About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am finishing up my midwifery apprenticeship and plan to be a real midwife early in 2014!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Winter Retreat

Last night, I went to New Seasons and when I was buying my stuff, the cashier looked at what I was buying and said "it looks like *you're* going to have a nice evening!" I had: a bottle of red wine, an order of freshly-made pasta of the day, a slice of fudge truffle cake, and a bottle of bubble bath. :-) Okay, I didn't use the bubble bath last night--that was just because on the day after Christmas I was wanting a long, hot bubble bath but we had no bubble bath so I had to settle for a plain old long hot bath. Which wasn't bad.

I did have a nice evening, alone, last night. I usually enjoy having my family around but once in a while it's nice to have alone time. We had winter camp going on, and I was out there doing that too, but there are animals to be tended here so I took a break from camp and came back to my nice, empty house and enjoyed reading the newspaper for hours and good food all by myself.

Winter camp was great, though! It was for high school age kids, and it was just so nice and laid-back. Summer camp is fun but oh, so frenetic. Multiple activities going on at the same time, keep 'em entertained at all times so they don't get into mischief. This was just kids from our own parish, and just the older ones (except for Zac, and there were other 8th graders than just Hibi) and they all know each other, and they were happy just being together and playing games together and low-key crafts and other activities.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Gender Equity as a Cause of Environmental Woes?

Actually, I'm going to link another blog here....because it's just the post I've been wanting to write for a long time and haven't been able to spit it out. I would just quibble a bit on the use of the word feminism....because I think there is a way of being feminist that does have environmentally-friendly manifestations. I would consider the author's lifestyle to be a type of feminism.
http://blue-skies-urban-farm.blogspot.com/2007/12/environmental-impact-of-feminism.html

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Family Christmas Traditions

Our family hates Christmases that start too early. Department stores starting up Christmas in September? No thanks! We avoid department stores altogether in favor of a much simpler, and more authentic, Christmas.

We start off the Christmas season on December 6 (or thereabouts) with St. Nicholas Day, whenever we can. That's the day we try to get our tree. We have a tree-decorating party complete with cookies and egg nog, and after all that we turn out all the lights except the ones on the tree and sing Christmas carols. It's something we all look forward to, and we usually all feel like Christmas is here once we've had our party.

For gifts, we've stuck with the tradition we started when we first moved to Portland. You can read about it here. We only buy locally-made, handmade gifts, preferably from the person who made it so we can actually meet him/her. We love our tradition and are happily on the third year.

Last night we began to read A Christmas Carol, another tradition we started some years back. It only has five staves, or chapters, though they are a bit longish. You can read it in five readings very easily. The story reminds us of the poor and the real meaning of Christmas. I highly recommend it!

And finally, we keep our Christmas tree up until Epiphany, the Baptism of Christ. The "Christmas Season" is really supposed to be the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany, so we celebrate it until then.

This year we'll also be doing Christmas caroling, which we don't do every year but I like to do it when we can. Our choir is going out on Sunday to sing for shut-ins.

Here's wishing all who celebrate Christmas a peaceful, simple, celebration of the Nativity. Merry Christmas!

Aurora Concert and brotherly visit

I had a blast singing in the Aurora concert on Sunday! That was *just* what I've been looking for--challenging music, performing, working within a community of wonderful women. If you're a woman and live within the Portland metro area and you like to sing, consider Aurora! It's a pretty big time commitment but I think it's well worth it. I will definitely be back next term.

My brother and sister-in-law came for a visit. They've been telling us ever since we moved to Portland that they would, and they finally got around to it! I enjoyed having them in the audience listening and I enjoyed showing off our beautiful city to them on Monday. They saw Powells, of course, AND LaDonna sold a few copies of her latest book of poetry to them to sell. So if you're in Powells, take a look in the small press-poetry section for her book, Secrets of Falling, unless it's sold out already, which wouldn't surprise me.

We also enjoyed Voodoo Doughnuts and the Saturday Market (which, in addition to also being open on Sundays, is open for the whole week before Christmas). We toodled along Mississippi St. and enjoyed the little shops there. And then it was time for them to go home and for me to get a cold. Yep, I've been trying to get sick all fall and not quite making it, and now I have an honest-to-goodness cold, and I'm kind of relieved because now maybe I can quit with the almost-sick thing.

Oops!

I don't know how that happened, but the link for The Story of Stuff wasn't working. I've fixed it now. Go watch it! But make sure you've got 20 minutes to do so.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NoBloInDec?

Yes, I've been busy, too busy to even think of anything to blog about. I've been mostly keeping up with other people's blogs. It's not the Christmas season that's making me so busy--it's Aurora! I've been trying to make sure I have all my music memorized and have had extra rehearsals and a weekend retreat . Tonight is our dress rehearsal. On Tuesday we rehearsed with the instrumentalists for certain pieces. I think it's going to sound amazing--especially John Denver's Amazon. It's going to be cool!

If you still want to come but don't have tickets, the 4 o'clock performance is sold out. I'm pretty sure you can still get tickets to the 7 o'clock. And last I heard they still need a couple of volunteers, for which you get in free.

And I leave you with this, since I don't have anything of substance to blog about. It's a video that's 20 minutes long. When I first started watching it I thought "20 minutes--too long" and almost turned it off. But I kept watching and am very glad I did. It's a concise explanation of the process of "stuff." How it affects our environment and the people in the world we live in.
The Story of Stuff

Friday, November 30, 2007


Just a bit over two weeks until the Aurora Chorus concert! We've been working very hard on this and as of tomorrow all the music should be memorized. We have a retreat this weekend--a whole weekend of rehearsals.

I was a bit disappointed when I found out the concert attire, because I have a black dress that I thought would be just perfect, but it's short sleeved and we're required to wear at least 3/4 length sleeves. In trying to figure out what to wear with it I finally decided to drop by my favorite little sewing shop and see if it was doable to whip something up quickly. And indeed, Ruthie (the store owner) is invaluable in helping me figure out what I can do and how to do it. I came home with black fabric and a pattern for a great little swingy jacket. That was yesterday; today, after a day of working on it, plus cutting it out last night, I have a wonderful jacket to wear with my dress! I don't think I've ever made anything that turned out so well. This picture doesn't do it justice; I guess I'll have to take a picture of it while wearing something else lighter in color under so the detail will show up.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Burning Question

A conversation had a month ago that I'm still chuckling over...

My in-laws were visiting and we took them to Forest Park for a hike. Forest Park is the largest city park in the US, and except for the sounds of traffic, you could forget that you're within a city. It looks like a mountain hideaway.

We brought a lunch along and when we'd gone as far into the woods as we wanted to go, we found a nice little grassy knoll and sat down to eat. We had garlic cheese bread from Di Prima Dolce--to die for! Get yourself some--they make it on Fridays; apples we'd just picked from Hood River, and a soft cheese with an ash layer. Have you had cheese with an ash layer? It's really good. My mother-in-law was wondering aloud, who thought of putting ash in cheese? Who thought, hey, maybe ash would taste good in cheese! We wondered about that for awhile and had many jokes about eating ash. And then my dear mother-in-law reminded us that they want to be cremated when they die.

You can see where this conversation went from there!

Local Internet Provider?

When we first moved to Portland, we decided to go with Ecosky for our internet provider. It was a local ISP that used solar and wind power to run the business, which we thought was pretty cool. Plus we got cool @ecosky.com email addresses. :-) Then, after just a year, they went out of business. We decided, the heck with small local businesses--let's go back to Earthlink, a business that's huge and global and not going out of business anytime soon. But they have real customer service issues, and we haven't liked talking to someone in who-knows-where when we call, who doesn't know what we're talking about. We never received the modem they said they'd send, either.

I'm hoping to find a stable AND local ISP. One with a social conscience and provides good internet service. Can any of you local Portland area folks help me out with that?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Girls and Boys

What my children are doing right at this moment:

Hibi has her book, The Daring Book for Girls, and Zac has his book, The Dangerous Book for Boys, and they are comparing what's in what. "Does yours tell how to skip stones?" "Does yours show how to make a campfire?" "Does yours tell how to play Marco Polo?" "Does it have Robert's Rules of Parliamentary Procedure?"

