Friday, September 29, 2006

Last new feature--book report

This is the last new feature I'm introducing. Each month I'll review one book. This month, King of Shadows.

King of Shadows
By Susan Cooper

I had read this book years ago and decided that my good memory of it was worth going back and trying it again. I was right. This is one extremely well researched, thought out, and written book.

Nat Field is a young actor recruited by a somewhat mysterious man named Arby to play Puck in Arby's version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The company of actors are all boys aged 11-18. They will play in the brand-new reproduction of Shakespeare's Globe. Just before the play opens Nat falls ill. He is taken to the hospital where he is diagnosed with bubonic plague.
Meanwhile Nat wakes up in 1599, four hundred years before his own time. Everyone believes him to be Nat Field from St. Paul's school, loaned to Shakespeare's company to play Puck to Shakespeare's Oberon in a very important performance of the "Dream." Shakespeare and Nat quickly connect, forming a strong personal bond. Nat, who has suffered much loss in his life, is a kindred spirit to Shakespeare, who recently lost his son Hamnet. Their relationship is one of the most believable and warm parts of the book. Cooper's Shakespeare is one you want to be the real Shakespeare.

The company is nervous as it is believed that Queen Elizabeth I herself may come to see the play. But the big day arrives and all goes well. Nat, a boy from 1999, meets Queen Elizabeth.
After the play Nat realizes that his current situation cannot stay the way it is. Nat Field will be returning to St. Paul's where Nat will instantly be rejected. He promises Shakespeare to come back when he is grown and act with him again.

I am a weepy person. And I cried at the end of this book. It was beautiful. And you know, I believed it, the possiblity of it. I can't really say anything else because I'll completely spoil the book, but the characterizations were such that it felt right to me. Bravo Susan Cooper!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to...

This is one of the last new features I'm introducing. Once a month I'll post a how-to. Some of them will be serious, a few might be a bit funny.

How to make a recepie notebook

1. Buy or obtain in another legal method a sturdy three ring notebook, paper (lined or unlined), dividers or construction paper, and plastic sheet protectors.

2. Decorate the outside of your notebook as desired. If there is any possibility of confusion I suggest putting "Recepie Notebook" somewhere on the outside.

3. Decide how many and what catagories you will be placing your recepies in. Set aside this many dividers or pieces of construction paper and decorate them as you want, writing the title of each catagory somewhere. If you are using construction paper fashion tabs and glue them to the sides so you can tell where to flip.

4. Divide up the plastic sheet protectors. You can do this in two ways. One is to divide them evenly among the catagories while the other is to put more in a catagory where you have more recepies.

5. Copy your recepies onto the pieces of paper and place them within the plastic sheet protectors. This will keep the recepies from getting food on them while cooking.

Have fun!

Poem # 4

Another older poem I thought I'd post.

A Welshman's Lament

There is tired I am of hills and vales-
There is tired I am of sighs and wails-
There is tired I am of wandering on-
There is tired I am of seeing each dawn-
There is tired I am of peddling wares-
There is tired I am of living off hares.

There are dreams I am having of owning a house-
There are dreams I am having of a a fire to douse-
There are dreams I am having of a fine estate-
There are dreams I am having of opening my gate-
There are dreams I am having of a small table-
There are dreams I am having of horse and stable.

September 2003

Monday, September 25, 2006

St. Sophia and daughters

Sts. Sophia, Faith, Hope, and Charity Sept. 17/30

St. Sophia was a widow in the 2nd century who raised her three daughters as Christians. When the Emperor Hadrian began persecuting Christians they were arrested and brought before the emperor. The emperor entreated the three young girls to renounce Christ and their mother and live in comfort. They refused and were tortured and killed one by one, first Faith, then Hope, and then Charity. St. Sophia was allowed to bury their bodies, which she did. She died herself a few days later.

Source: St. Irene Chrysovalantou

Thursday, September 21, 2006

New Feature #5--Recepie of the month

Here's the next new feature. Each month I'll be posting a new recepie.

