Monday, April 30, 2012

Maui Diary 3 - An Upcountry Garden

King Protea buds
The Kula Botanical Garden is in the part of Maui called Upcountry. It is conveniently located just far enough down the hill from the top of Haleakala Volcano to be warm and out of the wind.
While Mr. Glad dozed on a bench I wandered the paths with my tiny notebook and scribbled the names from whatever markers I could find, of strange plants from all over the world. Gradually I thawed out from the high-elevation freezer experience, and breathed the oxygen-rich air of the thick plantings.

banksia prionotes
This west side of the volcano is relatively dry, as the rain that blows in from the east stops at the volcano and falls on the other side. This makes the Upcountry an agreeable climate for species from South Africa and Australia, such as the proteas and their relatives the banksias.

This Orange Banksia (at right), banksia prionotes, was white and not orange when I took this picture, because the florets on its spike had not fully opened, but I found a close-up on Wikipedia showing the collection of little flowers, called an inflorescence, with not quite all of them opened.
Orange Banksia

The full opening up of the florets is called anthesis and occurs over several days, spreading from bottom to top.

Some of the plants in the garden were unmarked, and will have to remain anonymous for now, like this red one. It would have taken me many more hours or days than we had allotted to thoroughly investigate the wealth of God's creation represented here.

Paperbark Tree

The Paperbark Tree, Melaleuca quinquenervia, is also a native of the Southern Hemisphere, but it has naturalized and can be found all over Hawaii. (In Florida, I read, it is now considered a serious weed.) I found out that there are several types of paperbarks, but they are also called simply melaleucas. Also of this species are the tea trees, from which the tea tree oil that some of us use medicinally is extracted.

Madagascar palm

another banksia

leucospermum catherinae
The proteas were many and varied, and what wild and dramatic plants these are! The one above is Catherine's Pinwheel.

banksia aemula
And the trees -- my goodness, I was surprised at all the trees on Maui. Did I think that they only grew coconut palms here? This closeup of an Australian tree trunk in the botanical garden was one of the few more intimate looks I got of a tree, because other than at this place we didn't spend too much time looking at plants.

Still, I will have more to say about trees and flowers in another post about this fascinating Mauian world.

(Kula Dwellable - for more info)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Maui Diary 2 - Freezing at the Rim

The rim of the now-quiet Haleakala Volcano is at 10,000 ft. elevation, and if you factor in the fierce wind that blows up there, the temperature can easily drop below freezing, especially before sunrise, which is when we felt it.

We had packed our fleece jackets so as to be ready, and I wore gloves, hat, wool scarf. (I know, some of you are thinking, What? In Hawaii?) I instinctively stiffened up to withstand the buffeting, which made it hard to hold the camera or even smile for a picture. I could see with my eyes that the sunrise was lovely, but I couldn't enjoy it; I just wanted to go somewhere safe and warm.

Eventually we did sit in the car to eat a snack, while I wondered if I would feel old and decrepit like this from now on. We took pictures of the Silversword plant, which grows on Mt. Haleakala and nowhere else in the world.

My blood was moving about as fast as the atoms in the volcanic rock, but Mr. Glad wanted to drive further up the rim for more views. I stayed in the car.

A feeling of well-being did not return for quite some time, and it was flowers and trees that brought full restoration. That story includes lots of photos and requires all of the next installment of this journal, coming soon!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Maui Diary 1 - Enchanted

View from our back door

My first view of Maui was of slender palm trees bending and blowing wildly in the strong wind, as our plane dropped down over the airport. Getting off, we didn't walk through the usual airtight and musty corridors, but into an open-air terminal with the smell of flowers wafting through.

Field of lava

Almost all the palm trees I saw over the next few hours were nice to look at, lacking the many dead fronds I'm used to seeing on those at home, and a great many of a variety of trees we saw during our stay appeared to have been trimmed carefully and maintained in such a way to highlight the natural and graceful curves of the trunks and branches.

Red Ginger

Mr. Glad and I had come to live in the soft air of Maui for eleven whole days in March, to celebrate our wedding anniversary and God's love to us and in us. What better place, where the Creation itself seems so gently embracing and kind.

We flew straight from San Francisco to Maui and didn't wander from that island, and we stayed all but one night in one condo in Kihei, on the South Shore. (The red ginger bloomed a few steps from our patio -- or as they say in Hawaii, lanai.) I loved having that home base to return to from our daily adventures. I will be writing a series of posts to scrapbook many of my impressions and our Glad doings on this island holiday.

April Has Nearly Blown Through

April is almost past, but we are still in the Paschal season, thank God, and I say, CHRIST is RISEN! Indeed He is risen!