Ah, the gender wars continue. :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Goodreads

'bout time I posted, hey? We've been in Tucson for Thanksgiving. Zac was there for over three weeks, as he went home with his grandparents when they came to visit, early in November. He enjoyed it--he did very different things from what he usually does. Went to two basketball games with his granddad. Went to a park that has bumper boats and arcade games with his great uncle. Played Pollyanna with his great grandmother. He had a great time but he's glad to be back in Portland! We made it home in two days, in part due to his pushing to get back. Over half of that drive time I was the only driver, as we dropped Paul off at LAX so he could get back in time for church on Sunday.

Anyway, now we're back in Portland and very content to be back. I realized as we were leaving Portland this time that I so miss Portland when we leave it! I used to just love travel, and I still do like it, but I think that our fair city is just about perfect for us. Rain and all. And even though yesterday I just about froze my you-know-what off while cleaning out the car. (Originally I was thinking to wash it too, but it was in the 30s--no way was I going to turn on water out there!) This, just after having soaked in all that Tucson sun and warmth.

I put up a Goodreads button on my blog a while ago and I just wanted to draw attention to it, because it's a fun way of sharing books. I think it could work nicely for people who don't have blogs, because you don't *have* to write anything if you don't want to. So, go check out out my Goodreads and start one for yourself. Leave me the link to yours, so I can find you there!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Filled Up

From the same three-year-old little guy who wrote on his piece of paper as a question to the Archbishop the word "Will", leaving the Archbishop wondering if he was asking about God's will, free will, what? No, it was just his name!

Paul asked little Will, "Are you going to take communion?" (I'd assume, but am not sure, that this was in the context of coming up in line for communion.)
Will, holding up a hand: "No, I'm good."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hibi the rock star!

And here's what you missed if you didn't come to the fundraiser! My amazing daughter. :-) Both videos are clips of the same song--I can't figure out why I didn't just record the whole thing.
video video

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pies!


Homemade pies. (Yes, of course we sampled the chocolate cream pie--we had to make sure they were okay!) Music, fun times. Need I say more? Oh, yeah--Hibi playing electric guitar. That girl *rocks!*

See ya there!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dorothy Day House Fundraiser--it's almost here!

One last shout-out for the Dorothy Day House fundraiser, which is this Friday evening! It's going to be a lot of fun, with lots of music, a silent auction, and of course, pie. 7 pm to around 9:30.

If anyone local would like to help make pies, I'd love to have you over on Thursday to help. Email me and let me know, and I'll send you the specifics. Or if anyone would like to bake a pie (or more) at home for the fundraiser, that'd be great too!

By the way, as always you can find my email address in my profile--just click on "View My Complete Profile" on the top and then click on "email." Ooops, I just looked at it and somehow it was gone. Not sure how that happened! Anyway, it's back now. It's better to put it there because then the 'bots can't automatically harvest it....because I really don't need to know more about pharmaceuticals or how to enlarge any part of my body. Ahem. (Wow, from Catholic Worker fundraiser to spam in three paragraphs! And I wasn't even trying!)

Did you vote?

Paul says he needs a sticker now, that says "My Wife Made Me Vote." :-) Sheesh, you wouldn't think it'd be so difficult to get that man to vote!

Even though I have misgivings about making a portion of the population foot the bill for children's health care, I went ahead and voted "yes" for the cigarette tax and Oregon Measure 50. I hate to again tax smokers, and yet just looking at how hard the cigarette industry is fighting this one makes me wish I had a million votes to vote for it. And I voted yes and yes on the other two obvious (in my opinion) ones. Did you vote yet? Election day is tomorrow!

And one thing I don't like about all-mail voting in Oregon is that we don't get a sticker that says "I Voted."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jorge!


Zac took pictures at tonight's CUSINA. This is my favorite of the bunch: Jorge. He's such a sweetie. Here he is, showing off his beautiful parfait!

Apple Saturday

Here's what we did on Saturday:













Apple picking in beautiful Hood River!

Hibi was our photodocumentarian. She's becoming quite the photographer, isn't she? That's her shadow, while she was swinging.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Another beautiful fall day! So I hopped on my bike and rode away from home.

When I got to the park, I rode around the rose garden three times, just taking in all the beauty.




I'm sure enjoying these beautiful fall days! It's supposed to get down to 36 degrees tonight. I wonder if I should go ahead and bring in all my green tomatoes...

Six Years Ago Today

Paul was ordained to the priesthood! On October 26, 2001 Paul left the ranks of the diaconate, where he'd been for almost three years, and became a priest. We were told just before he was ordained that he would be assigned to be the director of St. Nicholas Ranch, where we would move one month later. And at his ordination, at the lunch afterwards, our bishop, Metropolitan Anthony (of blessed memory) told everyone in attendance that for his gift to Fr. Paul, he would take our whole family to Crete with him. Huh? What did he say? He couldn't possibly have said that....but he did. We moved on December 1, and on December 3 we were in the sky, off to Crete with Metropolitan Anthony and Bishop Anthimos. Quite the beginning of priesthood! We met some wonderful people in Crete. We were just thinking about Papa Giorgio yesterday, what a different kind of ministry he has there in the village oustide of Iraklion. He is the village priest, and he has no office. "Office hours" were a foreign concept to him. Rather, he wanders the village and is visible and available to people who need him. He is paid by the government, and not well enough to live on, so his family grows olives for olive oil as well.

Paul's six years in the priesthood has been a ride! St. Nicholas Ranch, then back to San Francisco in order to help Metropolitan Anthony get ready for retirement. Then seeing him die of cancer instead, very quickly. Receiving our new bishop, Metropolitan Gerasimos, helping him get settled in San Francisco, and then our move here to Portland, Paul's first parish assignment. It's been a wonderful but very different life!

Happy Ordination Anniversary to you, dear Paul!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Beautiful Fall Day

This morning dawned beautiful and sunny, like yesterday. Before yesterday, I'd been just longing for days like today and yesterday. Our rainy season had started (yes, we do have a rainy season here in Portland and it's not 12 months long) and all we were getting were cold rainy fall days. I wanted a nice, crisp sunny day and I was so glad that it looks like that's what we'll be getting a lot of in the next week or so!

I started out the day with going to church. It was an interesting experience, because it was the Feastday of St. James, the brother of Christ. And the interesting part comes because there is a liturgy of St. James, which is quite different than the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which is what we regularly use for most liturgies during the year. It is much more primitive, as Paul says it hasn't been polished by constant use; it is still rough and ancient and reflects the early church to a much greater extent than what we have today.

One thing that marks the liturgy of St. James is that communion is distributed by hand. The current practice in the Orthodox church is to put the body of Christ, which in our church is leavened bread unlike the Catholic church, into the chalice along with the wine. Then a spoon is used to give each communicant a portion of both at the same time. In the liturgy of St. James, each communicant is given in their hand a small cube of the bread, and then the chalice is offered to sip from. I quite liked it. Paul says that he was told by a bishop that you can also celebrate this liturgy on the Sunday after Christmas. It seems a good time to bring it out to the general public; the reason for the spoon was to prevent spillage, and big crowds just invite disaster. But there wouldn't be too many people in church on the Sunday after Christmas.

After I got home, I took a bike ride to Peninsula Park. I haven't noticed this until this time of year--as I'm riding into the entrance at the corner of Rosa Parks Blvd and Albina, there is the most wonderful scent. I'm assuming it's the trees. I don't know trees very well, I think they're some sort of pine? Maybe incense cedar? But they just smell divine. I want to bottle that smell and wear it. Then I rode my bike around the rose garden, finally coming to a rest on a park bench just beside it. There was just the faintest hint of rose smell from where I was sitting, and the color in the garden wasn't as vibrant as it was in the summer. The roses are giving their last show before they go dormant and look quite dead for the winter. The sky was the most wonderful blue and the path was paved in fallen leaves.

I did this same bike ride yesterday. I'm thinking to do it every day while we're having such glorious weather! Tomorrow I hope to remember the camera.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cathedral

This afternoon I took an over two-hour nap. Well-deserved, I might add! The kids and I started out the day at 8:30, for choir practice, at the church. (Zac doesn't sing in the choir, but he has to come with Hibi and me when it's time for choir to practice...and it didn't hurt that he was doing his altar-boying early, either.) We crammed, as in the last-minute study for a test that goes on in college, trying to brush up on the music that we didn't have nearly long enough to prepare for. Then, at a few minutes before 10 am, we went outside to await the cathedral-making.

