Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

And look at this!



Snow in Texas? Unreal!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas Eve

Popovers and orange cake look likely at this point, but I have the crab legs thawing in the fridge just in case. Poor us.

I got that wreath I was after thanks to my parents:


End result: We're not total scrooges this year. :)

One of my sponsored children (the Romanian) sent me this lovely greeting:


I found a post (on a food blog of all things) about the awkwardness of celebrating Christmas without children. I don't agree with the idea that we don't have to celebrate the Nativity of Christ, but I'll admit that that's because I'm Orthodox and think differently than other Christians. No, I'll not be celebrating Christmas because I want to throw up (yay). But I agree with the sentiment that you wonder, "Who am I dressing the house up for?" I've just decided that the answer is me. And my husband. Next year. I'll even put the tree by the intake vent in the hopes of spreading the smell of Christmas throughout the house. :)

Unrelated to Christmas, I think I'm beginning to understand the biological clock. Clearly I'm almost 30. I sat upright in the middle of the night and told Chris I wanted a baby. Not my own--I have no interest in pregnancy. Don't think I'm terribly capable of it anyway. Anyway, I got the itch bad to foster babies who were born drug-dependent. It would be hard and there would be heartbreak, but it would be worth it. Then I went back to sleep and got over it. And I got a package of trendy clothes from Australia and began to fantasize about taking a trip over there (Chris would rather go to New Zealand, but they're close enough that I think it would work in one trip). So now I'm back to being the childless wife who would rather travel and write and not know how to decorate for Christmas. How long until that biological clock runs out of batteries? When's menopause?

Have a lovely Christmas, gentle readers. May it not be fraught with tummy bugs and existential crises.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Dinner: Tummy Bug Version

I went to bed feeling a little cruddy. I woke up at 3:40 feeling a lot cruddy. Now Chris feels the same way. It's either something we ate or something we picked up.

Right now, we're going to indulge in some lovely Sprites (mine has cherry in it!), but if things are still bad on Christmas we have a contingency plan. The orange cake will still be made because it sounds too good to pass up. The rest of the overly-complicated meal will be replaced by coconut flour popovers. Yummy. Chris has offered to cook up eggs and bacon too, but I'm going through another vegetarian crisis and may pass up on the bacon.

Ah, this Sprite is good.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Dinner

How 'bout a fun post, huh?

I thought we'd be with Chris's family on Christmas Day, but we had to push that back a bit. The upside is that Chris and I get a Christmas dinner all to ourselves! Wanna know the menu? Too bad. Here it is.
Fun, fun, fun! :D

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Annual Christmas Rant

Yes, it's that time of year when I revel over the Son of God becoming man so children could get thousands of dollars in unneeded presents. (I buy my nieces books because I'm the un-fun aunt.)

Who exactly decided that Christmas was just for the benefit of children? Okay, I'll grant that a baby is involved, so the inclination to involve children (especially the small ones) seems natural. And I'll also grant that, when I was at home with my mom going through old Christmas ornaments, I picked the ones for myself that evoked that good ol' feeling of Christmas nostalgia. But being part of the infertile community, I know there are people who feeling unbearably sad because they don't have children to share Christmas with. I think I understood that feeling when I was Episcopalian a million years ago, but now that I'm Orthodox I know something with certainty:

The Nativity of Christ is for everyone and worthy of celebration by everyone. 

Am I callous for saying that? Has my acceptance of being childfree caused me to lose my empathy with those who mourn? That's really for you to decide. My opinion is unlikely to be changed by much of anything.

But before you slam your computer shut (unless it's a desktop--please don't do that) and curse the god cruel enough to make me and give me internet access and a blog, consider my very recent revelation. I write a blog post about Christmas every year because I don't have kids, I'm unlikely to have kids, and I don't particularly want kids anymore, yet I still believe that I have both the right and the responsibility to celebrate Christmas. But I don't. That Christmassy nostalgia from picking through childhood ornaments was still fresh on my mind as I sat in a salon with my glasses off and my hair under a plastic cap slowly turning black, and I turned to Chris and said, "Can we get a real tree?" It's one week to Christmas and we haven't decorated. We're unlikely to this year. We didn't last year. Two years ago, we took a plastic tree out of a box, put it together, and didn't even put ornaments on it. Chris doesn't even want to bring that tree in from the garage (apparently it's a pain in the butt to get through the door). Will I even wrap presents this year, or will I just stuff them in gift bags? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I'm waiting for kids that I know will never happen!! I want a real tree and snowflake-shaped lights and a wreath on the door! What am I waiting for?!

If I have my way, we'll put the artificial tree on the curb with a "Free to Good Home" sign on it and be done with it and all artificial trees for good. We'll look even more like the neighborhood scrooges than ever. And we'll get on with life and celebrate Christmas without kids. Because we can--and should.

That wasn't much of a rant. Terribly sorry to not be as acerbic as last year. Perhaps I'll be in the proper spirit next year.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Wishlist

My mom discovered a problem with my original post on what I want for Christmas. The website for the shelter has changed (I doubt their website is their highest priority anyway). It's now here, but there's another problem: The Paypal link doesn't work properly. So you have some options: 1) you can send money this way:
Or send a check / money order to:St. John Foundation For The HomelessPO Box 290-423,Brooklyn, NY 11229, USATel. 718-769-0983info@SvDom.org
2) or, you can give money to another organization: Fund for Assistance to the ROCOR.

I'm OCA, not ROCOR, but Chris's godfather is a ROCOR priest. Also, while we're fortunate to be able to support our priest at St. Maximus, most ROCOR priests (Chris's godfather included) have to have civilian jobs. That's why my little heart broke when I read this:
When hurricane Sandy spared his home in NJ with little damage, Fr. Timothy thought that, compared to most people, the situation of his young family of 4 was enviable.  What are a few days without power when you still have each other and all your earthly possessions, minus the perishable food that had to be thrown out?His happiness turned to anguish when he found out that both he and his matushka’s income was cut off indefinitely, because their employers suffered from Sandy. Like most ROCOR clergy, Fr Timothy’s parish does not provide him with a salary or health insurance. FEMA denied his claim. The family has no place left to turn to.   
So, if it's what you prefer, click on the link for the Fund for Assistance, turn your head to the right of your screen, select "Hurricane Sandy Victims" on the drop-down menu, and hit donate. Then, ideally, you'll donate money for my Christmas present. :)

I hate asking for presents. :(

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Media Fast

I wish I could say that taking a day off from the world (essentially) was my idea, but alas it comes from here: Media Free One Day a Week Challenge! Or should I say that it was the catalyst? This was percolating in my brain for some time, but sometimes seeing someone else write about it is good motivation.

Consider yourself warned: We will be out of pocket from Saturday at 5:00 PM until 11:59 PM Sunday. Chris's phone will be on and plugged in (and sort of out of sight), but my phone will be completely off. There will be no texting, no smart-phoning (I made a verb!), no TV (which is okay since we're boycotting the NFL--this has been the best year ever, by the way), no Wii, no Netflix, no internet, no computer, no Kindle, no nothin'. What will we do instead? I have no clue yet. Shooting a roll of film and walking dogs has been suggested so far. Listening to Orthodox CDs is a must and may be the only thing to keep us from going mad. And yes, various and sundry family, we are aware that you call us to talk on Sundays. That's why Chris's phone will be on.

