Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bah. Humbug. :-(

Permit me a bit of grumbling here. Just -- be here for me, OK?

I'm upset. A friend of mine knows someone who has apparently fallen on hard times, and is asking people to buy a holiday product from this person. So far so good. It's just -- I have the sense of a whole lot that has gone unsaid.

I mean, the situation that this person finds himself in, is not something that strikes out of the blue. Let's just say that it involves a legal action, one that is so difficult to execute that there has to be a phenomenal amount of evidence, accumulated over a long period of time, for that action to be executed. (An example: Someone locally was recently evicted from a property that was not only a neighborhood eyesore, but also a health hazard, not only to the resident but to neighborhood schoolchildren (the property was across the street from an elementary school). The length of time involved in the eviction? Seven years.)

The situation that my friend's friend finds himself in is similar. It sounds as if the person's financial straits are dire. But -- dire doesn't just hit, it builds over a period of months. In that time, wasn't it possible for this person to contact family members for help? I'm thinking of the many relatives who stayed with my late Aunt Mary over a period of about fifteen years. Nothing was said, none of us young folk knew that these people were homeless and would have been out on the street but for my aunt's generosity. They stayed for an average of three years with her, finding work, then finding homes of their own; in a couple of cases, we never heard from these people after they moved on. But my point is, they called on family for help, and that help was forthcoming.

So, why is this person soliciting help on the internet?! Does he not have family to whom he could turn? Is he so on the outs with family that they wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole? Why are you bothering complete strangers for help?

As I said, I have the sense of a whole lot that has gone unsaid. And without those blanks being filled in -- I feel used.

Thank you for the shoulder to cry on. We now return you to your regularly scheduled revelries.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven, Day 3

Today's Challenge:

1) Refresh Your Spirit (5 minutes)

I actually got to sing Vespers last night, and Matins this morning. I hate when I sleep late, and have to miss my prayer rule -- the day never goes as well as when I get up a bit earlier and get this done.

The blog I cribbed this idea from (Crystal Paine's blog -- see down a couple of posts) was encouraging participants to list three things we're thankful for. In my case:

1. Being Orthodox
2. Having a good roof over my head. It's small, but we raised two kids in it, and it still does us well.
3. Having an absolutely sterling husband, who loves me and puts up with a mind-numbing job to provide said roof over our heads.

2) Take Time to Plan (5 minutes)

Ahem. I can either pray, or plan. ;-) That said, at least I have dinner planned: Spaghetti with shrimp sauce. This is cheating, though, since this is our usual Wednesday dinner.

However, I'll take the challenge and share my to-do list, such as it is:

1. Bredenbeck's Bakery in Philadelphia sent my son's Christmas cookies to our house. Every year since they were born, we've celebrated St. Nicholas Day with the kids by putting cookies in their shoes; the year Chris moved out to PA, I was wondering how to continue this tradition when I came across Bredenbeck's online, and they actually ship real German cookies. So Chris has not missed his cookies at all, until this year -- and he won't this year, either, if I have anything to say about it. I'll ship 'em overnight express. So that's my first item.

2. The "Maintenance Required" light has come on in my car, and won't shut off. I suspect it's because when I had the oil changed last week, the people who changed it forgot to turn off the blinking "Maintenance Required" light, and now it's on permanently; but I do have to check with the dealership about this.

3. I need to pay some bills. :-(

4. And I need to study for a Russian exam that takes place tomorrow. We don't have finals in these classes; we get one test that covers each chapter, and then go on to the next one. So this test will finish out Chapter 11. I'm not sure if there will be time to cover Chapter 12 completely before all our classes wind up, though.

3) Do Something! (15 minutes or so)

Quoting from Crystal's blog now:

Today we're going to focus on the laundry and laundry room. Your goal by the end of today is to have all of your laundry finished, folded, and put away.

Uh-huh. In my dreams, maybe. What I can do in this area is wash a load of towels and hang them out on the drying rack so that the house gets some moisture into the atmosphere. But folded and put away?? That waits for tomorrow, when the stuff is dry (and I get to hang out a new load of laundry!).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

One More T'ing... Columbo used to say.