Today our church became a cathedral. What does that mean? Well, traditionally, a cathedral is a parish that is the seat of the local bishop. We have no bishop in Portland, so it's more of an honorary title. And yet, it does denote that Holy Trinity has not only been around for 100 years, and is not only the oldest Greek Orthodox parish in the Pacific Northwest, but it has accomplished much in it's time, enough to be worthy of cathedral status. I think it's also a call to do more that's worthy of cathedral status. Our program that we started up last week, Cusina, is indicative of this.

The Orthros service, the church service before the church service, was conducted outside today, in a covered tent. Then, at the conclusion of Orthros (also called Matins, perhaps a more familiar term to western Christians) a procession was made from the tent to the front doors of the church. We had a traditional "door-opening", usually done at the consecration of a new church building.

We went on to have a beautiful service, complete with all the hierarchical elements. The choir did a bang-up job, even though we had only about two months to prepare for this, whereas when we did the centennial, we started special rehearsals 5 months before.

I had to check what time it was as I walked out of the church and into the hall for brunch, because Magpie Ima contends that she can "show me" long services! Her family is Jewish and also knows long services. But I am well acquainted with long, and we made pretty good time today for all that. It was 1:07 when I checked the time.

We then went on to have a delicious brunch, and then the unveiling of the new but temporary sign, wherein Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church has the "Church" part covered with a "Cathedral" sign. :-)

And then I drove my children home and crawled immediately into bed, at 3 in the afternoon, and after being on my feet from 8:30 to about 1:30. Ah, what a lovely nap!

Monday, October 15, 2007

CUSINA!

When we lived at St. Nicholas Ranch, we started up a food distribution program for the poverty-stricken folks who lived out in the rural area where the ranch is. Once a month, we'd bring food from the Fresno Food Bank and wherever else we could get it--I asked for produce from some organic farmers I knew, and Paul would get bread from a baker in the area. We'd package it up and people would come and get it and take it home. For some, it got them through to the end of the month after they'd run out of paycheck. After awhile, though, we felt that just giving them the food and having them just take it and go wasn't quite satisfying, so when Poverello House in Fresno offered to make a dinner for us to serve alongside, we accepted gratefully. That gave us a chance to sit down with these folks and get to know them. We made some lasting and very interesting friendships. Like Tammy, who was the only person from the program to ever come to our church. She came once, and that very week she died. Annaliese, who had four beautiful daughters, and whom I suspected had an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. Shonda had two children who lived with her, and four others who had been taken away by social services, and a boyfriend in jail. I took her into Fresno once so she could see him.

It was an eye-opening experience for us. One we just couldn't have and then turn from. It stayed with us.

One interesting thing, though, was that the school got involved in trying to help with a food drive. They brought cans of food collected by the students. More than a third of the cans of food were marked USDA. They'd come directly from our food distribution!

So, when we got here to Portland, and were talking with Kim, a public health nurse who is a member of our church, and we asked her about the needs of the community at large, she said a cooking class would be a good idea, because people get free food that they don't know how to cook. That rang true for us, and that's how the concept of CUSINA was born.

We have been working with an organization called JOIN for several months now, creating the concept and finding people who were interested in such a class. It turns out there are lots of people who are interested in learning how to cook Greek food! JOIN is a resource center for homeless people and we wanted to work with people who are transitioning from homelessness. JOIN helped us out with that, providing 12 recently-housed people with a desire to cook. We will have 6 classes, every Monday evening for six weeks.

After these months of preparation, CUSINA has come to fruition! Tonight was the first class, and I say it was a raging success! Here's the way it's come together:

The core group for CUSINA created menus that would use foods that would be easily available to people who are in public housing and getting food from food pantries. The recipes were then given to chefs from Greek restaurants, who graciously accepted the task of teaching the classes. They each chose to donate the food items and bring any of the equipment that we needed. The core group volunteers worked together with other volunteers to have "cooking buddies" for each class participant. We have volunteers to set up beforehand, and volunteers to clean up after, and volunteers to provide transportation to each person who would otherwise have a hard time getting to and from the church.

Everything went just as planned tonight! The chef for tonight was from Greek Cusina. (Yes, the one with the octopus on the outside of the building!) Ted, the owner, came with his son Theo and his nephew Billy, who is the head chef there. Billy did the actual teaching, as he was trained in Greece and in the US in culinary schools. And you'd have thought he was trained in teaching, too! He did a fabulous job. Our menu theme tonight was meze (appetizers) and we learned how to make tzatziki, hummus, and gigantes (giant white beans in a tomato sauce). It all tasted so good! I think the participants were amazed at being able to make such tasty food with such simple ingredients.

At the beginning of the class, a few appetizers were put out so everyone had a bit to eat to tide them over, and to provide a welcoming atmosphere. Then, while the gigantes were cooking, we all sat down and ate a dinner together that consisted of pre-made foods that we'd cooked that night. It was delicious and a fun way to end the evening. Everyone got gigantes, tzatziki and hummus to take home.

Greeks are legendary for their hospitality and their food. This program combines both! I'm already looking forward to next Monday evening!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And if you missed it....

like I did....I didn't mention here that I was out of town for festival weekend, did I? A National Presvyteres Retreat (presvyteres are priests' wives) intervened. Next year I'll be there, but until then, I have this video!



Pretty impressive, eh? If certainly decidedly *not* vegetarian! And it was a featured video on the Travelistic site. Cool!

Okay, so I am kind of squeamish about posting this with the front picture of the dead animal on the spit. Eww! I apologize to my fellow vegetarian readers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Greek Festival!

I would be remiss if I didn't urge all of you in the area, within a 5 hour drive, to come to the Greek festival! It's this weekend. Don't let all this rain currently deter you. Holy Trinity has put in it's order for *nice weather.* :-) And it's looks like perhaps it won't be too bad this weekend!

All the info you need is found right here.

Piece of Pie for Peace!

This post is to announce a musical evening with homemade pie and a silent auction! It will be a fundraiser for the Portland Dorothy Day House. Dorothy Day House is a Catholic Worker house that provides hospitality for women who are in transition from homelessness or prison. The women can stay for a long enough period of time to get a job, treatment if necessary (for drug addictions or other problems), figure out transportation, and find themselves a place to live. It's a safe place to work from, rather than trying to go straight from the streets or prison to being on their own. Our family has greatly enjoyed getting to know this great group of people and we've benefited from being part of the community.

The fundraiser evening will be November 9, from 7 pm to 9:30, at the Peace House at NE 18th and Tillamook in Portland. Tickets are $10 and donations over that price are definitely appreciated, in order to keep this great work going. If you'd like tickets in advance, let me know and I can set you up. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

I'm in charge of making sure we have plenty of homemade pie.....

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Too Busy to Blog!

Wow, I didn't think we could get busier than we were in the summer. At least we're not traveling as much! Now that church is back in full swing with Sunday School and youth activities and Holy Trinity will be made a cathedral on October 21 and there's choir to prepare for that, and our homeschool co-op is back in session and we've already been to pick apples and see the swifts settling for the night in the Chapman school. But the biggest single thing that's making me much busier than before is this. Yes, remember, faithful readers, when a year and a half ago I came back from an MLK celebration gushing about Aurora Chorus? I got on their waiting list then, but when the invited me to sing with them the following September I declined, because I was having major issues with my singing voice. I went to the doctor and found that it was because of acid reflux. I had to work pretty hard to find a doctor that told me that studies have shown that taking apple cider vinegar every day is just as effective for acid reflux as popping a pill. So, that's what I've done and my acid reflux is under control, when I take the apple cider vinegar every day.

So, I joined Aurora this September! Aurora Chorus is a group of women, 113 of us this term, who sing for peace. It has been more challenging than I'd thought it would be; it's just more difficult music than I'd thought, and more rewarding too. It's a great group of women, a community, really. But there's a lot to do when you're an Aurora member! Music to practice and learn and, eventually, be able to sing from memory, weekly practices, potluck, retreat, sectionals, and extra stuff for the new members like me, to make sure we all know how to read music or at least how to count beats, and to learn diction to make sure people can understand us in concerts. My experience with Aurora so far has been wonderful, rewarding, challenging, hard, life-affirming, overwhelming, and I think that I have a chance to be a part of a close-knit network of women, which is A Good Thing.