So ... why? Family time! And taking a break on the Lord's Day. I've gotten back to writing lately, but I've always had a bargain with myself to take Sundays off. No matter how bad I want to get something down, it has to wait. Ideally, church attendance would accompany that, so I have to get my illness and, well, laziness out of the way.

That's what's up at our house. Maybe you'll consider the media fast as well!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Do-Goodery

Haven't blogged in ages for some reason, but I thought I'd pass along another opportunity to do a little good in the world.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

All I Want for Christmas

I hate writing this particular post. Frankly, I'm still not over my wedding, where alerting people where your registry was was bad form. So I feel some reluctance to put my "Christmas wish list" on the internet, but it seems to me to be the best way to get things done.

I live in a house full of junk. I have hundreds of books that will never be read. I recently did a massive purging of cookbooks down to a select few that I actually use. I'm swimming in art and doo-dads. There is no physical item I want for Christmas.

But you know that the homeless are near and dear to my heart. I've discovered a very small, Orthodox homeless shelter in New York City that caters to immigrants from the ex-USSR who live with significant addiction problems, usually under the pier at Brighton Beach. They have only five beds but can sleep about 14. They need $200,000 for a downpayment on a larger facility (man, New York is crazy-expensive). So in lieu of presents, I'd really love it if you donated some money to this shelter. You don't even have to do it in my honor. They pray for everyone who donates, which I think is wonderful. If I ever get to NYC, I'd love to see this place in action.

If you do decide to donate in my name, just a word to the wise: In church I'm not Chandler--I'm Elizabeth. In Orthodoxy, you take the name of your patron saint--mine is Righteous Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist (Elizabeth also happens, conveniently, to be my middle name). Since this is an Orthodox organization, I'd prefer to do things properly. :) In fact, if you're really awesome, if you donate you could write down some variation of this:

Please pray for Elizabeth, who desires the restoration of her health.

(Yeah, mental illness and food allergies causing fatigue and brain fog are getting me down.)

I don't mean to sound sterile and forceful--it's 4:30 AM and I'm tired--I just want to put out there in love that I want something unorthodox (HA!) for Christmas.

Thanks for reading. I always appreciate and love my loquacious readership. :)

St. John of Kronstadt House for the Homeless

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Bigger the Kitchen ...

... the less cooking going on in there. (Or if you're me, the more it is a kitchen, the less cooking going on in there.) I say that because I saw this picture from Wabi Sabi on Pinterest:


... and I thought, "Oh, what a lovely kitchen!" Perfect for two people. Frankly, it's an all-around lovely studio flat, and I wish I had it. Don't get me wrong--I love my house. When you get down to it, it's just the right size for two people, four cats, two dogs, and an amazing amount of furniture. But secretly I long for a place like our tiny apartment in Marfa (minus, of course, the terrifying electrical problems). When it was clean (ie, rarely), it was absolute perfection, and its kitchen was just right.

I have a modest kitchen now. It's a galley kitchen with the world's greatest invention: a gas stove. (You should see me curse at the burners when I have to use an electric stove now. Sorry, Mom, but I now loathe cooking at the ancestral homestead.) But I look at this picture and envy the tiny stove and the tiny oven. When am I ever going to roast a giant bird? When will I need all four burners at once? Heck, one of my burners has a cast iron skillet full of stuff sitting on it--that's how useful it is! I consider using two burners to be a hectic dinner preparation. Two burners plus the oven? Must be Thanksgiving at my house!

How I wish for that tiny little kitchen! Oh, to do away with the bulky appliances (especially that monster microwave) and have space to prep! To have an organized pantry! For space for my bulk items (you should see me go through canned tomatoes)! AAAH!! Why is life never ideal?!

Realistically, my kitchen is the norm. To get a kitchen like the one above, you have to pay out the nose (that's a phrase, right?) for an all-around "pretty" apartment. I've got a nice bedroom, a messy office, a disastrous guest room (no one visit for a while, okay?), an almost perfect living/dining room, and a lovely galley kitchen. I need more shelving, and some rooms are in need of serious painting, but it's a lovely house. It's modest--it's not a (warning: oxymoron ahead) ostentatiously rustic flat. And I do cook in the kitchen occasionally.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Counting Beans

Seven's a lucky number, right? That's a good thing, because I have seven--count 'em, seven--types of lentils in my pantry. An impromptu pantry reorganization last night revealed that I had more lentil types than I even thought possible.

Regular brown lentils, sprouted brown lentils, French petite green lentils, urad dal (whole with black skins), urad dal (split without skins), red lentils, and beluga lentils. Sheesh.

And that's to say nothing of the rest of the beans in my pantry. I didn't even count those. If you have two things going for you--1) you like beans, and 2) you discover there are tons of exotic beans in the world--your pantry is doomed. And I have more coming from Rancho Gordo. Wonderful.

The motto of the food blog 101 Cookbooks is,
When you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying, and start cooking.
I think that needs to become my bean motto for a time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Druthers

There's an article that's been making the rounds on the web lately and getting utterly torched. It's about Irish author Maeve Binchy (who I had never heard of until she died at the end of July) and how she would have been a better writer if she'd had children. Seriously. I admit that I haven't read the actual article by author (and brilliant mother--just ask her) Amanda Craig, but I've seen enough quotes to be sufficiently pissed off. This quote is about the Orange Prize, an award for women authors:

I have often wondered whether the Orange Prize should be renamed the Navel Orange Prize, given the difference in time and energy available to women writers before and after motherhood. If any lingering prejudice against the female sex can be assumed to have vanished, which is debatable, there is no practical difference between a man and a woman writer when the latter has not had children.

SERIOUSLY?! Shouldn't this quote be offensive to every last person on earth?! Hey mothers--your husband is by nature an absentee father! He can't be expected to help raise the youngins--he's got writing to do! Gee whiz.

The tidal wave of support for Maeve Binchy rolling in as a result of Craig's idiocy got a very caffeinated yours truly talking with the hubby (who probably wanted nothing more than for yours truly to shut up so he could go to sleep) last night. Craig said that the mother-child bond is strong, but a commenter on her article pointed out that the mother-child bond is a two-way street. Some of those children in the mother-child bond grow up to be childless female writers. Chris said to me, "You have a good relationship with your mom," to which I replied, "That's a recent development." And then, to drive home why this blog post is called "Druthers", I said, "I'd rather have a good relationship with my mom than be able to have kids."