Sour Cherry and Vanilla (Cranberry and Almond) Scones*

*All ingredients in parenthises will be for the Cranberry and Almond Scones

3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. very cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 t. vanilla (1 t. almond)
3/4 c. buttermilk or orange juice
1 c. sour cherries (dried cranberries or "craisins")
2 T. melted margarine, or milk

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar. Cut in butter until you have a grainy, coarse mixture.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in egg, vanilla (almond), and buttermilk. Using a fork, lightly bring the mixture in toward the center to combine the wet and dry. When slightly combined, fold in cherries (cranberries). Blend to form a soft shaggy mass. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and knead very gently to make a soft dough. pat or shape the doubh into a 10 in. circle. Cut into 4 equal portions. Cut each portion into thirds, making a total of 12 wedges. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the scones on the sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake at 425 degrees until golden, 12-15 minutes.

Original recepie from the Grandview Library Cookbook, Cranberry Almond version by my family

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chicory Fields

Chicory Fields

The blue of the sky is reflected, deeper
In you below. Your color is God's.
It heals my soul. Like water
Soothing my tired body
Your blue surrounds my heart
And gives it ease.

If I could stay here and gaze
Always at this blue,
My heart would ever sing for joy.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Sts. Joachim and Anna

Sts. Joachim and Anna, Sept 9/22

Sts. Joachim and Anna were the parents of the Mother of God. They had been married for fifty years and Anna was considered barren which was a shameful thing in Jewish culture of the times. They prayed earnestly to God who sent them an angel to proclaim the birth of the Theotokos (God-bearer). St. Joachim lived to his 80th year and St. Anna to her 79th year.

Source: OrthodoxWiki

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Poem #2

Here's my next poem in the "poem of the week" series.


They come from here and there-
Making an attack upon my orderly beds-
I root them out diligently-
Then find how lovely they are.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Feature # 4--Story of the Month

I called this feature "
Story of the Month" basically because I couldn't think of anything else to call it. It's not necessarily going to be a story, but it will be some prose piece; short story or just random blurb. This first one is part of a short story I started.

The Prodigal

Shores are almost always lovely, even if in a strange and wild way. This one was no exception. Above a tall grey cliff the seagulls wheeled, mewling, while below it the waves broke against the rocks. The cliff sloped down on the left to a stony beach where a man was just beaching a small boat. He straightened wearily and gazed around him. Then he began the steep walk to the top of the path leading over the cliff.

He was tall and well-built although bent at the mmoment under a large pack. he had an air of having traveled far and suffered much. Though he was born and raised here his old friends would not have recognized him had the met him. His clothes were old and stained but carefully patched.

He followed the shore path for some time until he came upon a stand of trees; tall elms and stately poplars mixed with dark pines and slim white birches. Here he turned inland, striking a path that led him away from the sound of the waves. The trees ended and the man came out into rolling hills and snug, prosperous farmhouses. In this secluded place it was hard to imagine that the roar of the sea was so near.

Down in a sunny hollow lay a small yellow house with white shutters. Morning glories trailed over the front porch while fruit trees grew behind the house. A neat dirt path led from the road to the house. The man turned down it, as he had so many times before. Up the few steps and he stood, at the last awkward and unsure, before the door. Finally he lifted his hand and knocked.

There was a long silence while he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Then the door opened, revealing a small woman in a blue housedress with an untidy bun of grey hair. She stared at the man for a moment, then gasped. "Christopher! Well, you've come back. Come along inside dear. I'll go and get your father."

Inside the cool hall he stopped her. "Mother, would that be wise? Wouldn't he--I don't want to trouble you. I'll just..."

"You left fifteen years ago dear. He's not been angry with you the last twelve. You always did think him worse than he is."

Left alone in the hall Christopher put his pack down by a small table. Nothing had changed, and yet somehow it was different. What had seemed new and fresh when he was young now was old and worn. Or perhaps it was he that had changed. Or perhaps it was both...

He was deep in his thoughts when his father came in, an aging giant with a great shock of hair going everywhere. He had to take Christopher by the shoulder to get his attention. They stood looking at each other for a long moment. "I am glad to see you back. There was a time when I would have thrown you out if you had set foot in this house, but that is long gone now. Come into the kitchen; your mother will want to feed you I am sure."

