Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peace on Earth, good will to all men

Today is a routine day in Chancery Court. Some days are good, and some are not. But in a routine day, if we are fortunate, peace may be had, if only for a little while. Rarely are issues clear-cut; but in cases where the issues are clear-cut, peace may be had.

Monday, December 8, 2014

More than midway through the fast

And once again, I am re-reading Fr. Thomas Hopko's The Winter Pascha and finding it immensely useful. The book is well-structured for brief daily readings, and highlights both the liturgical worship and the language of the prayers of the Advent period. In particular, Fr. Tom spends a great deal of time highlighting the parallels between Advent and Great Lent, without falling into the trap of type and fulfillment language that obfuscates the real differences between the two joyous fasts.

Of particular interest in this regard is Chapter 28, entitled Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Fr. Tom makes a careful note of the difference in Eastern and Western theology regarding the Twelve Days of Christmas at the very beginning of this chapter (the East focusing on the Baptism of Christ, and the West on the Adoration of the Magi), before carefully analyzing the various hymns of Christmas Eve and Christmas focusing on the gifts of the Magi.

I haven't attended the Christmas Eve Vigil in English in years, and so I find this chapter is a wonderful reminder of the beautiful anticipation of Christ's birth the Magi experienced. The troparia from Compline of Christmas Eve include these two beautiful hymns:

The riddles of the soothsayers
And the diviner Balaam are now fulfilled.
For a star has dawned from Jacob,
Leading the Magi, Persian kings bringing gifts,
To the Sun of Glory.

The error of Persia has ceased,
For the stargazers, kings of the East,
Bring gifts to Christ the King of all at His birth:
Gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Bless Him, O Children, and praise Him, O priests,
Exalt Him, O people, throughout the ages.

The second hymn in particular echoes the refrain of the Song of the Three Youths, who figure prominently in the feast of the Fathers of the Old Testament: "Praise the Lord, sing and exalt Him above all the ages!"

The next hymn Fr. Tom refers to is from Matins of Nativity, and continues the theme of the pagans of the East, who symbolize the Gentiles, coming to seek Christ, and also contains further reference to the Old Testament Fathers:

The daughter of Babylon
Once led David's children captive from Zion,
Whom she had taken with the sword.
But now she sends her own children,
The Magi bearing gifts,
To beg the Daughter of David in whom God came to dwell.
Therefore let us raise up the song:
Let the whole creating bless the Lord,
And exalt Him above all forever.

Fr. Tom continues on to discuss the symbolism of the three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is taken by the Church to symbolize Christ's kingship over Israel, as the Son of David. Frankincense is the sign of Christ's divinity, as frankincense is used for worship only, and only God is worthy of worship. Finally, myrrh is the solemn sign of Christ's coming crucifixion and resurrection.

In closing Chapter 28, Fr. Tom highlights the importance of the Magi as signs of the conversion of the Gentiles to the worship of God, by quoting two hymns, the first from compline on the Eve of the feast, and the second from compline on the feast:

The kings, the first fruits of the gentiles,
Bring Thee gifts at Thy birth in Bethlehem
From a mother who knew no travail.
With myrrh they point to Thy death,
With gold, to Thy royal power,
With frankincense to the preeminence of Thy divinity.

When the Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judah,
Magi coming from the East
Worshipped God made man.
And eagerly opening their treasures,
They offered Him precious gifts:
Refined gold, as to the King of the ages;
Frankincense, as to the God of all;
Myrrh they offered to the Immortal One
As one three days dead.
Come all nations let us worship Him
Who was born to save our souls.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ever wondered what monks know about marriage?

From a homily of St. John Chrysostom on marriage:

You have heard how important obedience is; you have praised and marveled at Paul, how he welds our whole life together, as we would expect from an admirable and spiritual man. You have done well. But now listen to what else he requires from you; he has not finished with his example. Husbands, he says, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church. You have seen the amount of obedience necessary; now hear about the amount of love necessary. Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse. Even though you undergo all this, you will never have done anything equal to what Christ has done. You are sacrificing yourself for someone to whom you are already joined, but He offered Himself up for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way, then, as He honored her by putting at His feet one who turned her back on Him, who hated, rejected, and disdained Him as tie accomplished this not with threats, or violence, or terror, or anything else like that, but through His untiring love; so also you should behave toward your wife. Even if you see her belittling you, or despising and mocking you, still you will be able to subject her to yourself, through affection, kindness, and your great regard for her. There is no influence more powerful than the bond of love, especially for husband and wife. A servant can be taught submission through fear; but even he, if provoked too much, will soon seek his escape. But one's partner for life, the mother of one's children, the source of one's every joy, should never be fettered with fear and threats, but with love and patience. What kind of marriage can there be when the wife is afraid of her husband? What sort of satisfaction could a husband himself have, if he lives with his wife as if she were a slave, and not with a woman by her own free will? Suffer anything for her sake, but never disgrace her, for Christ never did this with the Church.

