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!

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


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.


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.