So, all this by way of saying: save the date! If you'd like to hear Aurora yourself, come to our concert on December 16! More info to be announced.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Iraq Body Count

The kids asked me recently how many Iraqi civilians have been killed in the Iraq war. We used to visit Iraq Body Count website all the time, when the war was...well, more active? Hum, like it isn't now. Anyway, I just went there and looked, and they say that between 73,264 and 79,869 Iraqi civilians have been killed in war since we started this in March of 2003.

Once I referred someone to this site, who supports the war and didn't believe so many civilians were being killed. After looking at it (must have been quite briefly) she said to me, "well, I don't know where they get those numbers and I can't be sure if it's accurate." I'm thinking, don't know, or don't want to know? If you click on the numbers it takes you to a page where it lists each death, incident by incident, name by name when known. It tells you which news source(s) they got the information from. The range the website gives is because it's sometimes hard to tell if two news stories are talking about the same incident, or two different ones. From the beginning I've been very impressed with the amount of attention to detail and precision this website painstakingly makes. It doesn't give a lot of polemics, though you certainly could draw lots of conclusions from these numbers. They let the numbers speak for themselves. We are killing thousands and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people. Shame on us.

Pro-life president? I don't think so.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cutting through to the race issue

I regularly read the blog of a young Muslim woman who lives in Canada. Mostly I find the perspective of someone in a very different religion from mine to be very interesting. But today Asmaa posted a very challenging post. Challenging because it takes an issue beyond the apparent, superficial reasoning and on to the deeper issue of race. Read it here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reunion

Last January, I turned 38 years old. I graduated from high school when I was 18. That means that the ubiquitous 20 year reunion year is here. I'd been kind of watching, keeping an ear out to find out if anyone was planning anything.

I just got word that yes, there is something planned, kind of last minute. It's in a month. Down where I grew up, in Reedley, California. And suddenly I'm not so sure I'm interested in going. Kind of going back and forth. Really want to go. Really don't want to go.

I never really felt that I fit in in high school. My first several weeks of high school, as I remember it, were spent walking around and around during lunch and breaks. Because I had no friends and didn't want anyone to guess that I had no friends. If I were still, people would see that I was alone. If I kept moving, I had an air of purpose, or so I thought.

I did find friends eventually, and we became quite tight. We were the nerds of our school, the ones who didn't care about fashion and who studied for class. But not the super-intelligent ones, except for one of us. Maybe two. We attended banquets (Mennonite version of a dance, with no dancing) together instead of with dates, we had slumber parties, we had burping contests (I always won), and a couple of times we dressed up really super dorky and smeared makeup all over our faces and went to McDonalds, acting like total goofs. That was fun!

But we weren't athletic. And, as in most high schools, athletic was it. Was what was celebrated. Huge crowds came for the football games. Where were those huge crowds when my friends and I were giving a choir performance? Oh, there's a choir performance? Who cares?

Mostly I felt ignored in high school. Even though I had my antics. Golly, I was thinking about my fanaticism recently. High school is when I had a spiritual awaking, of sorts. And I got dogmatic. I remember going around trying to convince everyone, for a short period of time, that Christians should not go to movies. One, they were a waste of time when we could be reading the Bible and witnessing to people, and two, they contained all kinds of faith-corrupting messages. Yeah. That phase was over pretty quick and I was back to watching movies. Because one of the very few things to do in our town, if we could get our parents to drive us or after we turned 16, was to drive into Fresno or Visalia and watch a movie. That and mall shopping. (I'm so glad my kids have much more creative things to do with their time!)

And here I am, homeschooling my kids. Though we've thought about Hibi going to high school, but it's completely her choice and she's beginning to steer away from that choice. But now I'm wondering about how much of the awful ways that high schoolers treat each other is socialized into us. We're sent off at such a tender age to school, to fend for ourselves, and how else do we have to defend ourselves? I've heard it said so many times, and I absolutely feel it's true, that you can tell homeschoolers apart from school kids. They just act differently. That's not to say that they're perfect, or they're good and the school kids are bad. Not to denigrate anyone's choice. It's just an observation. I think they are better able to make organic choices and relationships.

And here am I, still trying to relate to my old school mates in an organic fashion. Doesn't help that I don't see them, like, ever. Maybe if I did go I could just begin to form those relationships and ignore the facade we put on for others in school.

I'm just such a different person now. I'm concerned that I still wouldn't fit in, in a whole different way.

If there's anyone from my class that visits here, because I *did* put my blog address on my classmates profile after all, it's not you. It's....well, it's all of us. It's just how we humans do things, I suppose.

A Kinder, Gentler Jehovah's Witness?

While I was waiting for my jeans to dry this morning so I could finish getting dressed, Zac calls down "Mom! Someone's at the door." Dontcha hate that? So I grabbed my pink knit pants that I only wear around the house and went up. (My bedroom and the washer and dryer are in the basement.) Ah! The lovely pair of Jehovah's Witness ladies I'd seen around our neighborhood before we even left for Patrick's Point! How did I know they were JWs? Well....they just looked like it. And I was right...

Anyway, they didn't leave me with any Watchtowers or anything. First off, they said that they'd spoken with Eric, our housesitter, last week and that he'd actually given them the address he'd be after this, but when they went to find him they said there that they thought he was still housesitting. Silly Eric! Giving out more info than is required! Anyway, they started talking to me about natural disasters, and why do I think they happen? Does God cause them? Had I heard that some people were saying it was God's judgment on the earth, or on the sinful people in New Orleans? We were all in agreement that we didn't think that was right. We had a nice little discussion about what God would or wouldn't do, and then they left, saying they'd come back sometime and we'd discuss this further. Huh? No hard sell? No "we're right, you're wrong"? And "you can *become* right"? There was some phrasing of me being "right" that I didn't think God would cause the hurricane to punish people. Where I was very careful to say that I cannot presume to know what God does or does not do, but it is my impression that God does not work that way.

At the end I said that my husband is a Greek Orthodox priest....more to try to ward them off than anything. And one of them said she had a funny story about Greek Orthodox priests when she was in Greece, that she'd share next time! and maybe even catch him to tell it to him too!

These aren't your parents' Jehovah's Witnesses, huh?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Back from Patrick's Point

We got back on Saturday from another wonderful Patrick's Point campout! I so enjoy being with these wonderful people for a week. Though, since we no longer have an assistant priest at our church, we couldn't miss Saturday night and Sunday morning, so it wasn't a full week. We got there a day late and left a day early. Still, a wonderful relaxing time was had by all.

We decided to do tie-dyeing again. Great fun, but lots of work. The most frustrating part for me is when all the kids are doing tie-dye, but lots of them don't know how, and I hear "Elizabeth! Elizabeth!" every 5 seconds. I want to spend good time with each of them, helping each of them to make the creation they want to create, but I just can't be in 15 places focusing on 15 different needs at once. Ya know? Anyway, I did enjoy it, and some beautiful things came out of it, but by the time I had some time to tie-dye myself, I was tired and didn't have any creativity left. So I'm thinking maybe we ought to do some more tie-dye here at home soon. Anyone want to join us? Just don't call "Elizabeth! Elizabeth!" every 5 seconds and we should be good to go. :-)

Last year I tried out baking bread in the dutch oven in the fire pit, which was great. This year's feat: doughnuts! I think my craving started out when Magpie chronicled her doughnut-making. And my thinking for making them while camping was: when do I have time to make doughnuts at home? Well, last night, apparently. See, I'm always saying that things like doughnuts and New Years Cookies are good to have a crowd around to eat them up, since it makes such a big batch and they're not really good the next day. But, at Patrick's Point, there was *too big* of a crowd. I ended up cutting each doughnut in half, and still not everyone got one who wanted one. One kid followed me around begging for another half. "*He* got a whole one!" Yeah, that's my son--sorry, he gets special treatment. So, my craving was still not satisfied, because I didn't get to gorge myself on doughnuts. I made another batch last night and now, my craving is sated. :-) I think I'll post my recipe on my cooking blog later, as well as how I did it while camping. Hint: it was pretty darn easy, actually!