- A selection from On Marriage and Family Life by St. John Chrysostom, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1986.

This is powerful stuff. My cousin likes to joke that his wife has the easier part. Too often I see marriages that disintegrated from fear and despair. The text from Ephesians (5:20-33) that is read in every Orthodox wedding is often regarded as being full of dread requests for wives to obey their husbands; but if you read it carefully, the bulk of the text that the Church gives us focuses on husbands loving their wives, and wives loving their husbands. The marriage is the tool of salvation for the married, as monasticism is the tool of salvation for the monastic.

Original link: http://www.roca.org/OA/121/121b.htm

Sunday, July 20, 2014

OFFICIAL WIFE: Defeat the Plastic Bagging

This amazing thing happened:

Alex has even started either drinking a cup every morning or eating some cold cereal. I didn't even ask him.

I make rectangles of yarn that I intend for this or that but really get too infested with dog hair, and I undo them so much that I hardly make any progress. I just threw several away. But. I sat down and crocheted a circular thing. It's off-white. I want to crochet a long scarlet airy fairy thing around it to make a table runner, but I got bored with that so I thought I'd make... a .... SECOND .... circular thing. The off-white one I just did what came natural one evening, but I wondered what use a circular thing might be so I headed to Pinterest

I'm more of an oral tradition crocheter. I've seen crochet patterns since I've been exposed to the internet, but everything I've actually done has been shown to me.

Omigosh--- I'm crochet illiterate!!


So this "fifteen minute project" took me several days. I spent --oh-- half an hour transcribing and researching vocabulary words and five minutes of crocheting a day. This is my first butterfly:

My photographer seems to have been aiming for my head instead of the project so you can see my roots and several white hairs but not a straight on view. Tsk... tsk... tsk..

From left to right is the order I'm making the butterflies. The yellow/white and yellow/yellow-begun are for very stylish Non-Ortho friend who loves yellow. I turned the yellow/white one into a flower because I got messed up by the different weights of yarn. I also made her an yellow/goldenrod butterfly.

The reason I include chapstick in this photo is as an ambassador for young women. It is chapstick. But it's got a shine and a mirror on the cap. Look for Lip Vibrance if this battle reaches your ground. Tastes like strawberries.

I made some pop-tarts, with all the fervor of a three weeks absence of a recipe project! It used an oat and brown rice flour that I made in our spice grinder with homemade 100% fruit blueberry filling. I ate three. Alex ate at least two. I gave Non-Ortho friend the rest when Alex remained sick.-- and you can bet your beeswax candles I'll be experimenting more with some home ground oat flour.

Electronic and Western.


Monday, June 2, 2014

OFFICIAL WIFE: Laundry, How Exciting!

"Wow! We finally finished putting up laundry!"

"Only to get ready to do it again next week!"

After a moment I said, "You do know how some define insanity..." Laundry can drive you insane. Bewarned. Stawp. Bathing. NOW.

You see that trail up above? I'd like to say that I don't use an electric dryer, but no... That's exactly what it looks like; it's a dog run.
I've always wanted a laundry line. As a kid, I tried to make them. Some lines worked for a bit, but I just didn't have the know-how and resources to make something substantial. My parents were not in favor and viewed it as something akin to tent making-- which my brother and I did as well. I eventually convinced my dad that I really wanted a clothesline, that I'd hang it all up (I already did the lion's share of folding.), and that it'd save him money.

We talked about it again and again. He wanted me to pick a spot, then he'd set some poles in concrete. I was firmly against putting concrete in the ground. It reminded me of nothing except setting up a mailbox. It seemed so permanent. He eventually explained that the reason my lines fell down is because they didn't have this strong infrastructure. He could make me a line, but it'd be no better than mine unless I let him use concrete. I thought. I weighed it. I wanted a clothesline, but the responsibility of permanently marring the family land was greater. So it never happened. It's a case of if only I knew then what I know now as I've now helped take down and set up a pipe and concrete line. They're not so very permanent after all. ;)

Anyhoo-- I was very excited to see that Alex's house had poles for a laundry line! He had dug one up while working on the sewer system, but I eventually convinced him to set it back in and string me a few lines.

