Friday, March 27, 2015

Hungry Friday #3

Chris is asleep, so it's my job to bake this week's bread. Soon enough, the sweet smell of the brown sugar cinnamon mix I got will be wafting through the house, making everyone happy. Today I'm using our double loaf pan in the bread machine, and we'll give one of the two loaves away to a neighbor. After all, this is the prayer we pray every Friday and Saturday night:
Bless, O Lord,
this food we are about to eat,
and we pray you, O God,
that it may be good for our body and soul
and if there is any poor creature
hungry or thirsty walking the road
may God send them in to us
so that we can share the food with them,
just as Christ shares His gifts with all of us. 
(H/T to Celtic Daily Prayer.)

But until fruit and bread is served, we fast. Not too hard for Chris today, since he got off work at 7AM and is now getting his hard-earned sleep.

Chris likes the rituals we've created for our itsy-bitsy family. He feels that fasting is necessary for us simply because Jesus said it was. As for me, with my plethora of illnesses, I feel like this is a fast I can do. I admit to drinking Starbucks this morning, but my pills create such an acidic environment in my gut that I have to eat or drink just a little bit of something substantial to keep from getting wildly sick. Chris also likes Sabbath because he doesn't think about work, he doesn't think about school, and all he has to do is to catch up with the books he doesn't have time for any other day of the week.

I like these rituals too. Every other Friday, I have to become coherent enough to put a bread mix in the machine and set it to work. That's a big deal for someone who's frequently too tired to move. It does make me feel a touch valuable when I don't do too much in the house (the Roomba does all the heavy work). When I'm done here, I'll probably pick up some stuff strewn about the living room. In the evening, I'll light the candles, say the Shabbat prayer above (since I'm the lady of the house), and Chris and I will talk. There's something about just having bread and fruit and cheese that makes you want to linger at the table--a fancier dish would require more attention on the food.

I wonder if I'm doing Sabbath in the spirit for which it was created. Yes, it was created for a sort of holy rest, but I'm setting up so many rules around it that I wonder if I've missed the point entirely. I like that we do the whole daily office together on Saturdays when Chris doesn't work and at least part of it when he does work. I still think laundry and dishwashing should be avoided. My ideal Sabbath is enjoying simple meals together while chatting and sitting on the couch reading books. Oh, and the blessed Sabbath nap. Can't forget that. Then Sunday comes (and I hopefully won't have pinkeye) so we can go to church and break Sabbath.

Does all this seem weird? Even I'm not 100% sure why we're doing this. But it's working, somehow. Anyway, gut Shabbos and Hungry Friday to all!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hey, How 'bout a Post on Photography?!

Doesn't photography sound great? My mom and I are both photography fiends right now. She's got a website to set up using my old Olympus point & shoot. I used to say that it's better to get a great point & shoot for, like, $400 than to get a dSLR that's a bit of a pain in the butt to use. But now that I have the Olympus PEN, I recommend basically the best of both worlds.

Take my PEN for instance: I can use the manual settings like I learned on my Nikon, but it also has the artsy options of my old Olympus. I personally like the artsy pinhole setting, which makes images like this:
Actually, what made this image was perfect lighting, a weird window over our door, and lots of money for art.
I haven't done much in the way of true pinholes in a while, but I think I'd like to. My Diana is a pinhole when you take the lenses off, but that's all I have. And I have shaky hands and I hate tripods and goodness only knows if this gigantic shutter release will actually do anything. I need something that I can attach to a tripod (yuck), move the "shutter" out of the way, and let sit there until I'm done. Basically, I need a T (time) setting. Every camera seems to have B (bulb), but I only have one camera where I can put the button down and walk away for .... days, really. Anyway, I'd like some analog cameras for that purpose.

As for digital, I think my oeuvre is the light painting:
Sometimes shaky hands are helpful. 
I've seen a lot of light paintings that use a long exposure to capture lights moving around, but I feel like I'm the only one manipulating the camera around a bunch of still lights. My Nikon can record the light for 30 seconds, but the PEN can do it for a full minute. That said, I prefer that my shutter speed be for about 8 seconds or it's the visual version of sheer cacophony. Then I take them to Lightroom and put wacky filters on them:
Voila! Purple!
Although the last thing I probably need is another camera, I need those special pinhole cameras. I also need a trip to somewhere that's shiny at night. I'm just not good at other photography. That's okay.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Still Testing the Waters

Before he departed for work, Chris said to me, "I like Sabbath, but I like this idea better." The mysterious this idea is Hungry Friday, which I stole from the Episcopal Relief & Development daily Lenten meditations. In fact, you can read it word-for-word in the last post. So, like many things we've recently added to our lives, it's not original. There's no harm though, I think, in taking inspiration from someone else's clever ideas.