We had our yearly talent show--actually, they decided to have two, one on Wednesday night and one on Saturday night, to accommodate the arrivals and departures of more than one hundred people. Hibi did a fantastic job on singing and accompanying herself on guitar a Green Day song, which Paul and I have never even listened to, and didn't even know she did. Ah, teenagers--I suppose it's a requirement that they listen to different music than their parents. Anyway, it was beautiful, and I'm looking forward to hearing more! I wanted to learn Brandi Carlisle's "Have You Ever" and I asked Paul to learn it on guitar. Being the contrarian that he is, he learned it on Zac's banjo instead. And since he's new at it, he didn't do as great as guitar would have been, but still he did okay. We performed it at the talent show as well. Zac didn't do anything for the talent show--I suggested he do some tae kwon do moves that he's been learning (he and Paul just promoted to yellow belt) but he didn't think that appropriate. Oh, well.

So, we left on Saturday early, about 9 am. Paul had already scheduled these Vespers services that I blogged about in the last post, and since there was no one to cover for him, he was it. Plus he was wanting me to help out with the chanting to help facilitate English and congregational singing. We thought we'd have enough time to drive home, shower and change, and get to the church for the 5:30 service. But there was a huge wreck on I-5 (of course) and it delayed us for more than an hour! When we got up to the site of the accident, it looked to us like it had involved a cow wandering onto the freeway. Ugh. Anyway, we were late, so we didn't go home, but straight to church. We pulled up at 5:20 and rushed in. We were both filthy--I hadn't had a shower since Wednesday and we both were wearing dirty clothes from camping. But you know what? Robes cover a multitude of dirt. :-) I don't usually wear one for chanting, feeling it inhibits other people from participating and creates too big a distinction, but I sure did on Saturday night! Not the least reason that I sure wasn't wearing church clothes. We got through it, even though Paul's hair really starts looking very greasy after not being washed for more than a day. And I'm sure we both smelled pretty bad.

And that's it! Patrick's Point over and done with for another year. Sigh.

We've thought about trying to start up a campout here in Oregon like Patrick's Point. I think we'd get people that are interested. It's so much fun! But I'm not sure we could ever not go to Patrick's Point. It holds a special place in our hearts.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Vespers at Holy Trinity

I want to put this out there for all local Portland area people! Paul is trying something new out for Saturday evening Vespers. Vespers is an evening service, to usher in the new day--liturgically, the new day starts at sunset, thus "evening and morning, were the first day" according to the Genesis account of Creation.

We are going to be having an all-English Vespers at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. It will be a shortened version of the Vespers service, starting at 5:30 and ending at 6:00 pm. It is designed to be sung by the congregation. Then there will be a 30 minute discussion about selected social issues. The first topic, which will be tomorrow, September 8, will be Morality in Entertainment. We will have a guest speaker on November 10, Dn. Euthym Kontaxis, who is also a medical doctor. A few of the other topics in the future will be: alternative lifestyles; Islam and Christianity; Christianity in business; humanism, iconography and sacred art; and organ donation.

The services will continue every Saturday evening, starting at 5:30.

The Vespers services and talks will occur at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, which is located at 3131 NE Glisan St. I hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A New Day

Hey, thanks for your kind words. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm doing better today--the pain is greatly reduced, as to be just noticable when I think about it. Um, you know what I mean, I trust? And I'm over the funk. I should say here that when I described myself as "depressed" yesterday, I meant only little-d depression. Because I've been through Big D Depression and this wasn't anything like it. So, yes, friends are still going through a lot. But I'm trying not to take so much on my own shoulders. I can feel sympathy without being totally non-functional, no?

Happy Labor Day, everyone! And a big thank you to all those who brought us the weekend. Thanks, Labor Movement!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

On the Upside

I was awake in the night, both from the pain in my head and neck and from worry about our friend who just had something awful happen to him, and I remembered that the earth was set to go through meteor showers during the night. So I got up, and found that Hibi was also awake. This was at 3:30 am! We went out together to look for meteors at 4. I only saw one bright one, and she saw none. So we decided to go back in and come back out at 4:30, which was supposed to be the peak. We both saw one bright-ish one, and we both saw just faint lines in the sky that I'm thinking had to be meteors. It would have been much better if we'd been out someplace dark, like Camp Angelos or something, but we did see some and got some bonding time in. Though probably my tiredness is contributing to my mood today, but that couldn't be helped.

This was the second time in a week that we've observed an astronomic event--we also watched the lunar eclipse, which was pretty cool. Zac was up for that one, too, and he was disappointed that he missed the meteors.

Down

I haven't been posting much lately. I had something I wanted to post about,concerning the latest revelation of Mother Theresa and the nature of faith, but it's just not there. Lots of really bizarre and very bad stuff has been going on with different people who are dear to our hearts, and it all leaves me kind of depressed. Plus, I visited the doctor yesterday for a head/neckache that's lasted for 2 1/2 weeks, but she didn't know of any specific reason for it. She gave me some vague things to do for it--ibuprofin, which of course I'd tried and it didn't work, neck rubs, which hurt, heat, which I hadn't done besides hot showers. She also thought perhaps I should stay off the computer for the weekend....but here I am. I will have a hiatus from the computer next week, as we are going on our yearly homeschool campout at Patrick's Point in California. Anyway, I am now the new owner of a heating pad. Which really isn't helping.

And pain, of course, always adds to depression. So I hope it'll go away soon.

Now you can go on to your regularly scheduled upbeat blog reading. And I might just be back with that post about faith yet.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Writing Practice

Zachary just got his email set up on his computer that he got from Free Geek. He only just got the internet working on it, thanks to help from Dad. (Because God knows, I'm no good at that kind of stuff!) So we've been emailing back and forth, rather than shouting and waiting for kids to respond, which I think is a great thing! Here's the first email I sent him, and the response from him:

From: mamaelizabeth@earthlink.net
Subject: glad you're using email now!
Date: August 25, 2007 2:30:26 PM PDT
To: zacxxxx@earthlink.net

Because now I can communicate with you. Hey! Clean your room! Go to bed! You have to come to a dinner with us!

Just kidding. :-)

I love you,
Mom

From: zacxxxx@earthlink.net
Subject: NOT gladi'm using email now!
Date: August 25, 2007 2:33:53 PM PDT
To: mamaelizabeth@earthlink.net

becaus now you can bother me all day!

love zac

Monday, August 20, 2007

Elizabeth's Further Experimentation with Prosphora


Well, perhaps this should be in my cooking blog, but that's the breaks. Life doesn't compartmentalize neatly always.

I've been wanting to try out making whole wheat communion bread for years. But I haven't made prosphora at home in....I don't know how many years. A lot. Today I was making raisin bread--the first bread I've baked at home all summer! How did that happen? Anyway, I thought hey, I should whip up a prosphora as well! So I did.

The problems with it are all different from the problems I thought I'd have. I thought there would be problems with the crumb, with the texture, with the taste. It turns out the problems are 100% with the seal--it doesn't show up very well at all.

Here's how I tried it:
I used the same recipe as for white flour, just subbing whole wheat flour. I kneaded it probably a bit more than I would have for white flour, until it as nice and stretchy. And then here's where I deviated from the original: instead of putting it directly into the pan, I let it rise once in the bowl. After it rose and I poked it with a wet finger and it didn't rise back up right away, I shaped it--two balls, flatten one and put it in the pan. Flatten the other and seal it with the seal, then wet the first disk and put the sealed on on top. (This is a new technique I learned from another lady who was teaching prosphora at camp--I have before sealed both pieces together, or just as one piece.) Then I let it rise and baked it as usual.

The taste is pretty good! I can imagine that people who don't like whole wheat bread will certainly not like this. But I think it's pretty darn good--very flavorful for communion bread!

So, anyway, here's my recipe for communion bread (not perfected for the seal...)
3 to 4 cups whole wheat flour plus more for kneading (home-ground is the *best*)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Place three cups flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the yeast to the warm water, stirring as you pour slowly to wet each grain. Make a well in the flour and pour the water into it. Mix just the center at first, combining well, then stir in the rest of the flour. If the dough is too sticky to knead, add more flour until you can knead it.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is stretchy and you can pull a piece into a paper-thin sheet without it tearing (or almost). Put back into the bowl and cover with a plate. (No oil in communion bread, please!)

