And then there were none…


Slowly over the last few years the blogs I regularly enjoy have gone dark.    The rise of social media as been the death-nell for blogging, forums, and email groups.   I miss the conversations and fellowship that came with each of those older forms.    I’d still prefer blogging, but I don’t seem to have much to say anymore.   More than one former blogger has told me how they often come up with something they’ve been pondering.  But then, after letting it percolate a little they realize it wasn’t all that blogworthy or interesting after all.  This is me too.

Even though Facebook just doesn’t quite cut it I’ve gone over to the dark side and re-joined.  It’s still the same for the most part.   The one change for the better is the addition of “Groups”.  I’ve joined several related to weaving and Orthodoxy (no surprise! LOL).   The one thing I did do, before I posted anything new, was I deleted a slew of “friends”.    With very few exceptions I kept only faraway friends (this includes several blogging friends too, btw) and family on my list.   The rest were jettisoned.   I may have over deleted, but I’m sure that can be easily remedied at  some point.   I still think it’s weird to friend people you see regularly, and I only have one person from my parish on my Facebook feed***.    Even then I still feel strange about it… like I’m looking into her house windows and spying on her.   I’m still uncomfortable with sentences that begin with, “I saw on Facebook that you….”  (Shutter)…. No one else seems bothered by it so I think it’s only my own personal weirdness.

I’m still on GoodReads too.   I don’t review as much as I used to as I’ve started to feel rather inadequate to the task.  Sometimes I’d stare at the screen and the only thing I could come up with was; “I liked it a lot!”    Sheesh.

In any event, if anyone wants to keep in touch, I would like that very much.  Now you know where to find me. :)

***whoops, I just realized I also friended a college kid from church who takes awesome pictures and shares them on FB.

Nunc Dimittis

In honor of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple this past Sunday, this lovely, lovely reading and artwork was sent to me.   It is the poem Dunc Dimittis by Joseph Brodsky and read in Russian by Fr. Alexandr Schmemann.  Below I’ve added the English translation so you can follow along.

When Mary first came to present the Christ Child
to God in His temple, she found — of those few
who fasted and prayed there, departing not from it –
devout Simeon and the prophetess Anna.

The holy man took the Babe up in his arms.
The three of them, lost in the grayness of dawn,
now stood like a small shifting frame that surrounded
and guarded the Child in the dark of the temple.

The temple enclosed them in forests of stone.
Its lofty vaults stooped as though trying to cloak
the prophetess Anna, and Simeon, and Mary –
to hide them from men and to hide them from Heaven.

A chance ray of light struck the crown of the head
of that sleeping Infant, who stirred but as yet
was conscious of nothing. He blew drowsy bubbles;
old Simeon’s arms held him like a stout cradle.

It had been revealed to this upright old man
that he would not die until his eyes had seen
the Son of the Lord. And it thus came to pass. And
he said : ‘ Now, O Lord, lettest thou thy poor servant,

according to thy holy word, leave in peace,
for mine eyes have witnessed thine offspring, this Child –
in him thy salvation, which thou hast made ready,
a light to enlighten the face of all peoples

and carry thy truth to idolatrous tribes;
bring Israel, thy people, its Glory in time.’
Then Simeon paused. A thick silence engulfed them,
and only his echoing words grazed the rafters,

to spin for a moment, with faint rustling sounds,
high over their heads in the tall temple’s vaults,
Like some soaring bird that flies constantly upward
and somehow is caught and cannot return earthward.

A strangeness engulfed them. The silence now seemed
as strange and uncanny as Simeon’s speech.
And Mary, confused and bewildered, said nothing –
so strange had his words been. The holy man, turning

to Mary, continued: ‘Behold, in this Child,
now close to thy breast, is concealed the great fall
and rising again of the many in Israel;
a source of dissension, a sign to be spoken

against. The same weapon which tears at his flesh
shall pierce through thine own soul as well.
Thy wound, Mary, like a new eye, will reveal to
thy sight what in men’s deepest hearts now lies hidden.’