I think Chris's first Sabbath was a little overwhelming for him. What can I say? It's hard to disconnect from the world for a day. I don't think I helped him, sadly. I hope that this week will be different: Less sitting around studying heavy tomes, more board games. We have boatloads of board games that have never been played. We polished off Sabbath the last time with a game of checkers, and I wish there had been more of that: more laughing, more talking, more telling the dog he couldn't play because this was a two-person only game (the downside of sitting on the floor).

But this is not the story of Sabbaths future and past--this is about the new thing we're trying. I stopped eating after our Thursday night meal, much like the guy who introduced the notion to us did. Chris works tonight, and since his work is strenuous he'll have a meal over the course of his shift. Together, we shan't eat until Friday's meal of fruit and bread. The bread-making is a little upside-down: When Chris works weekends and has to be there Friday night, he makes a Mark Bittman sandwich loaf which is SO GOOD. On the Fridays he comes home from work and crashes until afternoon, I take a box of King Arthur Flour bread mix (golden brioche this week--just one stick of butter!), put it in the bread machine, and let the magic happen. All that to say that Chris works harder than I do on most things. ;)

So why do this? Chris and I both agree that fasting is important--it's a post-Orthodox thing. Problem is, we just haven't been doing it. So this Friday is our feeble attempt to right that. I also have motives. When it was at its coldest, I'd take my Anglican rosary and sit in the garage, praying to the Virgin. I didn't wear shoes or socks or a coat, and I began to get a feel for what the homeless experience on cold days with no warmth. Hungry Friday is akin to that, and yet it terrifies me. I always excused myself from fasting because my insulin levels are twice what they should be, but it occurred to me that there are people on the streets who have diabetes and no food plus no place to store their insulin. Do I want to know what suffering is? Try that on for size. I know that fasting one day a week won't give me great insight into what it's like to be hungry--I don't pretend it will. Choosing to be without one day and living without every day are two different things entirely. I hope I can get something out of this besides an inflated head.

Don't worry--we won't be turning off our phones or computers--that's Sabbath stuff. It'll be a normal day, except only water and tea are allowed. Anyway, wish us luck!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Eine Gute Woche!

"A guten voch!" is what Mirka's sister Devory shouts after Mirka and Rochel when they leave her apartment after spending Shabbos there in Barry Deutsch's Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite. (Seriously, you gotta read these books! They're so great!) It basically means "have a good week", and I say it to you after celebrating a ... well ... okay Sabbath here in Tejas.

My vision of Sabbath conceivably lasts too long: It's supposed to take up all of Saturday and end after church Sunday morning. If you couldn't tell from the picture I posted Friday night, it sort of starts Friday night (or afternoon if Chris is working) with the bread, fruit, and cheese meal I showed you. However, I'm still free to get the Facebook out of my system until midnight.

But sometimes the best laid plans go awry. My sore throat continues to worsen, and Chris had a day at work that was downright disturbing (and no, I can't go into details), so I ended up on the phone with my mom last night, effectively ending Sabbath. And here I am now, on the computer before I've said Morning Prayer or gone to church, which I wouldn't do anyway because of my blasted throat. Insomnia's just a hoot. Where would I be without it? Not up at 4AM writing blog posts, that's for certain!

We're still sorting this out, but the last two weeks of Sabbath were substantially better than this one. I don't know why. I still prayed and read and ate simple meals and rested, but it lacked the revolutionary feel of that first week. I still maintain that the best part of Sabbath is getting away from Facebook for one measly day, so that was a success. But rather than bore you with the details of why I don't think it worked (my med change? lack of desire to read? I don't know), here's something that caught my attention last week:

Fridays are hungry days. Most weeks I fast after dinner on Thursday until
dinner on Friday. I fast because I practice a rule of life that requires it. I've
found no better practice to remind me of the suffering of the hungry and
my need to live within the limits of simplicity. Fasting is a way of making room--room for God, space to help us understand the cravings that driveus to want more than enough. When time allows it, I bake bread on my hungry Fridays. I use a recipe
that will require my time and attention for the whole day and yields
two loaves. With one loaf I break my fast, savoring the flavors of this
sacramental food. I give the second loaf away to a neighbor, a friend
or to someone in need. This practice serves as a reminder that there is
always enough if we live within our limits. By going hungry for one
day each week, I can make room in my life to answer Isaiah's call to fast.
In hungering in solidarity and sharing bread with the hungry, I feel
a partnership in God's work of loosening the bonds of injustice.
- Ragan Sutterfield

That's from the Episcopal Relief & Development's Lenten meditations. They've been a joyful read, and I really liked the idea behind "hungry Fridays". That said, I've been reluctant to fast recently because of my crazy insulin levels. But reading this meditation, it occurred to me that there are people who don't regularly get a meal who have diabetes. If I feel discomfort over having nothing just because my insulin's high ... what's worse? So I'll at least try hungry Fridays, adding it to the whole calendar of the Sabbath weekend. And maybe one day I'll make it to church, too!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Night Fruit and Bread!