After about an hour and a half, poke a wet finger into the center, up to the first knuckle, then pull it out. If the dough slowly rises back, it's not ready yet. If it just sits there it's ready. (If the dough sighs and deflates, you've let it rise too long!) Divide it in two, then form each into a disk. Put flour on the bottom of your pan--a cake pan works well, but so does a plain old cookie sheet. Again, no oil! Place one disk on the flour, then press the seal into the other disk--hard. Now, here's where I had trouble--the first time, the dough stuck like crazy and I had to wash it and re-do the disk. So then the seal was wet and I floured the top of the disk, and it came out okay then....though the seal still didn't show up very well. Cover and let rise until double, then bake in a 350 degree oven until done, maybe an hour? Thump the bottom with your thumb and if it sounds hollow, it's done. Hopefully your seal will turn out better than mine!

Prosphora has specific needs--it only contains these four ingreadients: flour, water, yeast, salt. No oil, no sweetener. So it can be a bit finicky. But I think we can figure this one out!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Book List

I don't know if any of my readers have noticed, so I thought I'd point it out, in case you're interested. I've added a list of books I'm either currently reading and enjoying or have read. Well, right now it's all books I've read already. I'm finding it a handy reference for myself--what books have I read this summer? I was asking myself yesterday. Our library is having, in addition to the children's summer reading program, an adult summer reading program! No cheapo little prizes, though--you get entered into a drawing for a getaway at a resort. Cool, huh? So I was trying to recall which 4 to 6 books (the requirement) I've read during the summer. I think the ones on my list that aren't dated I read before the summer started, so I didn't put those down. Then I added the ones I remembered to this list and put down dates I completed the book so I'll be able to remember. Eh, okay, it's mostly for me, but if you want books I'd recommend you can look at the list, or we can see if we read the same book.

Anyway, you can find my list at the bottom of the right hand column on my main blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

But speaking of the environment...

Paul found this video which really boils down the issues on global warming. Watch and see if you reach some clarity.

NOT made in Sweden

I waited more than two weeks after the opening of IKEA in Portland to join the throngs of consumers, the ones wanting more furniture for less. Now, Paul has a real aversion to IKEA, because he hates crowds and he hates how IKEA herds you from one department to the next, forcing you to walk through the entire store. I felt herded as soon as I was approaching the area in my car. But we've managed to pick up several IKEA products over the years. I love our coffee table from IKEA--it was exactly what I was looking for at the time (and still use it)--a coffee table with six cubbies below the top surface, so each of us have a cubby to store things in the living room, plus two left over, which we use for library books. It's a good solid piece of furniture and I think it'll be with us for quite some time.

On Monday I went into IKEA with a specific item that I was looking for, which I've been searching for for quite a while. I want a big cabinet to serve as a pantry in the little alcove just outside my kitchen. There's a little space there, that right now has an old small cupboard. But there's enough room there for a 30 inch wide, 22 inch deep, and up to about 80 inches tall cabinet. I could really use a nice big space for kitchen storage. But they're kind of odd dimensions and I haven't found anything that was just what I wanted.

I didn't find it at IKEA either, though some things came close and I might have made do with one of those solutions. But then I looked at the tag, where it says something like "country of origen: IKEA chooses it's suppliers on the basis of who can supply us with our specialized furniture for the most economic price. Therefore each piece of furniture may contain components from many different countries of origin." In other words, don't bug us about exploitation--you can buy it for cheap! And didn't we already tell you it's environmentally correct enough that you can feel good about it? There was more info on how they supposedly didn't destroy the environment to make this item--really, you can go ahead and keep buying lots of stuff. It won't hurt anything!

I had an interesting conversation with a woman while visiting my parents in June. This woman was talking about how great it is that there are dollar stores and the like now, and Target and Walmart and lots of places to buy good clothes for cheap. How she buys lots of extra clothes for her grandkids so it's on hand when they're at her house, so if they get dirty they can just change into clean clothes. How it wasn't like that when her own children were small--you had to buy clothes at department store prices and you couldn't afford to have extras. I just couldn't resist--I often just stand there listening to these kinds of conversations, not saying what I'm thinking, but I spoke my mind this time. "But, did you ever think of where those clothes came from? Who made them? How much they could possibly be getting paid, when you are paying only a couple of dollars for an item of clothing?" And went on to talking about how people are exploited, because most of our clothing nowadays comes from China, where human rights are abominable (the food scares we've been having lately from food from China? Did you know they *executed* the person in charge of food safety?) and workers get paid next to nothing, certainly not enough to live a decent life. And I told her that a much better option, in my mind, is to buy from thrift stores and consignment stores, where you're just re-using someone else's exploitative clothing, instead of having new exploitative clothing made for you, and it's often even less expensive than Target or Walmart to buy thrift store clothing. But this woman didn't like the idea of her grandsons wearing something that's already been worn by someone else. Okay, I shut my mouth, but I didn't stop thinking, so she'd rather her grandson didn't wear something worn already, and have them wear something that someone else's blood, sweat and tears paid for.

What bothers me is that environmental issues are the issues du jour. Everyone is talking about them, with good reason. And I'm not saying to stop--I think we need more discussion on environmental issues. But when we speak of the environment and ignore the human suffering that is happening around the globe--and in our own United States--it is a lopsided concern. We cannot be whole until we look at all these issues together. It's a pet peeve I have with PETA--I am all for the ethical treatment of animals. I just wish they were concerned about the human animal as well as others in the animal kingdom.

So, I won't get my cool IKEA cabinet that I was hoping to find. But I'll be able to live with myself for awhile longer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Church Camp

We have our church camp this week, and it's been a good week. Paul and I have been going back and forth, because of things we need to take care of--him, church stuff, me, garden, hens, and our freaked-out cat. Last night we got a date out of it--we went to the new restaurant that serves New Mexico cuisine on Lombard, Encanto. It was delicious! Paul had a very different chili relleno, and I had an enchilada dish that included grilled zucchini. Yum!

Anyway, back to camp. We had a very difficult time convincing Hibi that she should try church camp again. Last year was very difficult for her. She was the new kid, among kids that had been going to church camp for years together. She was (still is!) the priest's kid. She homeschools. And she's just a different kid. Plus she had counselors that were....well, just immature, not ready to deal with these issues. They were just young and didn't know any better. This year she got (at the camp director's direction) two *awesome* counselors, Christina and Margaret. They are crazy wild! And they are treating Hibi with rock star status! Plus she has started to connect with some of the girls. Perhaps also due to these great counselors? Anyway, they were going to have her play her guitar at campfire last night (we missed it)--her favorite, Country Roads. I also informed Hibi that there was someone else there at camp who didn't grow up here and might not be in a tight clique that she has prior experience with....though she didn't remember him very well. It was a boy whose family was at the seminary with us. The two of them were seminary brats together. Hibi always wanted to be his friend but he was a whole year and two months older than she and just was too old for her, in his opinion! That age difference is big when you're 4 and 5. They have been getting to know each other again, and are doing some chanting together. And man, he was the whiz kid then, and he's still the whiz kid. He chants very well.

It seems Zac is having a good time, too. I can tell because I haven't had much contact with him. :-)

Photos are being uploaded every day from camp, courtesy of Jacob Gorny. I found one of Hibi, in the drum circle the first night (for the oldest group only! Boy was that a shock to find she's in the oldest group). I was hoping for pics of me helping make prosphora (communion bread) yesterday with the kids, but it's not there yet, anyway. Maybe one will still be uploaded. Not that I noticed Jacob taking any pictures of it, but I didn't notice him taking other pictures of me that I saw.

Speaking of prosphora. On Saturday night we were at the camp with the counselors, and the kids were due to arrive on Sunday afternoon. Paul was to serve liturgy for the counselors on Sunday morning. He'd brought all his stuff he'd need for the liturgy. Except for one crucial element--prosphora! We all tried to think what to do about it: was someone coming out that could pick it up from the church? Not very practical as we'd have to get someone out there to open it up and turn off alarms....could we make it there? We could, but we didn't have a seal. The seal is a wooden item with carved out symbols on it, so it leaves markings from the symbols on the bread. Each symbol represents someone we commemorate during the liturgy--the different classes of saints, Mary, etc. and the whole of the church. What we finally came up with: I made the bread, and Martha, who is an artist, carved out the symbols in the dough with a knife. It actually came out beautiful! Maybe even better than with a seal. How's that for making do with what you've got? I wish I'd had my camera along to take a picture of that beautiful prosphora.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Zac's New 'Do!