He ended and moved toward the temple’s great door.
Old Anna, bent down with the weight of her years,
and Mary, gazed after him, perfect in silence.
He moved and grew smaller, in size and in meaning,

to these two frail women who stood in the gloom.
As though driven on by the force of their looks,
he strode through the cold empty space of the temple
and moved toward the whitening blur of the doorway.

The stride of his old legs was audibly firm.
He slowed his step slightly when Anna began
to speak, far behind him. But she was not calling
to him; she had started to bless God and praise Him.

The door came still closer. The wind stirred his robe
and touched his cool brow, while the roar of the street,
exploding in life by the door of the temple,
beat stubbornly into old Simeon’s hearing.

He went forth to die. It was not the loud din
of streets that he faced when he flung the door wide,
but rather the deaf-and-dumb fields of death’s kingdom.
He strode through a space that was no longer solid.

The roaring of time ebbed away in his ears.
And Simeon’s soul held the form of the Child –
its feathery crown now enveloped in glory –
aloft, like a torch, pressing back the black shadows,

to light up the path that leads into death’s realm,
where never before until this point in time
had any man managed to lighten his pathway.
The old man’s torch glowed and the pathway grew wider.

February 16, 1972 / trans. by George L. Kline

h/t for the translation: Blowing the Jug –  you can also learn a little bit about Joseph Brodsky there.

A Tale for the Time Being

I was rather discouraged to see that I had only read 24 books in 2013.  Had it really been so few?  I went through my list thinking surely I had forgotten a book or ten.  Surely.

Alas, no.  I really had only read 24 books.  In my defense, four of the books had 500 pages or more.  And I’m a slow reader.   Sadly there was also a lot of easy fluff in there too.

In any event, I want to read (and weave) more and do less internet this year.  I’ll be honest, it will be hard.

Three weeks in and I’m off to a good start with my reading.  I’ve finished four books so far.  Here’s one I particularly enjoyed:

A Tale for the Time Being.   I’m not sure how to describe this book, but it was lush and wonderful.  Two stories rolled into one.  The first is the diary of a young Japanese girl.  She tells the sad tale of her family’s downward spiral after her father lost his job in the US and they all move back to Japan.  It’s the story of depression, bullying, loneliness, and parental neglect.  Woven within is Nao’s 103 year old great-grandmother, Jiro, who is a Buddhist nun.   Jiro brings a calm and peaceful presence to Nao’s lonely and horrible life during a summer stay at the monastery.  The other side is the story of Ruth, a writer living on a remote island off the Washington Coast with her husband.  She longs for her days back in bustling NYC and has never quite felt at home here on this wild, grey island with its constant storms and nosy residents.  Walking on the beach one day she finds Nao’s diary along with other papers and a curious watch, wrapped up in a My Little Kitty lunchbox.  Ruth becomes transfixed by Nao’s life and goes in search for her on the internet in hopes of making contact and saving Nao from her planned suicide.    There were times when I just wanted to walk away from Nao’s sorry and destructive life.   Most of the time she wasn’t a likeable character.  But, the writer still made me care about her too.  I wanted her to succeed in spite of all her failings.  Ruth was a bit easier to warm up to.  She was probably about my age, she was dealing with homesickness and feeling out of place in her community.   The book is a story about finding oneself in spite of all ways we may try to destroy ourselves and our relationships with those closest to us.

4/5 stars

Too much computer time?

“As she stared at the restless pixels on her screen, her impatience grew.  This agitation was familiar,  a paradoxical feeling that grew up inside her when she was spending too much time online, as though some force was at once goading her and holding her back.”  A Tale for the Time Being pg. 227

I found this to be such a great quote.  I don’t know about others, but I know I have had a very similar feeling.  The pull of the internet and the feeling that I need to break free.  That sudden awful feeling of “where did that time go?  It was just 3 o’clock a minute ago.”   It was especially ironic that I read it right after I’d sat down to read after having spent far, far too much surfing the ‘net.  And for what really?

I think I need to add this sign back onto my computer:

I may not always heed it, but hopefully it will give me a moment’s pause from time to time.