Throughout my infertility journey, I've gone through various "druthers" phases. My patron saint is Righteous Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and I often said, "I'd rather have one child like St. John the Baptist than as many children as I pleased." Now that's not to be, but I still appreciate my own sentiment. Yes, my relationship with my mom is a recent development--one no doubt born of the treatment of my mental illness. Mom and I went to see Brave together, and we held hands and cried, and during the credits I turned to my mother and said, "This is the part where I apologize for all the terrible things I did in junior high and high school." I guess some people never get to that point, but I'd trade it for kids of my own. (Oh, and every woman should see Brave with her mom, I'm convinced.)

Interested parties can read the article I'm referencing here, and those wanting further reading can read about how Maeve Binchy dealt with not being able to have children here (eat crow, Amanda Craig). I, in the meantime, am going to take a mid-afternoon shower while I send my husband out to the library to secure a book by Ms. Binchy for me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What To Do ...

I can't speak for Chris, but I'm still reeling from the choice not to have kids. I told him yesterday that the choice both saddens and thrills me: Whenever I get down about it being just him and me forever, I suddenly think, "Travel!!!" It's up and down. There's just such a terrifying finality to it.

I found myself stuck between two worlds and have finally given up on one. Sweet Grapes stresses that you make the choice to live without children, so I turned to the childless-by-choice community. What a loathsome bunch. Let's just say that I didn't fit in because I'm not a militant atheist and I don't hate children. And I do mean hate. I like the little boogers (children, I mean--not the childless-by-choice crowd)! They're hilarious! I like that when I help with homeschoolers, the littlest one of one of my families insists on being picked up ten thousand times and always asks, "Am I heavy?" (My reply? "You're still not heavy.") The childless-by-choice crowd wants "adult spaces" to be free of children so they can do adult things ... like talk about children all the time. They display such selfishness and immaturity that they can only be called children themselves. There, I said it. Now I've buried that portion of my life and spat on its grave, and I shall move on.

When I think about it, I guess I didn't really make too much of a choice. I didn't come at this from an angle of just not wanting children. My angle was having PCOS and depression that varied from non-existant to major force interrupting my life. It wasn't that I didn't want children--it's that I felt unfit to have children. So I looked up the childless-not-by-choice crowd, and I felt much more at ease. In fact, a rather lovely blog on the subject introduced me to Savvy Auntie, a community that recognizes the oft-overlooked importance of the aunts of the world. There are lots of women there who can't have children of their own and many who've chosen not to have children so they can love on their nieces and nephews. (Guess there is hope for the world.) According to the Savvy Auntie book, about 50% of women of childbearing age in the US don't have any children. Crazy, huh? I'm not alone!

Anyway, this was meant to be that list of things I plan on doing without kids until I got all ramble-y, so I should get to that.

I'm going to Disney World! You laugh--or not--at this miserably cliched joke, but it's true. Chris insists that Disney World isn't really for children anyway. Plus, we have plans (for whenever we have a life again) to go in November when the art fair takes place. I can get back to the noble business of tweeting, "Oops--bought art!" again!

I'm going to travel during the off-season! Summer is the season of travel, it seems, but there are only two places I want to be in summer: 1) in my house, in the air conditioning; and 2) in Maine. Right now, the plan for Chris's spring break is to go up to Kansas and hopefully stay on a working ranch. And hopefully it won't be as snowy as it was one state north in Nebraska when we went there for spring break to see the sandhill cranes.

I'm going to collect art! My lifelong godmother (as opposed to my Orthodox godmother) and her husband said they collected Japanese prints as their substitute for children. Chris and I have huge amounts of wall space in our house just crying out for expensive art. And I'd totally branch out into sculpture, but the dogs would just pee on it.

I'm going to photograph everything! Like this cake mix I took a picture of at Christmas!

Weird choice, but it's a pretty good picture. And damn good cake.
DSLR for color, film for black & white. Maybe I'll sell some pictures on Etsy. Who knows. We'll see.

I'm going to write! Yes! It's time to use that degree! I already have some ideas in my head that would be good YA (young adult) novels (I'm poorly suited for the grown-up stuff). I seem focused on mental illness, so perhaps I can have some impact on the kids even if I never raise them.

I guess that's all I have for now. Maybe there'll be more later. Oh, and Chris showed me the stats on the blog--thank you to all my readers worldwide, especially the Russians! You guys made my day!

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Weigh in on the Chik-Fil-A Controversy

I weigh in on a lot of controversies this way, so forgive me if you've heard this before.

OH FOR CRIPES SAKE!! THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO HAVE NO HOME!!! THERE ARE SCHOOL DISTRICTS WHO KEEP THEIR CAFETERIAS OPEN BECAUSE OTHERWISE THEIR STUDENTS WOULDN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO EAT IN THE SUMMER!!! I KNOW A SCHIZOPHRENIC PERSON WHO CAN'T SEE A PSYCHIATRIST BECAUSE MEDICARE WON'T COVER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES!!! WHY THE HELL DO YOU HAVE YOUR PANTIES IN A WAD (EITHER FOR OR AGAINST) OVER THE OWNER OF A PRIVATE COMPANY THAT SELLS FRIED CHICKEN SAYING THAT HE DOESN'T SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE?!?! YOU SHOULDN'T BE EATING FRIED CHICKEN ANYWAY!!! IT'S BAD FOR YOU!!! DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR MONEY THAT WILL ACTUALLY HELP THE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY AND EAT SOME DAMN GREEN BEANS, FOR PETE'S SAKE!!! 


Thank you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The End of the Dream

I realize that the age of 29 is a pretty young age to decide that children just aren't going to happen. That doesn't mean I'm not capable of logical thought just because I'm not quite 30. Still, I'm surprised by how much this decision hurts. Curse you, Facebook--my old high school friends are firing out children by the dozens (not all at once, thank goodness), and all I can think is, "8 years of marriage, 1 miscarriage, 1 failed adoption." That's what I have to my name. No cuddly infants or precocious toddlers. Just Chris and me.

Honestly, the choice not to have children came from a particularly distressing situation. I've sort of made the choice not to have kids on numerous occasions, but it always seemed like a positive thing--a celebration of an unusually good marriage that wasn't turning out to be fruitful--and not at all coming from a place of pain. Then I decided to change my medicine for my major depressive disorder. Taking the meds away gave me incredible anxiety, but adding them back gave me a deep depression that I haven't experienced in years. Although I'm doing better now, I'm still working things out. With these thoughts in mind, Chris and I were forced to look at being a family of two (I prefer that term to childless or childfree) from a place of pain rather than the usual "why fix what ain't broke?" standpoint.

Most of the time I'm okay. Sometimes I'm disastrously depressed. I take meds that could cause birth defects, and clearly changing my meds to something more suitable could put me in a very bad place. Yes, I could do it, and it's an option, but it's also a risk--one I'm not really interested in taking. So getting pregnant--something already unlikely after all this time--is out.

But what about adoption? Let me count the ways ...

1. Did you know there are 36 couples for every one infant available for adoption?
2. Did you know stigma against mental illness prevents me from adopting abroad?

That would leave adopting from foster care, but I know those children would have needs that could possibly send me into a downward spiral. I don't want to be unavailable to a child because of my own problems, and I don't want to leave Chris as the lone parent for long intervals. Chris has a hard enough time and I've already caused him plenty of heartache just over the past few weeks. Oh, and never mind that adoption agencies want you to be stable in your mental illness, which I'm clearly not.