Since Pascha I have been able to spend time debriefing myself on our trip to Maui that was completed a month ago today, and I'm ready to start sharing with the world some of the highlights of that exalted holiday excursion. The posts will be labeled with "Maui Diary," so that anyone not interested the topic can know to pass on by and wait a couple of weeks for something different.

Yes, I'm afraid I do have about two weeks' worth of posts on this one trip! we go....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You can leave Hell now.

What does The Resurrection mean? So much, so much. must know what Jesus Christ, the Saviour, has delivered you from. He has delivered you from a Hell whose Reception Room is on this world right now, in this time and generation, and its atmosphere is stinking up the place. Sin is nothing more that getting addicted to Hell and staying in its environment … and when it comes time to pass on, the sin-addicted soul is so used to the darkness that it doesn’t want to leave.
“I have thrown open your prison doors.
“Do not remain in this present darkness. Come out into the Light. Come with Me into the Springtime of your soul. Come back into the Eden where you belong.
“Wake up to My light and grace. Breathe the air of true liberty.
“This is the Day I, the Lord, have made for you. Rejoice and be glad in it.”

Read the rest of this short sermon here.
(Thanks to Anastasia)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our Continual Mistake - Quote

From Father Alexander Elchaninov:

Our continual mistake is that we do not concentrate upon the present day, the actual hour, of our life; we live in the past or in the future; we are continually expecting the coming of some special moment when our life will unfold itself in its full significance. And we do not notice that life is flowing like water through our fingers, sifting like precious grain from a loosely fastened bag.

Constantly, each day, each hour God is sending us people, circumstances, tasks, which should mark the beginning of our renewal; yet we pay them no attention, and thus continually we resist God’s will for us. Indeed, how can God help us? Only by sending us in our daily life certain people, and certain coincidences of circumstance. If we accepted every hour of our life as the hour of God’s will for us, as the decisive, most important, unique hour of our life – what sources of joy, love, strength, as yet hidden from us, would spring from the depths of our soul!

Let us then be serious in our attitude towards each person we meet in our life, towards every opportunity of performing a good deed; be sure that you will then fulfill God’s will for you in these very circumstances, on that very day, in that very hour.

Monday, April 23, 2012

being, being, being

The poem below, about being in love, is speaking to me and for me, though of course it's imperfect for that use, coming from a unique and distinct soul, with his own lonely knowings and loves.

Imperfect, but skilled and helpful, and conveying so much of the humanity that belongs to all of us. Love. God Is Love, and if we do any of this work that is the verb to love it is by His grace. If we feel anything like love coming to us or flowing from us, it is the Holy Spirit, for He fills all things.

The poem might be primarily about romantic love, which is inconstant -- not that most of us don't fail to be steadfast in all our loves. In the second stanza the lover declares his constancy, and in the last admits that his love is "in a moment gone."

But I can't help feeling the effusion and mystery of divine Love in it, and am reminded of Christ's teaching that we ought to first love our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Isn't all love, whether we are giving or taking, essentially God sharing His Life with us and among us, the Love of the Holy Trinity? He uses people to do it, but after all, we find out that it was The Lord.


I’ve been in love for long
With what I cannot tell
And will contrive a song
For the intangible
That has no mold or shape,
From which there’s no escape.

It is not even a name,
Yet is all constancy;
Tried or untried, the same,
It cannot part from me;
A breath, yet as still
As the established hill.

It is not any thing,
And yet all being is;
Being, being, being,
Its burden and its bliss.
How can I ever prove
What it is I love?

This happy happy love
Is sieged with crying sorrows,
Crushed beneath and above
Between todays and morrows;
A little paradise
Held in the world’s vice.

And there it is content
And careless as a child,
And in imprisonment
Flourishes sweet and wild;
In wrong, beyond wrong,
All the world’s day long.

This love a moment known
For what I do not know
And in a moment gone
Is like the happy doe
That keeps its perfect laws
Between the tiger’s paws
And vindicates its cause.

~ Edwin Muir

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Snails and Schist Story

with arugula flowers
A few years ago Soldier son gave me a lovely piece of schist, a rock slab that he brought from the mountains for me because he knew I would love it. And I did. It isn't the sort of stone you can use for a path or a table or anything, because it's too thin, so I leaned it against the fence for decoration.

All the snails in the area thought I had made that arrangement just for their sakes -- the perfect snail house. I think I even posted a photo of it here once before. Oh, yes, here it is, last April.

When I was trimming the honeysuckle this week I thought I would check behind my rock for snails, and this time there was a cute little colony of them. I laid the slab down on the ground so that I could take their picture, which you see here. 