... and cheese!

I'm beginning to feel like I should rename this thing "Chandler's Sabbath Blog" and give up the Loquacious Loquat nonsense. So do forgive me--I swear I'll have something interesting to write about later (unless you want me to sit down right now and tell you about my throat infection).

Before I've turned off the computer, I want to show you what my ideal Sabbath meal looks like. I won't go into details about it now (probably will on Sunday), but here's a nice picture of our dining table.


Note that the Sabbath candles are lit (even though it's not sundown yet--you do what you can when your husband has to report to work by 6:30). Fruit, bread, and cheese: A nice, simple way to welcome the Sabbath rest. And big kudos to Chris, who took time out of his busy schedule today to make his awesome sandwich bread.

Shabbat Shalom to everyone, and don't forget to set your clocks forward Saturday night!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Prescription: Get Out of the House!!

I'm going to try to gently interweave our second Sabbath experience with my psychiatrist appointment today, but forgive me if I fall short.

I apparently don't get out enough. My psychiatric nurse practitioner does not see staying in for months on end as a good thing. It's not like I don't try. Saturday was both Sabbath and an Ember Day (although I'm not sure many Episcopalians knew that). It was also my bebe niece's first birthday party. It was also viciously snowy. I was also withdrawing from Neurontin, making the morning of Sabbath sheer hell. So Chris, fully awake for the first Sabbath experience, made the trip to the drugstore to get me my prescription. Here's a brief summary of his report after he returned:

Snow + Roads = Possible Totaled Car and/or Instant Death

So, alas, I can still only say that I haven't seen my niece since she was two weeks old. Sorry, num-num. Tia Chandler still loves you. 

Lots of lovely Sabbath resting went on, and I finally awoke from my second nap with my Neurontin in full swing and me no longer withdrawing. Between naps on the couch, much reading went on as well: Apparently, everyone thought the Jews were lazy for taking a whole day off of work. How times change, huh? What would the ancient Greeks think of this whole weekend nonsense? Except for my prescription and some pre-sliced ham and cheese, nothing was bought: We ate in (Chris makes a mean grilled cheese, by the way), we avoided going out in the cold, we did the entire Daily Office, and we ended the day with a brutal game of checkers. Pretty good, and next week it's back to me being by myself while Chris observes the Sabbath by being a day-sleeper. 

I don't really start Sabbath until midnight Friday night. Then I put my phone on airplane mode and turn on some hymns for sleeping to. Unless I happen to be awake during the eleven o'clock hour, I cannot comment on Namesake or even look at its Saturday page (not that it matters--I get the Patreon preview anyway). We break the Sabbath Sunday morning, preferably by going to church and taking Communion. Alas, only Chris got to church this weekend, so I read morning prayer by myself. Then I broke the Sabbath with the horrible realization that I'd gotten 32 emails the day before (the week before it was only 20). I'm now on a mission to whittle down how many emails I get in a day. 

Then today: Monday. Texas Independence Day. Shrink Day. The weather was fine, so there was no postponing it, not that I wanted to. My NP wanted me to track my moods on an app (pretty neato that those things exist, no?), and the end result was the discovery that I am a depressed mess. Changes were made to my medicine routine, we talked about the Marfa Lights (which I've totally seen, by the way), and the suggestion was made that I make myself get out of the house at least once a week. The phrase "fake it till you make it" was used. So I'm pouring over the church bulletin for this week. I've already missed the meeting of Crafty Hearts, the knitting/crochet/sewing/quilting/cross-stitch/whatever the hell you want group thanks to the time of my shrink appointment. I may try to go to Eucharist tomorrow while Chris sleeps. Wednesday holds the prospect of evening prayer, Eucharist, and a brown bag dinner with book study ... Wednesday also holds the prospect of more snow, so we'll see how that goes. 

So I'll try to get out more. I'm lonely anyway. But I think I'll still stay in on Sabbath days.