I've been rereading Sweet Grapes (now on Kindle for your convenience!) because I need a refresher course in making this a good decision instead of just one more miserable one. In the coming days (or weeks, knowing me), I'll post a list of things I'm going to do without children just to stay positive. In the meantime, here's my heartbreaking choice--our heartbreaking choice.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How to Knit for the Homeless

My computer's in the shop and I'm in the midst of a terrible depressed episode, so my superpowers are confined to knitting and lying deathly still. I thought a little writing might do me some good, and since I'm putting my crazy new iPhone camera to work taking pictures of my knitting and describing what I'm doing, I thought I'd write on that subject.

As I've said before, I'm a "think globally, act locally" kind of girl. That said, I've only recently realized that I live in Texas. Last year's winter was so mild that my hot water never ran out while I showered, and I can do some marathon showering sessions. That isn't to say that we haven't had some nasty winters--we're mostly known for ice storms and not snowstorms--but Texas may not be the place for an inundation of wool hats. If you're in the same predicament I am, you may consider giving to this place in New York (they haven't updated their website in years, so I suggest contacting them beforehand) or this place in Minneapolis. My personal choice for the year was the realization that my hometown of Columbia, MO, gets considerably colder than Denton, TX, so to Columbia my knitting shall go this year.

You don't need a big, fancy organization that specializes in hat-knitting for your purposes. All you need is a local (or less-than-local) homeless shelter. I have in the past given my hats to the Salvation Army Shelter, which is the only homeless shelter in Denton County (!), and they have no official charity or "program" for such giving. Often shelters will have lists of the things they need, but that may be about as official as it gets. So don't be afraid to still create and donate in your area.

There's a hierarchy, I've learned, to what's needed: Anyone can knit a scarf. I'm not saying that scarves aren't needed, just not in the abundance at which they can be churned out. Heck, I'm knitting a scarf right now--it's a great way to use yarn ends. Hats are probably the most needed item--I mean, who leaves the house in winter without a trusty hat on? I'm aware that knitting hats is not the easiest thing in the world, but that's why Knifty Knitters exist. And boy howdy, using the basic stitch you can make a bazillion hats in no time flat! I knit exclusively on knitting looms (can't get the same nice, tight stitch with needles, don't know why) using proper knit and purl, which you can learn here (unfortunately I can't find my usual free source--sorry). If you can knit mittens or socks, you're a gall-dang superhero.

If you can't knit but your superpower is sewing, get some fleece and a pattern and make hats and scarves and mittens. I have this pattern and something like 5 yards of fleece waiting for me, and I love the hood and easy-looking mitten pattern. Also consider the amazing ugly quilt. If you can't sew but your superpower is shopping, I recommend buying up all the socks and underwear (for both men and women) you can get your mitts on. Again, check to see if your local shelter has a list of things they need and flex your shopping muscles on that.

General rules: Skew dark. Dark colors hide dirt better and therefore can go longer between washings. As charming as some yarn may be, I'm getting word that solid colors are preferred--if you're the creative knitter type, think of the project as meditative instead of creative and save your mad fair isle skillz for a nice sweater. I'm getting conflicting reports on wool vs. acrylic. Wool is warm, as we all know, but we probably also know what happens when you put wool in the washing machine on hot. Let's not even talk about the dryer. Naturally, my stash is flooded with wool yarn, so my hats and scarves are all wool. If you have the choice however (and maybe have the money to replace your entire yarn stash with acrylic), I'd skew towards the manmade fibers. SKEW LARGE--that's very important! Chris has a pumpkin-noggin, and if I can't get a hat I've made to fit on his head I know it's no good. If it can fit a man, there's a good chance it'll fit just about anyone who needs it.

In summary: Large, dark, solid, acrylic hats, scarves, mittens, and socks. 


That's all I've got. Thanks for listening to me. I feel a little better. Happy knitting/sewing/shopping!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Drawn and Quartered

Ever feel like life is pulling you in a thousand different directions? Ever feel like life presents you with so much stuff that you can't keep a handle on it all? Did you think I was going to give you advice? Too bad. All I can do is give you a knowing nod and go back to stressing about all the things I should do but haven't done.

I was recently made to feel bad about the fact that I don't work. The combination of being completely broke, hopelessly in debt, and not having any kids to take care of makes me feel like a useless lump of sludge that merely consumes and has no output. I considered going to CNA school again to help support the family while Chris is in nursing school. Just one little problem: Remember how I dropped out of art school? Yeah, I'm coming to terms with the fact that I had a panic attack. So now I'm a useless lump of sludge with no output that isn't right in the head. No wonder my self-esteem is in the toilet.

Today I dreamed that I went to visit my grandmother at her assisted living home. When I saw her, I cried--not because she has Alzheimer's but because I hadn't seen her in so long. I know she won't remember who I am when I finally do go, but that doesn't excuse me from going to see her.

Oh, and I should start exercising again. And I should do more to raise money for my NAMI Walk. And I should cook more. And I should clean. And I should pray more for my husband and my church. And I haven't made certain phone calls that I should. And I shouldn't begrudge having to take care of a friend who's disabled and mentally ill. And I should volunteer. And I haven't apologized to certain people for not fulfilling my obligations towards them. And I haven't gone to church in two months. And I spend more time with my family than I do with Chris's. And have I mentioned I'm a lousy wife? And I feel guilt when I don't want to adopt. And, and, and ...

Two Bible verses spring to mind:

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. 

I had a friend leave the world and go become a nun at a nearby monastery. (Oh, and add not visiting monasteries as another thing to feel guilty about.) Her parents were not happy, but she had to go and see if this was the life for her. I wonder about her and about the saints throughout the ages who've left the world behind. I don't perceive what she's done to be selfishness (Chris always says that the prayers of monastics may be the only thing holding the world together), but when I think about such a life for myself I can't help but think that it would be perceived as the height of laziness: What, all you do is pray? What about the poor? Why can't you take care of them? What good does praying all day do? I feel pulled in a thousand different directions, yet but one thing is needful. I want to take care of the homeless, the poor, foster children, my family, my pets. I want to bury my dead. And when I fall short of my own ideals, I feel useless. Maybe I have the wrong ideals.

It occurs to me that I'm very concerned about public perception. Humility is a high ideal in the Orthodox Church--one only achieved by humiliation. So I should be grateful that my joblessness became an issue. If staying at home, knitting and praying, and not having panic attacks is what God has called me to do, then I shouldn't be ashamed. Do I dare quote St. Theophan again (you probably have that excerpt memorized by now)?

I'll go visit my grandmother, and if anyone wants to take me to the monastery in Kemp in July after I get back from my parents' then by all means toss me in the car and take me there.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh yeah ...

... that's why we said we wouldn't adopt before!