This past Sunday, our Hierarch, Metropolitan Methodios, came to visit our parish. (Which is its own story: He called our priest on Monday and said, "Oh, by the way, I have an opening in my calendar for this Sunday, and I'd like to come visit." Gulp.) Anyway, he came, he saw, whether or not he conquered the choir is still up for grabs ;-) -- but the point is, he preached the most wonderful sermon. I've never heard a sermon like this.

For one thing, he cited the text of this past Sunday's Gospel, the story of the blind man by the side of the road who asks Jesus for his sight. The Metropolitan said that the Church gives us this Gospel at this time of year because we are all in darkness, stumbling around like the blind man, and we should remember that the Light of Christ is coming to us.

But the other thing he said that really grabbed my attention was that the blind man cried out, and Christ -- God -- stopped walking and paid attention to him. And the Metropolitan said, When we pray, we stop God in His tracks, and He listens to us.

Think about that.

When we pray, we stop God in His tracks. And He listens to us.

Holy cow.

Making Your Home a Haven 2

Since I was out of the house at 9:30 today and didn't get home till 4:30, there wasn't too much I was able to do on this front. Today's effort was getting the breakfast dishes done before I left the house, and making the beds. This is more of a triumph than ordinary tidy housewives might think: There have been days when the dishes didn't get washed till half an hour before dh came through the door, and as for making beds...well...

I love the sight of a made-up bed, so I never thought twice about it until dh asked me not to make up his bed -- "It's easier to get into when it's left unmade."

This is the same person who comes from the family that never put anything away in the kitchen because, "We'll just have to get it out again." And I seriously wonder why my house always looks like a bomb hit it?!

So the bed stayed unmade, for a few years, actually. Once a week I'd change the sheets, but that was it.

Then we had the house blessed. Our new priest decided that a good way for him to meet the parish would be to bless everyone's houses over the summer, and since ours hadn't been done at Theophany (the weather was crappy), I invited him over to do that. And to have the house blessed -- you have to have tidy rooms.

And dh discovered that, wonder of wonders, it's kind of nice to sleep in a made-up bed.

So that is my contribution to making this home a haven for today. Actually, pretty much every day, since the house got blessed, but since I was out of the house all day, I decided this would have to count for half a brownie point. :-)

(The chief reason I was out for so long is that I went to confession. My spiritual father's parish is 40 miles away. 40 miles over roads that are not entirely clear of ice and snow is, um, interesting. But I really needed to go to confession. Now to put the results into practice -- I need to go sing Vespers.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven

OK, I have to confess that I don't know how many of my readers this will actually apply to, but the idea, which I got from Emma's blog, seems to be to come up with one or more things you can do every day to make your home a haven for yourself and your family, then post about it on your blog. The woman who first came up with the idea (Crystal Paine) cleaned her front entryway, made herself a cup of tea, and spent time with her Bible. Me...


I made a nice beef stew for my husband.

Hey, it's been snowing all day, and he's been alternately digging out the driveway and tele-working. So I just tossed some beef, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes in the crockpot and let 'er rip. I must admit that the smell is driving me crazy! But I will be content with my crab cakes and rice.

I also worked on my cross stitch, which was very soothing and meditative, and made up (I hope) for all the ranting and raving I did when dh informed me that his father wants to come back to living with us. NO. Plain and simple. I finally told dh, "It's him or me," knowing that dh would know I was at least half joking (and half not!!!). There is simply no way we could maneuver a 95-year-old man, with his fragile bones, down a flight of steps to get to and from his various doctors' appointments. To say nothing of the fact that he won't tell us if something is bothering him -- he won't tell the people at the nursing home, either, but they know what to look for, and we don't -- and oh, yeah, I can just see me maneuvering him into and out of the shower. He certainly can't do it on his own.

So maybe my chief contribution to Making My Home a Haven was putting my foot down about Dear Old Dad. ;-)