Zac had another big moment today! He got half of his life of hair cut off. Well, almost--he's been growing out this hair for more than 4 years, and he's 10 now. We all think he looks super snazzy!

Here's the before, during and after pics! (No, he doesn't have smallpox or anything...those are mosquito bites that he just can't leave alone.)





Celebrating at Mississippi Pizza afterward!


Zac and I will send in both of our ponytails to Locks of Love together (no, I haven't gotten around to doing that yet!). And I realized that I still haven't posted a picture of me since I got my 19 inch ponytail cut off. (Yeah, I measured it after, and it was 19 inches! Maybe a big more than I would have had to have cut off.....)

So here's me, though I never wear my hair down. I hate hair in my face.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hmm?

Okay, maybe I'm culturally illiterate, but could anyone give me the definition of the phrase, "ripping me a new one"? Does it mean ripping a new hole in your body? Or what? Anyone? Liz?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Zachary, the reader!



This morning at 1:40 am, a momentous moment occurred. No, I wasn't awake for it either. But Zachary was. He finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to himself!

Zac is what's known as a late reader. He wanted to learn to read at ages 5, 6, 7. But the skills just weren't there. He asked me to help him learn and I tried, I really did. When I'd be teaching him to read CAT, he'd forget what C said by the time he got to A. He just really wasn't ready. I understood that, and I was quite sure that reading would eventually come for Zac, but boy, did he feel like a failure. He once asked me how old each of the other members of his family were when they learned how to read. Hibi? 4. Me? 5. Dad? Um, 3 years old! I hadn't wanted to share that info with him when he was so frustrated with himself but he asked me directly, and it made him feel even worse.

So, over the years I've read books to him because he really loves reading, but couldn't unlock that wonderful world by himself. I read Harry Potter, books one through six, to him and we all enjoyed them together.

Zac became fluent in reading sometime during the year that he was nine (though I don't have a magical time that I could say "he's reading!" like I did with Hibi) and we all rejoiced. He still hadn't read too much by himself, though--just a couple of Magic Treehouse books and parts of the Crispin books, when Harry Potter 7 was slated to come out. Paul said then, that he thought Zachary could read it to himself. I have to admit, I was skeptical! Plus, I enjoyed our reading marathons! But it was decided that we would buy two copies and each of the kids could read their own copy, and then when Hibi was done Paul and I could have our turns. They read in the car on our vacation, and on the day we got the book there was *no bickering.* What a great thing!

And it took Zac a couple of weeks, but he kept plugging away, and I even offered to read part of it to him (because I do miss reading Harry Potter to him!) but he said no.

Recently I read in the newspaper about a classroom filled with at-risk kids who can't read yet (at the tender ages of 6 and 7!) and I was heartbroken at reading about how they drill those kids over and over, to the point where they are so frustrated with themselves and still they have to keep drilling. I thought, that's not teaching those kids the love of reading. That's teaching them they are deficient and need a skill, no more than that. How about cozying up on a couch and just reading together? And when the skills come, they come.

Zac, even though frustrated with himself at times, never lost that joy of reading, that wonder at opening a book and finding a new world inside.

And that's why the world became a little more joyful at 1:40 this morning.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Good Vacation

I will stop, amid more and more laundry that continues to pile up to tell you about our good vacation!

We started our vacation in Bend, Oregon. We had two reasons for heading to Bend--first, that Paul's brother's kids are staying with family on their mom's side for a few weeks in Bend, and since they live in San Antonio, we wanted to take advantage of them being so close to see them. And the other reason is that we've been wanting to see the high desert museum in Bend ever since we moved to Portland. So, we took CJ, my nephew,along with us to the museum and had a great time! I was impressed by how the museum really seems to have worked hard at going lightly on the land, and not destroying a bunch of trees or natural landscape. But I thought I'd learn much more about the actual natural landscape than I did--we found it to be more about the people who have lived there--Native Americans and pioneers--than about the flora and fauna. Sure, there was that too, but not a whole lot of explanation of that side. All in all, a good time was had there, and I didn't feel it was too huge of a museum to see in one day.

So, after that we went and picked up Faith, CJ's sister, who has a summer job and couldn't come with us to the museum. We had dinner at Kebaba's, which had great middle eastern food. Faith and CJ have never had middle eastern food before. CJ didn't seem to be all that impressed with it, but Faith enjoyed it a lot. She told us there that she plans to attend culinary school. I said, oh! we should have had you cook for us instead of taking you out! Faith is 15 and CJ is 11, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable day and evening with the two of them.

And then we were off to Yellowstone! We had such a great time there. We camped, which is always fun. This was a different sort of camping trip for us though--we usually have lots of time to relax at the campsite. But at Yellowstone we were always wanting to go and see the sights. Our first day there we were driving along the road and saw people looking over an overhang, so we stopped to look. What I saw took my breath away. A whole herd of buffalo--probably 60 or 70! We were to learn that this was a small herd! As I looked down in that valley, tears came to my eyes as I saw what I never thought I'd see, and I thought, wow, we haven't destroyed *all* of the land. I thought bison herds in the wild went away back when we were doing that manifest destiny thing.

We soon learned in Yellowstone that as we drove along, if we saw cars pulled over at the side of the road, and people out of their cars, it meant there was wildlife to be seen. This sometimes happened at the rate of about 3 times per 10 miles! Elk, deer, bison, an elusive moose. Over and over! We never saw any bears, though. Perhaps because of the heat wave? One thing that was extremely disappointing to us: we were told that yes, you can see wildlife from the road, but the animals are not really in their own habitat there. Get out on trails and see them where they really live. So we did. Once we took a five mile hike. But we *never* saw wildlife while hiking, any bigger than a raven, that is.

I have permission to blog this.....one night we decided to get ambitious, even though we didn't have a whole lot of time sitting in the campsite. We decided to make a dutch oven stew. I learned how to do dutch oven cooking at Patrick's Point, where people have all the right implements for doing cooking over the campfire and we could borrow. All we have are the dutch ovens. But Paul found an old bent tent stake and was using that for lifting the lid of the dutch oven. Which you can do with a towel or pot holder, but if you have hot coals on the top you'd have to brush them off or they'll catch fire. So, we made a beautiful stew, and then I put dumplings on the top. Oh, it was looking good. And then it was ready. The stew was cooked to a beautiful carmelized yummyness, and the dumplings were cooked through. Paul lifted the pot with the tent stake, and was going to put it on the table when...it dumped upside down on the ground! My first thought was that we could skim what was on the top off and eat that....but there was no way. There was dirt throughout. He was *so upset!* I thought we should just go check out the lodge restaurant....but he really wanted that stew. No, I can't make more, I told him! Where would I get the vegetables? Heaven sake. So, what we did was to pick through and we picked up each piece of carrot, potato, and cauliflower. We rinsed each bit off. Then we cooked it again and I made more dumplings to go on top. Well, it was edible, though crunchy. And, as Paul said, probably better than anything we would have gotten in the restaurant.

In retrospect, I was thinking, thank God it didn't fall on Paul! That would have been truly disastrous.

One night there was a special program by Jack Gladstone, who is a Blackfeet Indian (he used the word Indian, so I'm going to use it here instead of Native American!) who is a singer/songwriter. We really had no idea what kind of a program we were going to, and I have to hand it to him--he was particularly brave for presenting these issues to a mixed crowd--people who are not necessarily there because they agree with his point of view, or who chose to go see him particularly. He addressed lots of progressive issues, such as consumerism and gas consumption, and of course how the white folks have treated the Native Americans. He reminded me of John McCutcheon, in that he really has a talent for railing on an issue without it seeming hostile! We bought a CD of his. If you have the opportunity to see him in concert, I'd highly recommend it! His website is here: http://jackgladstone.com/

Now, we were in Yellowstone camping the day that the Harry Potter book came out, the seventh and final book in the series. I had expected that the kids would absolutely *have to* have it right away. I found, online, a bookstore in Jackson, Wy that said "if you're passing through Yellowstone, this is where you can pick up the book", so I ordered it there. But the day before we left, I mapquested it and found that Jackson is a three hour drive from Yellowstone! We'd even planned on going to the midnight party. Can you imagine? Us getting back to our campsite at around 4 in the morning. Yeah, that didn't work for me. So I gingerly asked the kids if it'd be alright to wait until after we left Yellowstone to get the book. They said, fine! Phew! We picked it up in Gardiner (which would have been closer in the first place) on our way out on Monday. Zac is still reading it, but the rest of us are finished and we all liked it. It seemed pretty disjointed at the beginning, though. And like they went for months without really doing anything. But the end was satisfying. Although I thought the epilogue seemed somewhat contrived.

