Friday, December 25, 2009

Christ is Born!

We got a snowstorm for Christmas this year, and it has created all sorts of last minute improvisations and changes in Christmas plans.

Oh, I don't think it will end up being quite as severe as the predictions, but it isn't over yet, so who knows? But it means that our family's celebration is looking a little different this year. Last night's Christmas liturgy was cancelled at our church, and we will not be able to make our annual Christmas Day trip to SW Minnesota (where no travel is advised at the moment). The Transposzing men spent a good chunk of Christmas Eve day moving snow - and they will likely spend a bit of Christmas Day doing the same thing.

Having a bit more time on my hands than I planned to have yesterday, I was able to take care of a few chores at home, and on and off checked Facebook to see how friends were faring with their Christmas celebrations. I was particularly struck by the post of one FB friend, a Lutheran pastor serving in a rural midwestern parish: "I hate shoveling. Street plow didn't come until noon, had to shovel again. Parents couldn't come, hospital call and a death. Merry Christmas."

Despite it's crabby overtones, this post sort of helped to clarify my thoughts about this year's celebration: How great a thing it is that God comes to us, anyway.

God's coming to us in the form of the infant Jesus born in a cave and lying in a feed trough rather rains all over our ideals of what Christmas is supposed to be. It's a good reminder of how distorted some of our ideals have become. The giving and receiving of perfect Christmas gifts, setting the perfect Christmas table, serving the perfect menu to the perfect guest list, and recreating the Christmas celebrations of our youth are not intrinsically bad notions. But it rather changes the focus from what God has done for us at Christmas to what we do at Christmas. And so it seems that sometimes we need a good Christmas snowstorm to shake things up a bit and to help us re-focus.

"Today salvation has come into the world," the Church says. And God's Word Made Flesh comes to us - today - despite our frustrations and our anxieties, and despite our unreadiness and our fears, and despite our disappointments and our failed plans and our cabin fever. God's great gift of Himself has been given to us and for us, anyway.

And that is precisely the point.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Memory Eternal

Folks in the Midwest Diocese of the OCA - and Orthodox Christians all over the country were saddened to learn today of the sudden and unexpected death of our heirarch, Archbishop +Job.

It is suspected that he died of pneumonia, after having been ill all week. He was only 63.

Archbishop Job was well-loved in our diocese and throughout the OCA. He visited my own parish several times in recent years and I regret that I never had the chance to meet him personally. It was an opportunity I sought, but which never presented itself, as I had heard such wonderful things about him. But our boys were each priveleged to serve at Divine Liturgy with him.

May his memory be eternal.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another Blogger Hangs It Up

I read with a little sadness this past weekend that blogpal, Dixie, has decided to discontinue her blog. Hers was one of the first convert blogs I discovered a few years ago when I began nosing around seriously into Orthodoxy - long before I could actually envision myself as an Orthodox Christian. It was helpful for me - and it has remained helpful to me in one way or another all this time.

So I want to offer a brief and public word of thanks to Dixie, whose words and work have made a difference to me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold Comfort Coop

Well, it's really winter in Minnesota now.

After an incredibly warm and wonderful November, reality came blowing in on Tuesday evening. High winds, snow, freezing temperatures - blizzard warnings for areas just south of the metro area where we live.

I've spent lots of time reading online about appropriate accomodations for chickens in the wintertime. We prepared our coop by the book: insulated the henhouse, we wrapped the open bottom open level of the henhouse in plastic, leaving the small pop door open for ventilation, installed a mason-jar light fixture in the lower level of the henhouse, bought a base heater for our galvanized waterer, and stuffed the henhouse with extra straw. According to all of the information I could find, if you do these things your chickens should be just fine in very cold temps.

Still, on Tuesday night when the wind was whistling and the temps were plummeting, I worried about the ladies. DearHusband went down to the henhouse just before bed to check on them. He reported that all was calm and quiet in the henhouse. The girls were all settled in and it was just sort of peaceful in there - warm in comparison to the gusty windchills outside. Today he swapped the 60 watt bulb in the fixture for a 100 watt (because he thought Lucy looked cold).

I just went down and snapped this picture of the ladies in their winter digs. (Miss Betty, giving me the old stink-eye, appears to have gotten the hang of balancing that big old booty on a small roost.) The temp outside is -5 according to the thermometer outside - but +14 according to the thermometer inside the henhouse. With those nice coats of down and feathers, I think they will be just fine.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Scenes From Lefse Day

An Old Norwegian Lefse Recipe
Yew tak yust ten big potatoes. Den yew cook dem til dar done. Yew add to dis sum sveet cream. And by cups it measures vun. Den yew steal tree ounce of booter, an vit two fingers, pinch sum salt. Yew beat dis werry lightly, if it ain’t goot--it iss yer own fault. Den yew roll dis tin, vit flour. Light brown on stove yew bake. Now call in all Scandihuvians tew try da fine lefse yew make.

We try to make a batch of lefse every year before Christmas. Last year we learned that as much fun as it is to make lefse, it's even more fun to make it with a few friends.

Because December Saturday schedules got filled up pretty quickly this year, Lefse Day became an after-work affair, Lefse Evening - and it was a long one! This year our gathering fell on the night of the first really good snowstorm of the winter. Traffic was bad, the roads were bad, and some forgot stuff at home and it could have been a really crabby event - but it was alot of fun. YoungerSon even got into the lefse action this year, while ElderSon happily attended a hockey game with a buddy instead.

Here are a few photos (cross-posted from FB).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On the Feast of St. Nicholas

"The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; therefore, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, intercede with Christ God that our souls may be saved."