It seems to me that buying adoption books is akin to most people buying a treadmill: Dust will be collected--or if it's my house, dogs will pee on things. But in the process of easing off some of my psychiatric meds, my anxiety skyrocketed (turns out those meds actually do things!). I began to get cold feet about adopting. Then things got worse: My anxiety was so bad that it began to depress me, and right now I'm in the throes of a depressed episode. With that, I'm remembering why we said we wouldn't adopt after the last adoption failed--I can't even take care of myself when I'm depressed, much less anyone else, and definitely much less anyone with special needs.

My meds make it hard for me to cry anymore, but I had a good crying spell and settled down to discuss the future with Chris. Chris wants to get through nursing school, get a job he actually likes for a change, and travel. I want to be a better aunt, be an artist (without art school!), and travel. Fortunately, we agree on some things! At this point I'd still kind of like to do respite care, and I do have my three sponsored children to care for, but anything permanent besides being married to my husband scares me right now.

Remember this quote from St. Theophan?
“Do whatever falls to your hands,in your circle and in your situation–and believe that this is and will be your true work;nothing more from you is expected.It is a great error to think that you mustundertake important and great labours,whether for heaven, or, as the progressives think,in order to make one’s contribution to humanity.That is not necessary at all. It is necessary onlyto do everything in accordance with the Lord’s commandments.Just exactly what is to be done? Nothing in particular,just that which presents itself to each oneaccording to the circumstances of his life,and which is demanded by the individual eventswith which each of us meets.”
I still don't know if adoption will ever happen--I greatly prefer that the Lord just plop things in my lap rather than me seeking situations out. I wish life was just a little bit easier to sort out. I also wish this depression would end. These things take time.

I'll keep the adoption books, just in case. But I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be Chandler & Chris, World Travelers, in the course of my life. Okay by me.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Let the Training Begin!

First off, let's start with a picture of me:

That brown goat was eating my cardigan
I believe in Health at Every Size, but I'm still not exactly the picture of athleticism here. Far from it. But I just couldn't get motivated to do things besides sit on the couch and watch my husband play video games (and honestly, he couldn't get motivated to do things besides sit on the couch and play video games). Fortunately, I finally have some motivation ...

NAMI WALKS!

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and twice yearly they have 5K walks to raise money and awareness. Since my life has been turned around by the treatment of my major depressive disorder, I'm very cool with raising cash for a mental health organization. Chris and my new-lease-on-life mom have agreed to join me--all the more motivation--so I took my first tiny walk this morning. 

The walk was not without challenges: I was extremely anxious, a problem that will easily be solved with time and aided by taking my Klonopin in the morning--and anyway it seems appropriate to manifest my mental illness while training for a mental illness walk. I also didn't bring any water, which is a bad idea in summer in Texas--lesson learned. Provided it's not raining as horribly tomorrow morning as it is right now, I think tomorrow will go much better. Otherwise it'll be half an hour on the excerbikel. 

It's probably tempting to make fun of me for actually training for a 5K walk when most people I know are training to run marathons, but hey, I'm doing something. The fat acceptance books I read tell me to do things now instead of waiting till I'm skinny to do it (unlikely anyway), so here I am, undertaking a tiny walk for mental health while I'm a hearty size 22. And I'll probably come in dead last, but that's fine by me. It's like when Chris and I climbed Enchanted Rock (a giant mound of granite in central Texas): We did it--nyah.

I still have to decide if we're doing the walk in October in Fort Worth or waiting until the one in Dallas in spring. I feel good enough right now to do October. Time will tell. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Favorite Feet

My favorite little girl Miss Lemon took the opportunity to show off her dainty feet for me some time ago. I just now got them off the point-and-shoot. Are those adorable tootsies or what?!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Adoption Books Are Not for Sissies

The book I'm reading right now prompted me to ask my husband last night, "Can I ask you a question that might make your brain explode?" After he obliged, I continued, "Is it worse to have an abortion or to drink and do drugs throughout the pregnancy?"

Chris attempted to get out of answering the question by suffocating himself under his own pillow, but finally he emerged and said, "They're both incredibly selfish things to do."

In order for you to ponder this miserable question in your own mind, you may want to consider that the pregnant person in question was proud of herself for not having an abortion. Like my husband, I'm stumped. But the whole world of adoption and foster care mystifies me. How could things go so wrong that the child's parents would treat them so badly? Why doesn't anyone in the extended family step up for the child? How can the majority of Americans turn a blind eye to what's happening throughout the country? And when is Christ returning, because I'm not sure it can get much worse than this?

I've been reading a lot of adoption memoirs just to get ramped up since it'll be a while before we actually adopt. In the last one I read, this happened:

1. One child is diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, becomes violent, and has to be hospitalized.
2. Years later, two children turn out to be psychopaths, run away from home, turn the community against the family by claiming abuse, and end up completely severing ties with the family.
3. Another child reveals that the psychopaths molested him for five years.
4. The same child, cursed with the double-whammy of sexual abuse and a family history of mental illness, is diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia.
5. The same child also turns violent and has to be hospitalized.

Good fun read.

As dismal as it all is, it's a good thing not to go into this blindly. If I can get through these books and still want to adopt at the end of it, then I'm in denial, naive, or the biggest kind of idiot. Probably all three. But if you have no hope, why adopt at all?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Just a Thought

Chris has been religiously watching the NBA playoffs, and I unfortunately am about sick of them. Usually I've been retreating into the bedroom and reading cookbooks on the Kindle, but last night I decided to do something different: I sat down at the dining table and wrote to my sponsored children. I have to admit--I'm terrible about writing to them. I seem to remember them the most when I'm attentive to Orthodoxy, but in those (sadly long) times when I'm absorbed with myself I forget just about everyone I should be taking care of. But a recent incident reawakened my Christian zeal ever so slightly, so my focus is on the three children I sponsor rather than how to roast a duck. Not shockingly, I feel like a better person for it.

I got into child sponsorship as a substitute for having children. I've learned there are several ways to do that without the commitment of adoption. Hosting an international student, for instance. That's something that still interests me, although it's taking a back seat to the call to respite care. Goodness knows what we'll end up doing. Anyway, sponsorship was a way to fill the void infertility left. I'm especially fond of my Romanian boy who has been "my" child for almost two years now. The Ethiopian girl and Egyptian boy are recent additions in the past few months. The letters last night were the second to the girl and only the first to the boy. I've lost track of how many I've sent to the Romanian boy. And let me tell you, nothing beats the thrill of getting a letter back from them in the mail. "International mail from Romania," Chris will say to me, and I suddenly get all shy and can't open the letter for a few hours. I'm silly that way.