For the New Year

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  I’m not even much of a goal maker, but there’s always things I hope/want to do.   Here are some guidelines I need to remember every day and every year:

from Metropolitan Philaret Voznesensky, the New Confessor:

1. Remember, you are a son (daughter) of the Orthodox Church.  These are not empty words.  Remember the commitment this entails.

2. Earthly life is fleeting; one is hardly aware of the swiftness of its passing. Nevertheless, this transient life determines the eternal destiny of your soul.  Do not forget this for a moment.

3. Try to live piously.  Pray to God in church, pray to God at home–fervently, with faith, trusting yourself to God’s will.  Fulfill the holy and saving precepts of the Church, her rules and commandments.  Outside the Church, outside obedience to her, there is no salvation.

4. The gift of words is one of God’s greatest gifts. It ennobles man, lifting him above all other creatures.  But how this gift is now misused by a corrupts humanity!  Safeguard this gift and learn to use it as befits a Christian.  Do not judge, do not speak idly.  Avoid, like fire, bad language and seductive conversation; do not forget the words of our Lord and Savior: By thy words thou shall be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Mt 12:37)  Do not indulge in lying.  Holy Scripture sternly forewarns: The Lord shall destroy all them which speak a lie. (Ps 5:4)

5. Love your neighbor as yourself, according to the Lord’s commandment. Without love there is not Christianity. Remember, Christian love is SELF-SACRIFICING, and not egocentric. Do not miss an opportunity to show love and mercy.

6. Be meek, pure and modest in your thoughts, words and deeds.  Do not imitate the profligate.  Do not take their example, and avoid close acquaintance with them.  Have no unnecessary dealings with unbelievers-unbelief is infectious.  Observe meekness and propriety always and everywhere; avoid becoming contaminated by the shameless habits of today’s world.

7. Fear vanity and pride; run from them. Pride caused the highest and most power angel to be cast down from heaven.  remember, ‘thou art earth and to earth shat thou return…’ Deeply humble yourself.

8. The fundamental task in life is to save one’s soul for eternity.  Keep this as the most essential task, the main concern of your life.  Woe to those whose indifference and neglect bring their souls to eternal ruination.

Source: Orthodox Heritage, Vol 7, issue 09-10, p 32

h/t:  Orthodox Way of Life blog

Not A Creature was Stirring

I found out about the Gregor Demarkian Mysteries series from my cyber-friend Mimi over at GoodReads and I enjoyed the book very much.   Not A Creature Was Stirring is the first in the series.  I’d never heard of this author or character before.    I admit the first thing that piqued my interest was that the main character is Armenian, and his community plays a part in the book.   Gregor Demarkian is a retired FBI agent and recently widowed.  Moving back to his childhood neighborhood has had its challenges but there’s also a strong sense of community, which brings comfort and companionship.  When he is summoned by the local Armenian priest for a meeting he reluctantly, but respectfully, agrees to meet with Father Tibor.    Father Tibor is a messenger for the patriarch of a local “Main Line” family (old money from railroad tycoons).  All Gregor has to do is attend a Christmas dinner at the home of reclusive Robert Hanniford, and Mr. Hanniford will donate a briefcase full of money to the church.    Before Gregor can even meet his host on Christmas day, he is murdered and Gregor is pulled into the investigation by one of his former proteges.    The usual suspects are a handful of disgruntled and dysfunctional offspring of the greedy and cruel family patriarch.  There’s also a string of dead bodies that one comes to expect from a book of this nature.  The telling of the story is what sets it apart.   As with many in this genre, the mystery is really a vector for the creation of new and interesting characters, historical events, or places.  In this case, the mystery was pretty good, albeit a bit obvious.   What I really enjoyed was Gregor Demarkian along with the Armenian community that surrounds him.  I hope we see more of him and his friends in subsequent books.  That will be the reason for going back for more.

Forefeast of the Nativity

I thought this was lovely.  An animated Christmas Story told with icons and the Advent Troparion (hymn)  sung by Fr. Apostolos Hill.

Definitely worth a look.

“Today the Virgin cometh unto the cave
to give birth to the Word who was born before all ages.
Begotten in a manner that defies description.
Rejoice therefore O universe if thou should hear and glorify
with the angels and shepherds.
Glorify Him Who by His own will
has become a newborn babe,
and Who is our God before all ages.”