I went into the house for my camera, snapped the photo, took the camera back, and got on with my pruning job. Crunch. I had stepped right on to the schist and broken it into many pieces, of which I decidedly did not want to take a picture, because it would be too sad.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Best Monday of the Year

Bright Monday
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I can see a lot of Holy Friday symbolism in this helianthemum -- 
in all the weeds I almost didn't see that the flower had bloomed. 
It's barely more than an inch in diameter.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Coming into glory for Pascha

Yes, there are still lots of flowers in my life. I'm trying to get the house -- at least the downstairs -- clean in time for Pascha so that I can bring in some flowers and have the whole thing look good and festive together.

It's been raining, and that makes the plants look refreshed and happy. This is the first time the gaudy bearded irises have bloomed. I mostly like them for their color; otherwise they are a bit messy looking for me.

The tulips are still blooming. Every night they close up, and in the daytime they open up more and more. But none of the petals have fallen off yet.

In the Dutch iris bed, these pale yellow-and-lavender flowers dominate the view for a few weeks, and later on when they are spent the cobalt variety open up.

Centranthus ruber
Our friend Art has a nursery in his back yard, and a few months ago he gave me this Centranthus ruber plant that he had propagated. It took forever to recover from being transferred into the pot in which it still lives, but now it is blooming, and coming into its common name of Red Valerian.

It appears that the kale, and arugula in the background, are making their bid for Tallest Blossoms in the Garden. About the time we turn the calendar page to May they'll be out of there and tomato plants will be in their place, so I'm letting them have their days in the sun - and rain.

Forget-me-Nots, calla lilies, cyclamen and daffodils -- I'm so happy to see them, I'm not worried at all about the hours and days of garden work that will need to be done once the rain stops. A lone and miniature red salvia bloom also greeted me this afternoon, and I can't recall even noticing what were surely profuse weeds behind it.

In only a few days the ground may dry up enough for me to dig around, and the joy of the feast will strengthen me to do it -- in every way we'll be in Bright Week!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Elder Zosima and his brother

In my reading of The Brothers Karamazov, I came this morning, Monday of Holy Week, to the part "From the Life of the Elder Zosima." The elder first relates about his older brother, who only at the age of seventeen and sick unto death, turned from anger and scoffing toward a path that might lead to repentance, and seemingly only to please his mother. But that is not an entirely bad reason.

...on Tuesday morning my brother started keeping the fast and going to church. "I'm doing it only for your sake, mother, to give you joy and peace," he said to her....But he did not go to church for long, he took to his bed, so that he had to confess and receive communion at home. The days grew bright, clear, fragrant -- Easter was late that year. All night, I remember, he used to cough, slept badly, but in the morning he would always get dressed and try to sit in an armchair. So I remember him: he sits, quiet and meek, he smiles, he is sick but his countenance is glad, joyful. He was utterly changed in spirit -- such a wondrous change had suddenly begun in him!

The young man asked forgiveness of everyone and talked about his great sin, but at the same time was so happy and full of thankfulness and exhortations, that people thought he was going mad.

Thus he awoke every day with more and more tenderness, rejoicing and all atremble with love. The doctor would come -- the old German Eisenschmidt used to come to us: "Well, what do you think, doctor, shall I live one more day in the world?" he would joke with him. "Not just one day, you will live many days," the doctor would answer, "you will live months and years, too." "But what are years, what are months!" he would exclaim. "Why count the days, when even one day is enough for a man to know all happiness. My dears, why do we quarrel, boast before each other, remember each other's offenses? Let us go into the garden, let us walk and play and love and praise and kiss each other, and bless our life."

This older brother died a few weeks after Easter, when the teller of the story, the elder Zosima, was only eight years old. He talks, now near death himself, more about his childhood, and how it was also during Holy Week that he began to see more when he went to church.

But I remember how, even before I learned to read, a certain spiritual perception visited me for the first time, when I was just eight years old. Mother took me to church by myself (I do not remember where my brother was then), during Holy Week, to the Monday liturgy. It was a clear day, and, remembering it now, I seem to see again the incense rising from the censer and quietly ascending upwards, and from above, through a narrow window in the cupola, God's rays pouring down upon us in the church, and the incense rising up to them in waves, as if dissolving into them. I looked with deep tenderness, and for the first time in my life I consciously received the first seed of the word of God in my soul. A young man walked out into the middle of the church with a big book, so big that it seemed to me he even had difficulty in carrying it, and he placed it on the analogion [lectern], opened it, and began to read, and suddenly, then, for the first time I understood something, for the first time in my life I understood what was read in God's church.