I used it well one summer. We both use it sporadically now. We mostly use it for stuff that would take a bajillion million tillion watts-- rugs, towels, comforters. I've been using it every weekend since Spring. It's one more excuse to move, one more reason to get some vitamin D. If you've been reading, you know I've been all about getting my vitamins the past several months.
wet laundry

No, that is not THE rug. That's a rug I've had since 2004 when I moved to Hattiesburg. THE rug is prettier.

So... to business...

Is your trigger finger ready?

Anchor two T-shaped bits of material (whatever's handy, metal will last) as you would a mailbox. Tie strong nylon ropes across.  Just start at the back of your property and work towards the house. I have three lines. Closer together means longer drying time.

Gather round. Gather round. Ima gonna tell ya what would take all of five minutes to figger out.

Ahem... Intimates... Since I live in a city and have neighbors, I do big flat things like towels on the back as a screen. Then... Ahem... 'intimates' go in the middle-middle.... in case some of the left or right neighbors are looking, I put something innocuous on the ends. Then, I put mostly big things on the front line facing the house.

Strategy. *nods*

Yah! Woo-hah~!
It's kinda romantical.

I don't know that you could call that middle one white. It needs to be cut up into rags.

I also make my own laundry detergent.

I forgot to wash whites last week so I hung a row catty-cornered. Do you say kitty-cornered and catty-cornered?--or something else? I've heard and read many varieties on this phrase
There are also a number of wild strawberries behind the clothesline.

Strange; isn't it? How when one knows what won's looking for, and where one might look for it, won tends to find onedrous things!

I've transplanted several into two baggies. Once I'm sure they'll make it, I plan to send them to my local forester, who helped me identify the plant.

This is what romaine going to seed looks like.

A close-up of the romaine flower... with an ickle wittle mite.

the strawberry patch (Birdie dug up part of my border.) the lettuce patch, and the clothesline [EDIT: And the youngest blueberry bush]

I have several gardenia bushes. The ones in one place are ending their bloom while the ones in another are beginning. They smell terrific.

Love and Cookies,


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

OFFICIAL WIFE: Dietary Iron by Calories

By 100g cal %Fe Cal/%Fe
thyme 276 686.7 0.40
parsley 276 543.7 0.51
marjoram 271 459.5 0.59
spearmint, fresh 44 65.9 0.67
thai tea, loose Pantai Brand 250 300 0.83
dill 253 271 0.93
cumin 375 369 1.02
cinnamon 261 211.5 1.23
oregano 306 244.4 1.25
bay leaves 313 228.9 1.37
basil 27 17.6 1.53
turmeric 354 230.1 1.54
black pepper 255 160.3 1.59
anise 337 205.3 1.64
oysters 125 62.5 2.00
sage 315 156.2 2.02
rosemary 331 162.5 2.04
blackstrap molasses 200 95.2 2.10
baby spinach 41.2 19.6 2.10
paprika 289 131.1 2.20
romaine 14 6.1 2.30
Japanese snack seaweed 320 120 2.67
turnip greens 23.6 8.5 2.78
cocoa 229 77 2.97
arugula 25 8.1 3.09
coriander 298 91 3.27
frozen spinach 28 8.4 3.33
chicken liver pate
plain pumpkin
tomatoes 32 7.2 4.44
brussels sprouts 36 6.7 5.37
Boca burger 105 17.5 6.00
cayenne 318 43.3 7.34
red lentils 360 40 9.00
shrimp 119 13.2 9.02
Persimmon 127 14 9.07
cucumber 13 1.4 9.29
butter beans 116.6 12.1 9.64
broccoli, frozen 29.4 2.4 12.25
beef jerky 410 30.1 13.62
beef 93% lean 142.8 8.9 16.04

Anyone for curried greens? :P I'm definitely amping up the spices in my cooking!

Friday, May 23, 2014

OFFICIAL WIFE: Plant Sources for Dietary Iron, Calcium

When I was younger I went through a period where I wanted to sleep all the time so they took me to the doctor.

PRESCRIPTION: Eat a plate of fried chicken livers every Sunday after church.

Yes, that's actually what the doctor said. He said I could put ketchup on them, if I wanted, and told my mom to ask for a certain guy in Big Star's meat department if she couldn't find any. Liver has an odd texture so we ended up pureeing it and adding it to meatloaf, cornbread dressing, beanie weanies, etc.