Anyway, I was thinking to myself as I was writing (it helps that I was incredibly caffeinated and having feelings of invincibility) that all Christians who are able should sponsor a child (or three). Honestly, it doesn't bother me if people from other faiths/no faith do it too, but my concern is always with Christians because we are called to be the salt and light of the earth. I had some really great ideas for things to say on behalf of sponsorship, but the caffeine that fueled my zeal also fueled a sleepless night and I don't remember half of what I was thinking. Still, it's a pretty cheap commitment, it's a wonderful way to impact the life of a child and his/her community, and you'll make an international friend (or three). The two boys were picked for me by random chance, and the Romanian was young at the time (6), but I prefer older children as it turns out. I got to select the Ethiopian girl myself, and I had three criteria for her: 1) had to be a girl (since I already had a boy), 2) had to be older (she's 12), and 3) don't pick the cutest kid in the bunch (a difficult impulse to overcome, lemme tell ya). The Romanian boy and Ethiopian girl are through World Vision; the Egyptian boy is through Coptic Orphans (Orthodox Christians may be more comfortable with them than other Christians--FYI). If anyone has another charity they like, please feel free to drop its name in the comments.

I apologize for a post that's a darn sight more scatterbrained than I intended back when the caffeine was still coursing through my veins. I hope you'll consider the joy of sponsorship in spite of my writing. :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Can't? Or Won't?

Some gentle readers of the Loquat may remember back to a long, long time ago when this was an adoption blog. Times sure have changed since then. Our adoption experience was a terrible disaster: We watched our agency basically fall apart, I got cold feet about the whole thing, and finally we chose to end the adoption because Chris hated his job and we didn't feel like we should bring kids into that stressful situation. A few months later, we found out about my mental illness and I was put on meds, effectively ending any chance we had at an international adoption.

That was four years ago--wow. Times really do change. Chris and I settled into being a family of two and were well on our way to making that permanent. Our childless choice could be perceived as selfishness and occasionally was. But it definitely shaped us into who we are now: As we rapidly approach our thirties, we've lost the naive idealism that drove us four years ago. We've been on vacations. We've enjoyed being alone. We've relished being able to keep sharp knives in unlocked drawers. They say that every infertile couple should consider being a family of two seriously before launching themselves into an adoption, and I wholeheartedly agree with that: Love the bejeebers out of each other for a time. Be "selfish". Grow a little older and wiser. Revel in the amazingness that is marriage and consider never turning back.

I didn't want to turn back.

Until I read this: "Where is the mommy-war for the motherless child?"

Like I said, I was hopelessly naive and idealistic during our adoption attempt. I wanted to save the world. Just how I planned to do that by adopting a set of five-year-old twins (one of whom was blind) is beyond me. We moved on, and while I can't speak for my husband I know I've certainly moved past that youthful idealism. So what is it about adopting from foster care that keeps luring me back? It's not guilt--guilt is a terrible motivator. I think it's a sense of injustice. Eighteen-year-olds who put themselves on photolistings in a desperate attempt to find a family can't not make one sad. A child who isn't getting adopted because all the families in a Christian agency don't want a black child can't not make one infuriated. I have friends who've adopted successfully from foster care--why not me?

I've got the predictable excuses: The first attempt at adoption was too traumatic. No agency will take a person who's mentally ill (this is actually something I need to verify). But whenever I'm faced with adopting from foster care, I always ask myself if I really can't do it or if I just don't want to. I guess I just don't want to, and I'm beginning to realize that I can't say that's not selfishness. But now I think I'm ready to help--not in a save-the-world, over-idealistic kind of way, but in a real, tangible way. Starfish theory. "It mattered to that one."

The local college radio station plays PSAs for AdoptUSKids, and there's one that particularly cracks me up: It starts with a new mother saying, "I know more about throwing a luncheon for ten than I do about making lunch for a 10-year-old." It ends with her pondering whether or not she can make mac-n-cheese with brie. I always liked this PSA because I don't know a darn thing about feeding a child, but I'm pretty sure mizuna is off the menu. Still, here's the plan: Once Chris is done with nursing school, we'll apply to do respite care. When he's finished his BSN, we'll apply to adopt. Scary, I know--but it feels like the right thing to do.

I guess this is another one of my self-righteous, navel-gazy posts, but it is my blog and I can say what I want on it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sometimes I Feel Like a Childless Mother

I'm blessed to have many friends I've never met. I know them from a forum for Christians dealing with infertility. Many have gone on and finally had children, but many others are like me: stuck in a rut, still part of a couple and not a family. Yet whether we have children or not, we all seem to hate Mothers Day.

I stay home from church, and I know I'm not alone in this. For me, I'm mostly at a place of peace with my childlessness, but I know better than to put myself in situations where that peace can be tested. Mothers Day is my ultimate tester. Fathers Day sucks too--I get all guilty and feel bad for Chris, who probably doesn't feel any hurt at all. I guess someone has to hurt.

For years I've tried to work out anti-motherly things to do on Mothers Day. I have not once succeeded, and end up staying at home with a Chipotle burrito bowl and a gluten-free beer. Everything seems to be infiltrated by motherliness: I can't go out to breakfast because mothers are going out to breakfast. I can't go to the Dallas Arboretum because they've invited mothers. I can't go get ice cream because mothers will be there (oh, and I can't eat dairy). I can't go to my favorite sculpture museum because it has a nice cafe where mothers will be. Frankly, I don't even know if the local wine bar is safe! I realize that I may sound pretty neurotic to those of you who have never experienced infertility, but even after nearly eight years of being off birth control I'm still trying to escape the inescapable. My infertile friends get it. (Holla!)

I know more commercial enterprises are trying to be inclusive and throw in the "mother" who's "baby" has four feet and a boatload of fur. But something about inclusiveness bugs me. I have six furbabies and guess what? I'm still not a mom. There's also "To everyone who is a mom or has a mom." That bugs me too. I'm still an outsider.

I like not having kids and I intend to stay this way. The sharp knives are in reach, the plugs don't have covers, and I don't have to put ugly foam bumpers on all the furniture's sharp corners. And yet I still have names picked out for kids, ideas of where they'd go to school, a spare room, etc. I wonder if I'll ever get over that.

Anyway, many happy wishes to my infertile friends as you come up with new ways to be antisocial on this day. And to those of you who are pregnant or parenting without problems, know you've missed a world of hurt.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm a SAHW

A stay-at-home-wife, for those of you not versed in the lingo. Although that's not the title I prefer. I like queen of all I survey. Head gardener. Master chef. Home decorator. And if you must call me a SAHW, call me a SAHW extraordinaire. Might as well. Why not?

What separates me from the SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) is the lack of children. I'm sure some think that this makes me selfish and lazy. The truth is that I'm a headcase. And I'm weak. And I struggle just to get up in the morning because I sleep so poorly at night. But I also got to be there for my mom for three weeks when she got out of the hospital. And I'll get to be there for my husband while he's working his way through nursing school. In a me, me, me culture, I like those things.

I spent high school preparing myself for a career in music. I saw myself as becoming a music history professor and not getting married until I had a masters degree. Then I met the guy who'd become my husband. I quit music school and got a bachelors in creative writing. I got married at 21--I still don't have a masters degree. What changed? I realized there are things more important than having a career. Like all the other SAHWs and SAHMs out there, I realized that family was more important. Yes--I'm a feminist nightmare.