The reading was from the book of Job. And tonight I myself plan to attend this liturgy, and though I haven't seen the program for the service, I now have confidence that I will hear this same reading. How many times have I also watched the beams of light shining down when I stood in church, and even felt their heat on my face, like the warmth of God's Holy Spirit?

The Elder Zosima is a fictional character, but he is believed to be based on a real-life monk in old Russia. In the novel, where I am reading, Zosima goes on in his very moving fashion to tell his life's story: "-- and over all is God's truth, moving, reconciling, all-forgiving!"

Isn't it sweet that God should arrange for me to read this passage this morning, to help me in an unusual way to become even more receptive to His being with us tonight by means of hymns such as, "Let my prayer arise in Thy sight as incense....," and the Psalms of Ascent -- and the Holy Mysteries!

Last week our bishop was present with us, and he gave us a good word about the last days of Lent -- well, technically Lent has come to an end, but we are still in the anticipation and preparation that is Holy Week. He said that Lent is not about finding every bit of dirt in our souls, but about the bridal chamber, about discovering the great love that our Lord Jesus has for us.

Perhaps Zosima's brother went to a Bridegroom Matins service on Tuesday; we have three of them this week, and tomorrow I hope to attend at 6:30 in the morning. The Lord Himself has been filling my lamp with the oil of His Holy Spirit!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesus, unbind us!

For Orthodox Christians, today is Lazarus Saturday. We don't celebrate Easter until next week, but the raising of Lazarus gives us a glimpse of Christ's own rising from the dead a week later, and of our own coming resurrection.

This year I am a sponsor/godmother to a catechumen who will be baptized a week from today; last night I attended the last of her classes with her, and listened in on the explanation of all the services to come this week, and their meaning in our lives.

I was reminded of my own baptism five years ago, and also filled with joy in remembering and anticipating the many stops along this last stretch of the journey to Pascha. The liturgical landscape is marked by beloved hymns and prayers I have sung year after year, and which will bring me into the shining presence of Christ again, by His grace.

It's easy to be emotional today, even thinking about an experience that is not primarily emotional, because I am housebound for a relatively minor disability, and have to miss a few services this coming week. So I'm feeling sorry for myself, but trying to be thankful at the same time, and accept all the blessings God is giving me.

When God is constantly pouring down love and blessing, it's easy to get overwhelmed or confused. One day, the blessings look to any passerby to be good fortune, and another day, it takes a discerning eye to see Him, and be at peace. Even in the church services there are so many "things" going on that I can never attend to them all at once. One time I notice a particular hymn and how it blends perfectly into the whole message of the day; another time I spend most of the service in a battle just to return again and again from my distracting thoughts.

In my large parish we have numerous opportunities to participate in the services held, especially during Lent and Holy Week. I'm sure there is no one who can attend all of them, even the priests. Because circumstances change, including the circumstances of our own hearts and health, every Lent is at least a little different in how God deals with us. The upcoming week is part of that reality of having to live day-by-day and moment-by-moment, in thankfulness.

So often I come up against my own weakness and laziness. Father Stephen touches on this in his recent blog post about Lazarus, relating his meditations while sitting in the tomb of Lazarus a few years ago:

For me, he is also a sign of the universal entombment. Even before we die, we have frequently begun to inhabit our tombs. We live our life with the doors closed (and we stink). Our hearts can be places of corruption and not the habitation of the good God. Or, at best, we ask Him to visit us as He visited Lazarus. That visit brought tears to the eyes of Christ. The state of our corruption makes Him weep. It is such a contradiction to the will of God. We were not created for the tomb.

I also note that in the story of Lazarus – even in his being raised from the dead – he rises in weakness. He remains bound by his graveclothes. Someone must “unbind” him. We ourselves, having been plunged into the waters of Baptism and robed with the righteousness of Christ, too often exchange those glorious robes for graveclothes. Christ has made us alive, be we remain bound like dead men.

I sat in the tomb of Lazarus because it seemed so familiar.

Whether you celebrate tomorrow or next week, may your celebration of the Resurrection be a glorious feast.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Amazing Lenten Spinach - and Himbasha

One batch made with frozen spinach

The main ingredient is spinach, but the other ingredients in this dish, which can be a vegetable side or a spread for bread or crackers, make it very unusual and in my case, addictive. I know, eating in an uncontrolled manner is the opposite of what Lent is about, but maybe overdoing it on spinach is not as bad as some things. And to reduce temptation, so far I have made sure to take this dish to potlucks where I would be embarrassed to hover over the plate and reveal my piggishness.