Later that night Christopher wandered through the house, implanting it in his memory, as if it was not already there. Here still were the bits of china and silk that had been his mother's dowry. Here were the books that his father read sometimes when the work was done. Here was the picture of the Pyramids that had awakened such longing in him when he was young. There were no traces of him. Even in the room that had been his, still preserved carefully, there were no echoes of the boy that he had been. He could not stay there.

Outside he thought he would go to the barn. The animals would be different, a Suky instead of Bess, a Prince instead of Cyrus, but they would be comforting as their ancestors had been. The barn had always been his refuge and consolation.

He did not expect to find anyone there, but his father had lingered after the chores were over; waiting for something. Christopher did not dare think what. They stood together, silent again, for some time. "You'll be off then," his father said. It was not a question.


"When I was young I wanted to escape. To go somewhere else. I could never do it somehow. Lacked the backbone, I suppose. When you did what I could not I was angry at you. The only outlet left me was books. I chose my fate I suppose."

Christopher was silent for a moment. He had never known that about his father; had never bothered to find out. "I am sorry," he said. It seemed to be all he could say.

"Yes, well it's all right now. God bless you Kit. Come and see us sometime." He turned and left. Christopher stayed there a moment longer and then followed.

In the kitchen his mother was putting up some food in a knapsack. "I've mended your clothes dear, and here is something to take with you. No, don't say anything. I knew you would go. It's the way you are. We will miss you, you know. And I for one would take it kindly if you would write us once in awhile."

"Yes mother. I am sorry." He did not know exactly why he said that, nor what he was apologizing for, but it was said. In the morning he would be gone.

"Go to bed now. I'll wake you early." She kissed him and pushed him gently towards the stairs.

Kit could not deny that it was a relief to be once more on the road, once more walking along the shore. He did not know where he was going now. Perhaps to Lizbeth. She had said she would wait. And she would come wherever he decided to go. Yes, to Lizbeth.

Monday, September 11, 2006

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, Aug. 31/Sept. 13

St. Aidan was Irish, a monk at Iona. After St. Oswald gained the crown of Northumbria St. Aidan went there as a missionary to restore the people to Christianity. He became bishop of Lindisfarne and began preaching the faith of Christ. When St. Oswald died in 642, St. Oswin, King of Deira, supported St. Aidan in his works.

St. Aidan was a great missionary because he was polite, kind, and humble. He did not force Christianity on those he visited but rather slowly interested them in it. Through his tireless efforts Northumbria was returned to Christianity.

St. Aidan was also sucessful because he expressed his faith in a way that suited the people he was converting. That is, he used his Celtic heritage to appeal to the Celtic people he worked with rather than appearing as a Roman conqueror.

St. Aidan died in 651 after a short illness, while leaning against the wall of a local church. His feast is celebrated on August 31 Old Calendar.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

"The Marshes of Glynn"

I usually don't post on a Sunday, but I was reading a bit of one of my many notebooks and came across a bit of "The Marshes of Glynn" by Sidney Lanier that I can't resist posting.

From "The Marshes of Glynn"

Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-witholding and free
Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea!
Tolerant plains, that suffer the sea and the rains and the sun,
Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath mightiliy won
God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain
And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain.

As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God:
I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies
In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh and the skies.
By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod
I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God:
Oh, like to the greatness of God is the greatness within
The range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.

~Sidney Lanier

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New Feature #3: Poem of the week

Each week I'll be posting an original poem by moi. (Which means I need to start writing again.) Here's the first.


The sun filtered through the trees-
The rain drumming upon the eaves-
The song of the birds-
The sweet scent of the flowers-
These things give me Joy.

The singing of a choir-
The end of a tale well told-
The swoop of a swing-
The laughter of friends-
These things give me Joy.