An article has been circulating among my friends on Facebook (alas, I'm back on Facebook) about being a SAHM. I wanted to write about being a SAHW. It's not the same--I know the work I do isn't nearly as hard as what moms do--but I don't think it's without merit. Some women want careers, and more power to them. But I realized that for me that hardest and more rewarding work I could do was being at home. It was so unlike anything I'd planned for myself. Seven or eight years ago, I realized that all the work I'd ever done composing music and writing poems didn't measure up to the music and poetry in vacuuming the carpet in my tiny apartment. And when I'm on my own, watching the dogs run about the yard or tending my garden or cooking dinner, I get that feeling again.

I used to be most apologetic about my lack of gainful employment. I was embarrassed, but it was outweighed by my fear of getting a job. Once I became Orthodox, that started to disappear--seems that self-worth in the Church isn't measured by your career choices. Nice change of pace. I still think about getting a job or starting some sort of career, but then I think of being there for Mom and the desire dissipates.

Someone else on Facebook posted this today:
“Do whatever falls to your hands,
in your circle and in your situation–
and believe that this is and will be your true work;
nothing more from you is expected.
It is a great error to think that you must
undertake important and great labours,
whether for heaven, or, as the progressives think,
in order to make one’s contribution to humanity.
That is not necessary at all. It is necessary only
to do everything in accordance with the Lord’s commandments.
Just exactly what is to be done? Nothing in particular,
just that which presents itself to each one
according to the circumstances of his life,
and which is demanded by the individual events
with which each of us meets.”
St. Theophan the Recluse from “The Spiritual Life”
So I keep a vegetable garden and cook and take pictures. When people I know need help, I'm free to be there for them. I go on vacations. I think of having foreign students stay in our house when we're on our feet. I have "Cook It Your Own Damn Self" dinners on Thursday nights (the only time I get to eat mushrooms because Chris hates them). I love my family. I'm there for my husband, my parents, my friends. I don't want to fly in the face of feminism--I just want to be happy with my life. And I am.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Think I'm an Over-Pinner

Hey, I'm on Pinterest now! And I love it! So much so that I'm neglecting the Loquat and Twitter! If you're on Pinterest too, come follow me and watch me over-pin!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Holy Week

As you know, Pascha and Easter don't often fall at the same time, and this year they're a week apart. So we the Orthodox are just now beginning Holy Week. And, as usual, I'm signing off for the week. Goodness knows how much or how little I'll actually be on the computer, but as far as you know I'm gone. ;)

Yes, Mom, my phone will be on.

Blessed Holy Week to all!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bluebonnets

Nothing says "Texas" more than bluebonnet season, and although these pictures have a dearth of the lovely red Indian Paintbrush (I love that red mixed with the blue), I thought I'd post some pictures from the trip out to the cemetery to take bluebonnet pictures. Bluebonnet pictures are another Texas tradition. Texas Monthly (motto: The National Magazine of Texas) put up some irreverent ones from Texas photographers--one was particularly shocking, as it depicts a man on a mower mowing down a field of bluebonnets. Non-Texans must understand: It's against the law to even pick bluebonnets unless they're on private property. That's why the picture of them being mowed down actually caused me to gasp. Anyway, most bluebonnets are sown on the highways of Texas, so I was grateful that the family and I weren't pulled off to the side of I-35 with cars whizzing by at 90 MPH.

For the sake of privacy, I won't post pictures of the family. I did take a few pictures of just bluebonnets, and I'll post those to celebrate the season--the season of bluebonnets! Man, I love this time of year. I love being a Texan.

I was so shocked when we got out there and there was a yucca blooming! It reminded me of West Texas and spring in the local state parks. But bluebonnets aren't big out west, so I loved this lovely meeting of my two favorite places. 

A good shot of just bluebonnets ... and grass. The cute little five-pronged leaves belong to the bluebonnets. So wish I could pick them because they'd look lovely on my icon corner. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Coptic Orphans

Post, post, post. All I do is post blog posts. But this one's important. Coptic Orphans is an organization that allows you to sponsor a fatherless Coptic (Egyptian) Christian child. If you don't follow the news, life has been particularly hard for Coptic Christians lately: Persecutions have been stepped up, and their beloved Pope Shenouda III recently died. It's very hard to be a Christian in Egypt. So view this lovely video and consider sponsoring a lovely child. :)

Everything's Coming Up Roses

One of my homeschool families presented me with roses from the garden yesterday. I know I'm posting about nothing but roses lately, but I still wanted to share. I like roses. 

I transferred this beauty into the vase on the icon corner table. You can see the shorter roses from my own garden in the background. 

A yellow rose of Texas!

All the roses, surrounded by my extensive headscarf collection and a turban squash. 

One of my favorites--a lovely white rose!
This family also took me out to a hillside covered in bluebonnets to take family pictures. It was wonderful. I feel like I'm finally recovering from the failure of art school and getting back into taking pictures. :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

After a Weekend Away ...

... the pink roses are droopy and fading ... 
... but the yellow rose from the side of the house is going strong!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Newest Addition to my Icon Corner

Springtime in Texas came in mid-February, and the rosebushes responded accordingly. 




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Beginner's Musings on Forgiveness

Some of you may recall this post that I put up after an altercation with a former friend. It's pretty self-righteous and angry. Being self-righteous and angry were my forms of defense after the affront. But time is a good healer, and eventually you start thinking of other things besides the "horrible" things someone did to you--things which are frankly to be expected by anyone who dares to hold an opinion on anything. After all, Christ said, "Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say every evil against you falsely for my sake," so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that when I express a pro-life opinion that someone from my infinitely more liberal past doesn't handle it well.

That said, that doesn't mean the occasion doesn't pop up in my mind and sting a little bit. And I don't want to be self-righteous and angry anymore. I know that in the incident I didn't do anything wrong, but I'll keep doing wrong if I continue being angry or proud of myself for what I said. Yet I'm sad when I remember--I'm sorry things had to end that way. I end up in my room, sitting on my bed, facing the "informal" icon corner (the official one's in the living room, and there's a more laid-back one next to our bed), and praying for my former friend. That's really the only thing that can calm the turmoil in my heart--and the pain, and the inadequacy.

I don't think I'll ever forget telling my godmother that I didn't like this person anymore, but I still loved her. And once when I was praying for her about a week after the incident--when the hurt was still strong--my heart expanded and I realized, "This is how God loves." God does not hate unbelievers, nor is He eager to condemn them--He loves all His creation and desires that all be saved. If I continue in self-righteousness and anger, how can I hope for what we pray for in the Lord's Prayer? "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." I was listening to a podcast this morning talking about a teacher who didn't care much for people "below" him. When this teacher came to talk to the author of the podcast and ignored the cook he was with, the author apologized for his colleague's behavior. The cook, who was unusually wise, said that she loved him because Jesus loved him--the author said that this made her the only person at the school who loved him. I thought of this as I was praying for my old friend just today. I don't want to say that I was proud of myself for having such Christ-like love--far from it. I'm the one who constantly struggles with anger and hatred--prayer is all I have to turn to. I'm petty, I'm bitchy, I'm self-righteous, I'm proud, I'm embarrassed by those I should love, I refuse to forgive--the Jesus prayer and a prayer rope are all I have sometimes. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on Anonymous."