The origin of pkhali is the Republic of Georgia. Though I have a Georgian acquaintance at church, I found the recipe on The Traveler's Lunchbox blog, about a year ago. I've made it several times since then, at least twice using frozen chopped spinach, and most recently with fresh spinach.

The recipe, pasted from the link above:

Spinach Pkhali

Pkhali (the 'kh' is pronounced as a deep, guttural 'h') is a whole class of Georgian vegetable dishes that straddle the line between salad and dip. The constant is the walnut sauce, and the fact that the vegetable is cut very, very finely - almost (but not quite) to a puree. 

Beet pkhali is also very popular, and is often served alongside the spinach; to prepare beets this way, wrap 3 large ones in foil and bake until soft, then peel and finely chop (or pulse in a food processor) before mixing with the sauce. 

If you'd like to substitute frozen spinach in this recipe, I imagine it would work, though I'm not sure about the amount; maybe start with a pound (half a kilo) of the frozen stuff and add more as needed to balance out the flavors. [I used 2 -10 oz. packages, which was a bit much. -GJ]

p.s. After making this again, I've decided I like a slightly smaller amount of spinach, to let the flavors of the walnut sauce really shine. Alternatively, you could use the full 2lbs and make one and a half times the sauce. 

source: adapted from Anya von Bremzen's Please to the Table
serves: 4-6 as an hors d'oeuvre or side dish

1.5-2 pounds (.75-1 kilo) fresh spinach, stems removed and washed in several      changes of water
1 cup (100g) walnuts
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
pinch cayenne
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or to taste
1 small onion, minced
3 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 1/2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh tarragon
pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spinach and cook just until tender, about one minute. Drain well and let cool. When manageable, wrap the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze until nearly dry. Chop it as finely as possible (don't use a food processor or blender, which may puree it; it should have texture) and set aside.

In a blender [I used a food processor. -GJ], combine the walnuts, garlic, coriander, fenugreek, cayenne and vinegar. Add 3 tablespoons of warm water and blend until you have a smooth, creamy sauce about the consistency of mayonnaise, adding a little more water if needed to get things moving.

Add the walnut sauce to the spinach and stir until thoroughly blended and smooth. Stir in the minced onion, cilantro and tarragon, and season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Taste again before serving and adjust the salt and vinegar if needed.

To serve, spread the pkhali on a plate and smooth the top with a spatula. With a knife, make a pattern of diamonds in the top, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds (or, in a pinch, walnut pieces). Serve with bread.

(Me again) Using the fresh vegetable took more time, though boxes of Costco baby spinach make it easy; the result was definitely a refinement of the dish, as it did away with the many pieces of stem that you get in the frozen greens. As to quantities of all the ingredients, they are fairly flexible, and I did a lot of tasting at the end to make sure there was enough salt and spreadability.

The last time I took it to a community dinner, I also brought along a loaf of the Eritrean flatbread called himbasha, which dark-skinned parishioners in flowing white gauze bring to our church dinners every week to pass around in baskets. I always make sure to reach in and tear off a piece.

It was the first time I'd tried making it at my house. My loaf came out a little thick compared to what I think are the best versions I've eaten, because I didn't notice I was supposed to make 2 loaves with the dough, and I put the whole thing into one large skillet. But it was wonderfully chewy and flavorful all the same, and my tasters loved it still warm from the pan with some of the pkhali spread on.

Here is that recipe from a book I helped to compile, a small collection of international dishes that are cooked and served by members of each ethnic community (we are truly a pan-Orthodox group) for my church's yearly food festival.

Makes two 12" round breads

3 pounds flour

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cups water, at room temperature

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, yeast and sugar. Dissolve salt in water. Add oil and water/salt mixture to flour mixture, and mix until you have a stiff dough. Add raisins and mix until incorporated.

2. Cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Form into one or two large circles the diameter of your frying pans and up to 1" thick.

4. Lightly grease electric frying pan or cast iron skillet or paella pan. Heat over medium heat (about 300 degrees on an electric skillet) until a drop of water dances on it. Place dough carefully in pan, cover and cook about 15 minutes, until bottom is golden brown. Turn and cook another 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.

And at right, a photo of the last plate of pkhali I accomplished. Pomegranates were not to be found in the supermarkets in March, so I used the walnut option for garnishing.

You can see the little pieces of onion that I hadn't minced finely enough....I thought they would overwhelm the dish, but no, it was as addictive as ever. Still, I might put the onions in the food processor with the walnuts next time.

Will I have time to make this again during Lent? Probably not -- but we spinach lovers don't need to be fasting to enjoy something so yummy.