(Be kind, it's a very old poem.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

New Feature #2: Saint of the Week

Second new feature: Every Monday I will post the life of an Orthodox Saint celebrated around this time. I am starting with Fr. Seraphim Rose. This will necessarily be a condensed biography. For a mich more rich study of Fr. Seraphim's life, works, and teachings see the biography written by Fr. Damascene Christensen, Fr. Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works.

Fr. Seraphim Rose, commemorated Sept. 2/August 21

Fr. Seraphim is not a canonized saint, but many Orthodox consider him one, particularly in Russia and Serbia. He is widely known as "Blessed" Seraphim Rose, but I prefer to call him Fr. Seraphim. I do consider him a modern-day saint.

Fr. Seraphim was born Eugene Rose in San Diego, California. His parents were Protestant and as a young man Eugene had little real contact with the church. As a college student he studied Buddhism and other eastern philosophies. He was a brilliant scholar, excelling in the study of Chinese. Eugene's friend, Jon Gregerson, introduced him to the Russian Orthodox church at a time when Eugene was beginning to move towards Christianity. He was chrismated in 1962.

Eugene and his friend Gleb Podmoshenky opened a bookstore next to the Russian cathedral in San Francisco. With the blessing and encouragement of St. (then Archbishop) John Maximovitch they began the labor of publishing a magazine which they called the "Orthodox Word". Gradually a brotherhood of like-minded young men grew up around the bookstore and in 1968 Eugene, Gleb, and others left the city to go to the wilderness of northern California. They bought land in Platina and began to develop a monastic life as the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. St. Herman is one of the earliest American Orthodox Saints. Two years later Eugene and Gleb were tonsured monks. Eugene became Fr. Seraphim and Gleb became Fr. Herman after St. Herman of Alaska.

The monastery continued to publish the Orthodox Word as well as books and pamphlets written by Fr. Seraphim and translations of texts. One of the most important books they published was Russia's Catacomb Saints which documented the struggles of Orthodox Christians within Communist Russia. The book was edited by Fr. Seraphim from a manuscript given to them by I.M. Andreyev. After Fr. Seraphim's death in 1982, more of his writings were published and today practically every Christian bookstore and church library has his writings in translation.

Fr. Seraphim died on Sept. 2, 1982 at 48. His body did not experience rigor mortis and some say that they smelled roses when they were by him.

Fr. Seraphim is a witness to the fact that an American brought up in a normal household can attain the heights of Orthodoxy and indeed can be a major contributor to its preservation. Fr. Seraphim Rose is one of the most important figures in the rebirth of Russian Orthodoxy. But beyond that he is an inspiration for each and every one of us. We must study his writings and keep his sayings alive in our hearts. "Today in Russia, tomorrow in America." "It is later than you think; hasten then to do the will of God."

Holy Fr. Seraphim, pray to God for us!


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Changes to the sidebar

I've been making a few changes to my sidebar, so I'll just go through them quickly.


Mrs. Wilt--I've been visiting Mrs. Wilt's blog for about two months and have found it absolutely enchanting. She posts on a wide variety of subjects, from helpful tips to thought-provoking discussions.

My Chain Reading Profile--Chain Reading is a very interesting site where you can review and reccomend books, suggest a book to a friend, and in general keep track of reading. Visiting my profile will tell you what books I reccomend, what I'm reading, and what I'm planning to read

Lanier--While visiting Krista's blog I discovered her list of links. Lanier was one of them and I've enjoyed reading her blog very much over the past week or so.


As I begin adding new features I will also add dropdown boxes to help visitors navigate mroe easily. I stole the idea from Mrs. Wilt because it works very well on her site.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New feature #1: Quote of the Month

Here's the first of the new features I announced: A different quote for every month, which will be posted the first day of the month.

September's Quote

"I should lose some of the best recollections, best encouragements, and best objects, that I carry through my daily life. I should lose my belief that had I been his equal, and had he loved me, I should have tried with all my might to make him better and happier, as he would have made me...I should lose a kind of picture of him--or what he might have been, if I had been a lady, and he had loved me--which is always with me and which I somehow feel that I could not do a mean or a wrong thing before."

Our Mutual Friend--Charles Dickens