Hibi finished the book before we got to our next destination, which was near Bigfork, Montana. We wanted to be near Glacier, but this was the closest we could find that was what we wanted: a cabin. It was a 1 1/2 hour drive to Glacier, so we only went once. But here's the funny thing: I was expecting the crowds at Yellowstone, not Glacier. But it was the opposite. Or maybe Yellowstone has just been better at managing the crowds. The roads in Glacier were in disrepair, and everywhere there were huge crowds of people. We actually just drove right through on Going to the Sun road and went to visit the Blackfeet reservation on the other side. There is a museum in Browning which we thought was very interesting, and Paul bought a flute at the trading post, which has such a nice tone!

We went back to the visitors center at St. Mary for a presentation of Native American dance. That was really cool. All the dancers had on traditional, hand-made costumes and all danced spectacularly. Then we went back outside the park for dinner, to Park Cafe (http://www.parkcafe.us/aboutus.php) and I've gotta say: I didn't think we'd find vegetarian food in Montana. But this was the place! Not all vegetarian, but plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans, and quite tasty. The cafe reminded me of an old-fashioned country cafe, like the Whistlestop Cafe in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

On our way to the cabin, we found one of the coolest food co-ops I've seen. I think it even rivalled my very favorite, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco....it may have even been better! Shh! Don't tell anyone I said so! It was in Bozeman, Montana. I think I want to drive through Montana again just so I can go back to that co-op. :-) http://www.bozo.coop/ So, that's two great places in Montana to find vegetarian and whole foods!

So, then we were on our way back home. We took it in two days, so we stopped in Spokane for the night. There, we made a discovery: our very favorite movie, Benny and Joon, was made in Spokane! So, we had to walk over to the riverside park to see where they shot those scenes. In the morning, we went to Ferguson's Cafe, where they shot the diner scenes. It was cool seeing it, and they had a wonderful stuffed french toast! Then we went looking for the auto clinic that Benny owned in the movie, but we never found it. Ah, maybe next time we'll become full-fledged Benny and Joon nerds.

Oh, and before we got to Spokane: we stopped in Missoula for lunch and went to Bridge Pizza (http://www.bridgepizza.com/index.html). Paul and I had eggplant parmesan pizza! It was delicious and I'd definitely go back on this theoretical road trip through Montana!

I have no pictures for you at this time, alas. I had "camera" on the list that I checked a zillion times before we left home. But the camera still stayed home. The kids had disposable cameras, though, so when we get those developed I'll let you have a peek.

Thanks for reading my disjointed review of our vacation, those who are still reading!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

and the garden was beckoning...

We got home yesterday afternoon from vacation, and *of course* I'm going to tell you all about it! But first, what I've been doing today: harvesting and washing and bagging all this garden produce. It's kind of a crazy amount of food here!

A ton of tomatoes! Zac has been eating them like crazy, and I used them in eggplant parmesan last night. Not eggplant from our garden, alas; they are growing, but not there yet. These are the ones that are left over from all that!


Our first artichokes! Yay!


And the squash. Oh, the squash! Leaving squash to grow for two weeks (apparently our housesitter didn't feel like cooking) grows some awfully big squash! These are three zucchini (another the size of the bigger one is in the fridge) and two pattypan squash. Gosh! The fork is there for scale.


Tonight we have the Dorothy Day house anniversary to attend, so I'm still trying to decide among all the great produce we have here (also turnips and green beans and beets!) to cook for the potluck!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekend

What a weekend. And we're starting vacation tomorrow...

We went with some friends to their synagogue, because 3/5ths of the family was helping out with the service. Even though Hibi insisted when she was 2 years old, as we'd pass by all those synagogues in Boston that she wanted to be Jewish, I'd never been to a synagogue, and neither had she. Well, except for one of those faux-Jewish experiences, the Jews for Jesus type of church service, which was actually very interesting to us. It was right before we discovered the Orthodox Church, and perhaps the sense of ritual and liturgy helped us along that path? Who knows. Anyway, our experience was a good one, and I hope to go back sometime.

Ah, but blogger (or our new Mac, I don't know) isn't letting me put a link in the text. It was www.magpieima.blogspot.com 's synagogue that we attended.

Anyway, then in the evening said friend had a big birthday party for herself! I think I'm inspired. I think I'm going to throw myself a party next year. No more waiting around for someone else to do it for me. ;-)

This morning we had a very small choir at church, but we still managed to pull it off and I heard many compliments. After church, I walked into the hall for coffee hour and saw that a crowd of people was gathered off to the right, *not* where the coffee hour snacks are. Someone told me that a little old lady had fallen. Oh, that's too bad. But when this person mentioned there was blood on the floor, I ran back in the church to make sure Paul knew, as this sounded more serious than just a fall. He opened the door between the church and the hall, and I was startled to see huge puddles of blood everywhere! A man was cleaning it up and told me that she had hit her leg on the kneeling bench on her way out of the pew. That just didn't compute. That much blood? I went back in the church so I didn't have to step through the blood, and then saw a bunch more blood on the floor by the first pew. I don't know when I've seen so much blood.

(Susan, someone told me that you said it looked like someone had a miscarriage! Yeah, I can see that...)

So, it turns out that she had an ulcerated varicose vein, *and* she was on blood thinners. She was still at the hospital last I heard, about 8 pm this evening.

We're heading out on vacation tomorrow! We're going to Yellowstone and Glacier. Paul and I haven't been since we were first married, and the kids have never been. I'm looking forward to it! Doubtful there will be anyplace to blog from. (Yay! ;-)

But any would-be evil lurkers, don't even think about it, since we have a huge, mean, bald-headed guy house-sitting for us. Okay, not really. He's bald, but very sweet and a terrific guitar player. He just moved here from New Mexico to try to make it as a musician. Maybe he'll play his chicken song for you if you stop by. ;-)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Laundry


Last time we all got together, my brother wondered aloud to my mom, "why would anyone hang laundry out to dry anymore? When we bought our dryer it said that it only costs 10 bucks to operate it for a year!"

I must say, he's got a point. Why would I bother for just 10 measly dollars a year? Not even that, because I don't hang my laundry out when it's cold or rainy. But any chance I get to hang it out in the wonderfully warm sunshine I do it. I do it for that smell, that clean air-dried smell that you just can't bottle. I do it to get outside for a prolonged time twice (or more) per week. And I do it for the visual effects. See picture. What's more appealing than the color blocks of clean laundry, flapping in the breeze? And when you have clean sheets and clean pajamas that have both been dried outside, it's just pure bliss.

When I was a kid, I remember my mom getting after me because I hadn't hung the laundry correctly. "You didn't hang the shirts with shirts, pants with pants, underwear with underwear!" I asked, "why do you need to do that?" She thought about it for a minute and said, "I don't know. I suppose because that's how I've always done it."

I think that it's the way she did it because that's what gives her pleasure. Just how I get after Hibi sometimes because she doesn't hang shirts upside down like I do, or she bunches them up so they won't dry as fast. I'm trying to bite my tongue and let her have her own laundry pleasure.

I like putting up each load in a block, and then when you have loads side-by-side, you see this color block. I think that's pretty cool.

Some odd pleasures just can't be monetized.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Poem (rare as a blue moon)

moon riding
alongside my car
taking a trip through the irrigation canal.
Or rather
the moon's reflection, fractured and rippling.
The moon,
itself a reflection,
is almost full in the night sky.
I am
14 hours south
by car
of my home, yet
close to my hometown.
Darkness, even though
it's only 9 pm
(an hour earlier than darkness falls at home)
has almost surrounded me.
But one bright moon
and one bright moon-reflection
are my companions as I travel
to a place where...what?
I will be home again?
No, only a reflection of me
or perhaps I am the reflection.

Photo compliments of Flickr, taken by Tony and Sherice
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