Chamomile

Our garden has grown tremendously in the month or so since I planted it, and I am overdue for an update.  One of the pleasant surprises each spring is what may pop up without being planted.  This year the major crop was chamomile.  Huge bunches sprang up and I successfully moved almost all of them to the hill behind our house.  Soon after we harvested the flowers and dried them, and now I have been drinking chamomile tea (actually chamomile mixed with rooibos, a very tasty combination) every night ever since.  Here are a few photos of Vaia helping with the harvest and replanting:

 

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June 30th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

The Angel In The Floor

One day while in the altar at Sts. Anargyroi Vasili said to me “have you seen the angel in the floor?”.  He pointed at a seemingly random pattern in the marble, roughly between the prothesis and the altar table, so not really visible from outside.  And there it was, clear as day – the outline of an angel.  How did it get there?  I will leave it up to you to form an opinion.  It may well just be random, but I am going with what Hunter wrote in Ripple: “that was not made by the hands of men”.  Below are photos Demetri took.  One is unadorned and the other is enhanced to help you make it out.

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June 23rd, 2012 by Fr. Greg

The Running A’s

Recently, while looking up something about Vida Blue and then finding all kinds of other baseball-related stuff I wanted to look up, I learned that the American League team record for most stolen bases in a season belongs to the 1976 Oakland Athletics.  This surprised me because the A’s were on the decline in 1976 from the team that had dominated baseball in the first part of the decade, and would go on to lose close to 100 games in 1977.  They did finish 2 games out in the loss column to the Kansas City Royals, who were beginning their run, but the A’s were already feeling the effects of owner Charlie Finley’s attempt to avoid the inevitable onset of free agency that would come with the end of the reserve clause.  Reggie, Blue Moon Odom, Ken Holtzman and others were gone, while players nearing the end of their career like Nate Colbert and even Willie McCovey were acquired.

The A’s locked up the A.L. west from 1971-1975, winning every division title and three straight pennants and world series in the middle of that run.  In ’72 they beat the Tigers, the last gasp of the 1968 World Series team, to win the pennant and then defeated the fledgling Big Red Machine.  The next year they beat the Orioles team which they had lost to in 1971 and were taken to 7 games by a Mets team that finished 82-79.  In 1974 they again beat the O’s and had an easy time with a Dodgers team that would lose a few more World Series by the end of the decade.  1975 saw things come to an end when the Red Sox swept them in the ALCS.  They were competitive in 1976, but that was the end of enjoyable baseball in Oakland until the Billy Ball era.

So, the 1976 team…while they didn’t win the division, they did swipe an astonishing 341 bases, an A.L. record which still stands.  Billy North had 75, Bert Campaneris stole 54, Don Baylor, acquired for Reggie, was right behind Campy with 52, Claudell Washington had 37, Phil Garner stole 35, Larry Lintz had 31, and Matt Alexander and Sal Bando both had 20 steals.  They may no longer have been “The Swinging A’s”, but they were definitely The Running A’s.  More here.

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June 18th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Pet Blessing Pictures

The pet blessing was a great experience.  Sandie, owner of Pets Gone Healthy, held an open house/expo on Saturday with vendors, speakers, workshops and all kinds of stuff related to taking good care of pets.  At noon we had a blessing in the empty space next to her store.  There were about 25 or so dogs as well as a cat and even a hamster.  I got to meet Tallulah-Belle, Pumpkin, Tori and many other delightful beasts.  Here are a few pictures:

 

 

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June 11th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

All Saints…And A Remnant

I recently updated the article on the Our Faith page of the Sts. Anargyroi website and the subject was All Saints day, which in the Orthodox world is celebrated the Sunday after Pentecost.  You can read it here.  These small write-ups I do every so often on the parish site are not meant to be definitive but rather to be informative and to make us think.  The Wiki article, which is a very good summary of the various All Saints traditions, goes more in depth into the Leo the Wise story and mentions that the all saints commemoration was originally a commemoration of all martyrs and that Leo, with his dedication of a church for all saints, got the ball rolling on expanding the scope of the day.

While printing out the Orthros service for this Sunday today at church I was pleased as punch to find a remnant of the old (pre-9th century) commemoration; the troparion (theme song, basically) for the feast is actually a commemoration of the martyrs, not all saints, and thus connects it with the original intent of the day.  I imagine this hymn predates the All Saints practice and has stuck with us through all of these years.  Below is the Fr. Seraphim Dedes translation.

Your Church is arrayed in the holy blood of Your Martyrs who witnessed throughout the world, as though in purple and fine linen. Through them she cries to You, Christ our God, ?Send down to Your people Your tender love, grant peace from above to Your com? monwealth, and to our souls Your great mercy.?

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June 8th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

More Garden

Welcome new readers!  My good friend Fr. Peter Preble, noticing my appalling lack of initiative in blogging, has called me out on Facebook and Twitter and thrown down the gauntlet, with the challenge being to blog regularly.  Challenge accepted!  I notice the times when I do blog consistently are when there is some oversight, such as Fr. Peck‘s 40 Days of Blogging challenge every Advent.

So…back to the garden.  My previous post outlined the main planting.  I have since added a few things:

-I excitedly bought a “curry plant” which, upon reading the fine print, turns out not to be something that will give me an ingredient for curry powder but rather a plant whose leaves are used in potpourri and decorative arrangements.  This actually worked out rather nicely – I am trying to fill up the hill above the retaining wall in our backyard and this stuff looks to spread around.

-I planted some parsley, cilantro and rosemary for the container portion of the garden.  I don’t do much grilling but when I do I plan to use the rosemary – it seems to have anticarcinogenic properties among many other beneficial uses.  I replanted my thyme plant but sadly do not have any sage, so I can’t complete the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme quartet.

-I added a few less exciting things to the garden like bell peppers but also added some old school lemon cucumbers as well as some decorative gourds, with the thought that the girls will like them and we can put them on the front porch or whatever.  Actually, can they be consumed?  Let’s see…my internet searches have turned up mostly things like “no, they are just for decoration” and a few recipes as well as remarks saying that there is very little to consume in any case with most of them.  I am going to go with “no” for now unless convinced otherwise.

The final thing I bought was a trellis or cage for the cucumber section.  I tend to pack a lot of plants in a fairly small area, and before you know it the garden is a jumbled mess, with the cucumber and pumpkin plants snaking themselves all over the place.  I actually have to lift up leaves to find cucumbers when they are ready.  So I bought this contraption, which can either be folded into a squared cylinder like a tomato cage or folded out into one long wall or sheet, as a way of clearing up the confusion on the ground.  One of my gardening gurus told me that cucumbers love to climb.  I at first had my doubts – wouldn’t the cukes get to heavy and fall off?  Then again, with the pickling cucumbers that I prefer to grow, you actually want to harvest before they get really big, because then they are very seedy inside.  I will post pictures once I rig up the contraction – probably in a few weeks when the plants begin to take off.

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June 6th, 2012 by Fr. Greg