Most of my life, I've been iron deficient, but other than that episode, it's not been a big deal.

Boy did I get bad off towards the end of Lent. It got so bad because we didn't think anything was wrong. I was just tired. Then, we put all the symptoms together... Since then, I've been on an iron consumption CRUSADE! I've learned a lot so I'll share. :)

Personal Considerations: I'm obese so all my options need to be low calorie. I'm also not eating commercially processed grains (pasta, cereal, sandwich bread) and am generally tending toward low carb (broccoli, apples, edamame, green beans, salads) options instead of higher carbs (potatoes, corn, bananas, grains). I don't want to spend a lot of money. I don't like pills (loop back a sentence).

To think-- Alex used to be the picky one!

From previous research, I know that thyme is a good source of iron that is very low cal. One teaspoon of thyme yields 9.6%DRV iron and is 3.9cal!
In a previous dieting episode so as to meet my protein and iron goals, I had eight egg whites and three tablespoons of thyme for dinner... No amount of hot sauce can make that pleasant. As an easy way to overall increase your iron consumption, though, this is a useful fact. Sprinkle it on eggs. Put it in your soup. No calories left today and need iron? Sautee sliced mushrooms with thyme and red pepper flake-- but add a skosh* of olive oil if you can spare it. You can even sprinkle it on the mayo/Laughing Cow side of a sandwich or on luncheon meat roll-ups.

The next good source is greens. Baby spinach salads were a go-to: 88g (dinner plate full) baby spinach has 36.2cal and 17.3% DRV Iron. I used a dressing of 1T apple cider vinegar+1/4t red pepper flake+1t olive oil and topped it with either 118g (4oz+) grilled chicken** and 3g (1/2T+) freshly grated parmesan OR 180g (1/2 large) cucumber sliced with a side of tofu slab grilled on cast iron griddle. In addition to fresh spinach, I also added cooked spinach to my diet. Breakfast this week has been:

1 egg
101g (0.4c+) egg substitute
1t thyme
1/3 can spinach, drained
154cal 20pro 34%Fe 18%Ca

I did find something *!NEW!* this go round. Some Thai tea has iron! I just happened to be browsing my favorite bulk and exotics store (upcoming post devoted to this store), when I came upon this thai tea which gives 25%DRV for 15cal. I was all excited about this. It smells divine and tastes pretty good, too. When I ran out, though, they didn't have that brand. I looked through the other offerings which were mostly milk and sugar, but then I found this thai tea, which is actually much cheaper at $4.99/lb. One tablespoon is 5cal and yields 6% iron. Alex brews two tablespoons in a 24oz Tervis cup for me every morning with two tablespoons of sucralose (e.g. Splenda). This means breakfast is 164cal 20pro 46%Fe 18%Ca. That gives me a good start, but you'll see below that I'm still struggling a bit.

I ran out of cooked spinach Thursday, and as of Friday I now have neither cooked nor fresh so I'm adding one cup of turnip greens to my dinner. We have the Farmer's Market on Thursday here, and there were several greens to choose from. Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Cooking on cast iron pans also increases iron intake. Oh, and I've found the solution to my consistently low calcium intake. Silk Light Original Almond Milk:
It has fewer calories and MORE calcium than skim milk! --and look at that B12. I'm drinking one cup after work each day.

A tofu steak also has 94cal 13%Fe 16%Ca. The other thing I've learned is that modest amounts of iron do add up to fill in the last of the gap.
  • 9cal romaine leaves to separate the chicken curry and cantaloupe in my lunch box(or for a lettuce wrap)=3%
  • 82cal cantaloupe=3%
  • 24cal of cucumbers on my salad=3%
While I've been diligent about increasing my iron intake since before Lent ended, I've just now started tracking my meals again. This has also helped me really hone in on that 100% goal this week:

I've also discovered a new snack! For 14cal you get a small potato chip bag's worth of seasoned seaweed along with 3g protein and 3%Fe! You can also get this in packaging that metes them out three 3"X1" strips at a time.

Hoping This is Helpful,

Practical Woman

*From the Japanese sukoshi meaning 'a little, somewhat' inherited as US slang during the Korean War era.
**One might think meat is a good source of iron. Not really... That 118g of chicken is 143cal yielding only 1%Ca and5%Fe-- though 27g of protein.

PS: I'm sending the stars and moons to church this week. Should be tasty! ;)