Spring Garden!

I think I can declare this year’s garden PLANTED!  Now it’s just a matter of watering,  fertilizing, weeding and eating.  The winter was very dry at first and I was afraid we’d have water rationing this summer,  but we had a rainier than usual spring so I am optimistic that I can water the garden without any worries.

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The hens are doing well, although we had a foxglove incident that makes me shudder to think about.  I always have foxglove in the yard,  which as we all know,  is quite poisonous.  However,  none of my animals ever ate it, not even Mrs. Rabbit,  so I figured the animals were exercising their God-given common sense.  But maybe chickens don’t have this feature…   Anyway,  I looked one morning and the foxglove showed definite signs of some serious nibbling.  And Flo was acting oddly-  not eating and wanting to sleep.  But, thank the Lord,  they all recovered and we put a fence around the foxglove to prevent future mishaps.  It’s so easy to make a dumb mistake that can kill your animals.  We generally get three eggs each day,  sometimes four.   During Lent I froze a lot of eggs by blending them and storing them in small containers but the results are not very appetizing.  I’ve been feeding them to Lilly the Farm Dog.

Farm Dog at Work

Commemoration of the Departed

Tomorrow is the day the Church commemorates the departed faithful,  with an all-night vigil tonight.   I will confess that I didn’t use to go to this type of service but I have made to myself what is probably a rash vow that I would try to attend every service on the schedule.   I have missed so much by just attending Liturgy on Sunday morning.

Just two more “meat days”  and then it’s Cheesefare Week.  I’ve got to squeeze a hamburger in there somewhere.

Advent is Almost Upon Us

This article explains the Nativity Fast,  which for New Calendar believers begins this Monday,  November 15.   Here’s some guidelines.

This article suggests that the Eastern Orthodox way of celebrating Nativity (Christmas) may prevent the holiday blues.  The idea is that the world is in darkness and a kind of famine until the Light of Christ burst into the world at the Nativity and this famine of spirit is paralleled by a sort of a physical famine of body.

Meanwhile,  I discovered these seaweed snacks!  They are low-calorie, vegan and an addictive alternative to potato chips.  Get ’em at Trader Joe’s.

Today is the 13th day of VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo.

Today the Church commemorates Apostles Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles, and Aristobulus of the Seventy.

Lenten Orange Poppy Seed Cake

This is a very simple recipe that  produces a cake that is not fancy but is very satisfying.  I always take this to Lenten potlucks.

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the dry ingredients;  combine the wet ingredients;  mix it all up.
Spoon the thickish batter into a greased pie pan or something of a similar size.
Decorate the top with dried cranberries and nuts,  if you like.
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
Give it the toothpick test for doneness;  it might need to bake a little more.

This recipe comes from  Secrets of Fat-Free Baking by Sandra Woodruff.  The original recipe called for baking it in a loaf pan and calling it “bread,”  but I like cake better.

This is day 4 of  VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo.

Today the Church remembers the Seven Holy Youths of Ephesus.

Glory to God!

AN ASSORTMENT OF POTTED HERBS

This is the best time of the year!  Lent is over,  Pascha was glorious and now we are in that basking-in-the-sun period of BBQs and gardens.

We did so-so for Lent.  I can either pray or fast- I have trouble keeping up with both.  A monastic friend reminded me of the words of Christ when His disciples couldn’t cast out the demon.  He said “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting,”  So the two together are important,  but difficult for me.  We did well with the dietary restrictions (the easy part) but I was neglectful of prayer at times (the most important part.)    So I strained at gnats and ate a few metaphorical camels.   (Soy camels, in this case.)

But I did come out of Lent with the determination to delete FarmVille,  which I did.  No offense to any of you FV fans,  but it was a total time-waster.   I was looking at my neighbor’s garden the other day.  It is exquisite,  while mine is still a jungle.   It was obvious to me that my neighbor has spent the winter doing real gardening while I spent the winter doing virtual gardening on  FarmVille.

Nevertheless, this year’s garden is well under way.  The patio, with its pots of flowers and vegetables,  has become a pleasant haven for eating and reading.  The two side gardens are still very weedy,  but progress is being made.   From last year we still have carrots, onions, chard and beets.  Time to start fresh with squash, peppers, corn and lettuce.   The foxgloves and sweet peas are beautiful!

Closed for Lent

See you after Pascha.

Alms Giving, the “Deserving Poor,” and Octuplets

john_chrysostom_russian2 Lent will be here in a few weeks- tomorrow is already the Sunday of the Prodigal Son! This is the time of year when we are preparing to quiet down and concentrate on the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and alms giving.

Before the days of government assistance, the disabled poor lived on alms. They were called beggars back then. We call them “homeless” or “panhandlers” now. What should our attitude be towards these people? Are they deserving of our help? Oftentimes, we pass them by, consoling ourselves with excuses:

  • He looks like a drunk- he’ll just spend my dollar on alcohol
  • She looks like a drug addict- she’ll just buy drugs with my dollar
  • He’s been standing on that corner for weeks. He should get a job
  • She has a dog- why should my dollar go to buy dog food?
  • I contribute to the Salvation Army. He can go there for a meal
  • My sister hired some homeless people once and they never showed up for work
  • The Bible says “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”
  • I have my own problems- I can’t be giving money away to strangers
  • I tithe at church- I can’t be expected to give more
  • The government should be taking care of these people.
  • My cousin told me that these people make fortune panhandling. It’s just a scam

I once read a sermon by St. John Chrysostom about withholding alms from the “undeserving poor.” I wish I could find it now, but I’ve misplaced it. The gist of the sermon was this: Who are we to judge whether or not a person is worthy of our charity? Is he not created in the Image of God? Are we ourselves worthy of God’s grace? And who knows if our gift might be the very act of kindness that turns the person around. Who knows?

I had the experience a few years ago of riding to a major American city in a car-full of Christian ladies. All along the way, we listened to Christian music and talked about the things of God- what our churches were doing, what Christian books we were reading, etc. When we got to our venue and parked the car, the homeless man on the sidewalk was completely and totally ignored, as if he were invisible. Our group hustled right past him, as if he were of no more significance than the trash that littered the street.

In the spirit of this post, I want to commend the ladies of the women’s ministry of a southern California Calvary Chapel who are volunteering to help care for the children of the woman who recently gave birth to octuplets. Most people don’t think the babies’ mother is “deserving,” and I agree, she’s problematic! These church ladies are going to be very frustrated in the days to come, I think. But God bless them and give them strength! They were able to look past the “undeservedness” and are showing the love of Christ to this family. People will mock them for being duped and being taken advantage of, but agape is not without risk.

Edited to add: In a Jordanville Prayerbook list of daily sins that we might need to repent of, there is this line: “… or if a beggar hath come to me and I disdained him…” (page 45)

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