Troparion for the Forefeast of the Nativity

This Sunday is also the Sunday of the Forefathers in which we remember those who awaited His death and Resurrection.   We also remember the Prophets and Prophetesses, most especially Daniel and the Three Youths.

The Weekend in Pictures

Today I have  a quiet day at home alone.   I’m making soap and doing some Christmas weaving while listening to Advent music.   Anonymous 4 still makes it to the top of the list.

Our Thanksgiving Weekend began on Wednesday.  We had all the kids with us for celebrating our son’s birthday….

Games after our Feast:


more games later in the weekend.  BTW, This is a really FUN game:

more Phase 10 – with a much more manageable group size.

And general goofing off most of the weekend:

Sunday saw college kids preparing to go back to their respective colleges.  It was a bit of a sad day.  We also celebrated the 3rd Sunday in Advent for those on the New Calendar.

Advent has now begun for all Christians, East and West, Old and New Calendar…..

May your Advent be Blessed!

Friday Five

It’s been a while… and I’m still not sure what to do about blogging.  I keep the blog around because I wonder if my writing slump will reverse at some point.

We ended the summer with the whole family gathering to celebrate our son’s wedding.   It was just such a happy day, and as I look back on the photos , I cry a little remembering it.  Here is a link to some of the pictures.


**photo by Kate Ann Photography


I’ve been on a bit of dystopian kick lately.  I just finished Wool and it was a great page-turner.    Wool is actually five short-stories rolled into one.  If you choose to get it, buy the Wool Omnibus version.  The first story is stand-alone, and I had actually read it about a year ago when I got it as one of the free Kindle offers.  But, it is background of the larger story being told in the Onmibus.

Wool takes place a couple of hundred years after some terrible world-wide catastrophy.  We are never told what it is exactly, but nuclear fallout is hinted at.   Humanity is now living in an underground silo, with IT and law-order near the top and mechanics & grunt workers at the bottom.   There’s a power struggle going on between the powers at top and those who live in the “down-below”.   All computers have been wiped of their history dating back one generation.   When Sheriff Holston’s wife begins to unravel some old, defunct computer programs, a kernel of gossip begins in their minds,  “Was there a civil-war in the silo? What if IT is hiding something?  What if they’ve been lying to us?”  To speak of such  things is automatic death sentence, where the criminals are sent “outside” to a swift and painful death.  Her death sets off a series of events with grave consequences for the insulated and safe haven for thousands of lives.

I’m taking a bit of a break from the series to read a fun mystery, but will definitely be finishing it soon.

I also listened to Don Quixote.  What a fun book.  yes, it’s long.  Very long… and repetitive.  But, the ending was a bit of a surprise (don’t want to spoil it for anyone) and I was a bit sad to say goodbye to that likable, kindhearted knight.    I kept wondering throughout the book if the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was somehow inspired by Don Quixote.  It’s not exactly the same, but there are similarities.    One thing I found interesting is how, after 500 years things haven’t changed much in our world.


I’ve been doing a lot of weaving lately.  I’m having trouble keeping up with my to-do list.  I made several shawls in huck lace with bamboo yarn.   This one I’ve donated to our church bazaar for their mini-raffle.

The blue and purple scarves were made for friends of my daughter and the variegated one is for my new daughter-in-law.

here’s a baby blanket I just pulled off the loom today.  As you can see it’s edges aren’t even finished up yet.


I was also able to take a one day weaving class on finishing.  It was a great experience and we did a lot of different finishing techniques.  Some I knew and several I didn’t know, and with all of them I learned a few simple short-cuts to make the process easier.


Three days a week I have this cute little one with me.


It’s been an adjustment getting back into the swing of having a baby with me during the day, but it’s certainly been a happy adjustment.

Welcome to the world little one….

Our grandson, Daniel, was born in the early morning hours of June 19th.  He came in at 8lbs 9oz and with lots of dark hair, just like his mama when she was born.


Mama and baby are doing quite well and he’s nursing like a champ.   Everyone is in love…

If you click on the photo, it will take you to my photo stream at Flickr.

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