I will have been Orthodox five years this Pascha, and I'm still a horrible Christian. That's why this is a beginner's musings on forgiveness. When I think of all the eloquent writings on forgiveness the Holy Fathers have written, I know I'll always be a beginner. Lord have mercy on me and have mercy on my old, dear friend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All Girls Allowed

I became aware of a group called All Girls Allowed through Twitter and have just now signed up for their newsletters. They asked me to share their site with at least three people, and I figure that since I have at least three gentle readers of the Loquat, I'd share the video on their website here. Consider helping them. :)


How to End Gendercide (short) from All Girls Allowed on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More Homeschooling Shenanigans

I met with my other family this morning, and it was not shockingly quite different from my first family. Consider this: Both families have four children, but my first family's youngest is 5 and learning phonics ... my second family's youngest is 9 months and learning how to drive her mother bonkers. So I did a lesson with the oldest (6) while Mom worked on lunch, the middle two showed off how well they could make loud noises, and baby (somehow) slept.

I admit that I'm pretty indulgent with the children. If they want to go off on a tangent and ask me things like which Hot Wheels I think is the fastest, I know I certainly don't mind. Just as long as they get the lesson done eventually I'm okay. Sometimes they need a tiny mental break anyway, just like any person. The mother talked to me after lessons about how she knows people who are putting children as young as 18 months in school, so I'd like to think she agrees with me on letting the child set the pace in learning.

I gotta tell ya, I love this! I wish I could do it every morning of the week instead of just Monday and Tuesday. That said, I think my husband likes my short schedule because he wants me to able to take care of the house and take photos and knit and garden--things he considers necessary to the household economy. It feels weird coming from me (who used to be an ultra-feminist), but I enjoy being a housewife. I guess anyone really can change. Anyway, I'll need to be super-duper moral support for Chris while he's in nursing school, so I might as well be content with my life!

I need to go thank St. Ia for a successful day. What a wonderful saint!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My New "Job"

The word "job" implies I'm getting paid, but it's more succinct than "My new thing I'm doing right now to ward off a life of incredible laziness."

To the left is St. Ia, who, if you can't read for yourself on the icon, is a martyr of the Boxer Rebellion in China. She has a rather distinct designation: She was twice-martyred. If that sounds weird, it's because it is. The Boxers buried her alive, but she was dug up by a sympathetic non-believer. When the Boxers found her again, they beat her to death.

St. Ia has been special to us for some time. When Chris was a teacher, she was sort of his extra patron saint because she was a teacher herself. Her intercessions helped him find his first job in Dallas. But Chris is, to put it weirdly, vehemently not a teacher anymore. Still, we keep her icon in our icon corner and think fondly of her for all her prayers have done for us.

It seems that the time has come for St. Ia to be my extra patron saint: My new "job" is assisting homeschooling families from church. I'm not quite sure how the desire to help started, but when thinking about having children I seemed to be getting the response of, "I have something different in mind for you for now." (Goodness knows what the future holds--the present is good enough to spend my time on.) Anyway, my personal affection for homeschooling was overwhelming, and seeing myself with a dearth of children to homeschool myself, I asked Chris to send out a message on the church's email list to offer my volunteer services. Now I'm helping two families as well as being the helper (and all that that implies) for preschool Sunday school.

One family is on spring break, so I won't see them until next week. Meanwhile, I met with the first family today! I think it was an all-around success, although I was so bushed when I got home that I napped for about four hours. (That's okay--the family in question takes the afternoons off too.) I'm not too surprised that it was a bit hard on me considering I've spent my life since college as a lazy housewife (not that all housewives are lazy--just that I am). Perhaps with the prayers of St. Ia I will not only be an effective tutor but also not completely wiped out by lunchtime. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Continuation of a Long Term Bit: Arkansas

Being a devoted fan of a team gives you some nifty built in travel excuses. North Texas has been in the Sun Belt basketball tournament championship game for four out of the last five years, you say? Said tournament is in the noted tourist trap and place of mild historic interest of Hot Springs, Arkansas, you say? Well, of course, we must make this journey! It's almost a civic duty, you know.


Hot Springs has a lovely convention center with a nice little arena on one end. Great venue for a tournament.

This is Karen Aston, first year head coach of North Texas women's basketball, worker of minor miracles. She inherited a team that had won all of five games the previous year, and how they did that I'm not sure I can explain. Calling them inept is an insult to the talent and work ethic of all things inept. With almost the exact same group of players they won 15 games, beating the likes of Alabama and Oregon State and played with an intensity that I didn't think they were capable of last year. It was as dramatic a reclamation as I have seen in any sport on any level from one year to the next. Sadly, they seemed to hit a bit of a wall in February, winning only once the entire month. In Hot Springs, they beat Troy University fairly handily in the first round but lost an absolute heart breaker to Florida Atlantic in the quarterfinals. During that game I realized something. You can call me a prude if you want, I don't much care, but I'm not a big fan of the whole dance team idea. I just think it's a little crude. I will, however, now consider these young ladies

to be downright wholesome after seeing a performance by these young ladies.

The guy sitting next to me said "they forgot their poles." I don't think I can add anything to what he said.



That sad, dejected soul above is the man, the myth, the legend, Tony Mitchell. He could very well be the greatest athlete to set foot in Denton, TX since Joe Greene himself. A defensive machine, he will have more blocks in a single game than lesser men will have in a lifetime. If he comes back next year (before the tournament he said he was leaning that way, but had yet to really weigh everything and make a decision) do yourself a favor and come to a game to see this young man up close. Sure, you'll be able to catch him on television for years while he's in the NBA, but up close and in person makes you appreciate what you're seeing so much more. Also, you can get really close seats to UNT basketball for way cheaper than you can get not so close seats to an NBA game.
As you probably guessed looking at that picture, UNT lost in the final. To add insult to injury, it was to a team that had a half melted McDonald's character for a mascot. I mean, really, what is that? And just so I can offer visual proof that I was on national TV

See the one guy wearing red in the top right corner of the picture? Right below him in a white shirt is me, head slightly tilted.

Enough basketball, time to talk Hot Springs.
In an earlier post you could see the view from the little apartment we rented. We were situated on lovely Lake Hamilton just across the way from some of the fancy old houses that used to host illegal casinos back when the town was a playground for the rich and powerful. It's easy to see how it used to be such an important place. It's an area of great natural beauty, and spa towns have been a big deal for centuries.


The national park visitor center is in one of the old bath houses, and they've kept everything pretty much how it was back when.

That is the men's bathing room. While waiting for their turn in a tub, the men would sit around in their towels lounging on those marble benches around the fountain. Imagine the things that have been said in that room, the deals struck and political bargains made. It all seems very Roman to me.
There is kitsch enough and to spare across the street from Bath House Row, and as my dad has said about Hot Springs, it is a town well versed in the art of separating you from your money, but don't let that distract you from the interesting things it does have to offer.