caught a ride with us back to his vehicle, bought us dinner and even pitched in for the gas! Thanks, Mr. Tracey (as Kat calls him), that was so thoughtful and nice of you!

While Katherine and I were poking aroudn through the mountains awaiting our next pit stop for the cyclists, we popped into the little outdoor chapel of St. Anna, mother of the Theotokos, in Dumont. What a beautiful day and perfect place to go for a few. We said some prayers, sat by the creekside and watched hummingbirds dive bomb the feeders.

I am sure I have a lot more to report, but this is all I have for now. I may think of some more soon and post it, but this is the best update, for now. X' and O's!