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!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christ is Born!

One thing I've always loved about the icon of the Nativity of Christ is the midwives down in the right corner. :-) They are bathing the infant Jesus. Of course Jesus was born in the presence of midwives--that's how most babies in the history of the world have been born.

And yes, there are two Jesuses in this icon. Orthodox iconography has never felt the need to portray life as a photograph. There are many moments in time all wrapped into one icon here. The central figures, of course, are Mary and Jesus, lying in a manger (with cattle looking on). And then there is Joseph in the left corner, doubting the virginity of his bride, those doubts being fostered by the devil, who is portrayed as an old man. In the center left the wise men travel to find the baby, and to the right and top the shepherds are amazed by angels telling of the newborn king. So, you can see the whole story, here in this one icon. Pretty brilliant, huh?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Not-So-Fond Ode to Shoveling Snow

I am cursing the Oregonian article this morning that said that we should be "pushing" the snow, not "lifting", because snow shovels are made to push, not lift, and it's so much easier on our backs if we simply push the snow to the side. Because there is way too much *&#!@ snow out there to push! Now, granted, we haven't shoveled since Saturday and Sunday when Zac was out there shoveling to his heart's content. While it was still coming down fast and furious. And why was he so contented? Because he was getting *paid* to do it. And I think that all you parents (and big sisters) out there will understand what I mean when I say it was worth every penny to pay him by the hour. (Carissa, maybe next time you'd like to contribute?)

Anyway. Also granted that we don't have an actual snow shovel. Because why bother buying one, putting out good money, when we only need to shovel snow no more than once a year? I think the last time we shoveled snow was two years ago. And I think we did it once. And it was only about 2 or 3 inches. This? All told we got over a foot of accumulation. Oh, and it snowed some more this afternoon and it's supposed to snow tomorrow.

I did not grow up in a place where I had to shovel snow (see my previous post on this) and I always thought it'd be worth it to get some snow. And I still think it'd be worth it, to get *some* snow. This is over and above what I always tell people--that I think it snows the perfect amount here. Just enough to enjoy it for a few hours, especially if I don't have to drive in it, but not enough to be a nuisance. This? This is getting to be a nuisance. What we usually get in Portland melts within a few hours. We've had this stuff since Saturday and it's not melting yet!

Okay, before I get too grinchy-sounding I'll admit: this has been fun. To be really snowed-in and not be able to go anywhere and make hot chocolate and have so many excuses to make all kinds of goodies (and in that way, a good thing for snow-shoveling, as I didn't have any other way to work it all off....) is really kind of fun. A different kind of space. I've had lots of reading time. And lots of computer time, as well. (Should get off now and do some more reading!) And so, I will remember this time fondly, not grinchily. And when things get busy I'll probably even miss it.

I hope you all are warm and snug.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Poet Zac

Zac doesn't write a whole lot (though with starting school, he will be writing more...) but when he does write, I am constantly amazed. Where does this come from? I ask every time I read something he wrote. Anyway, here's what he just wrote:

by the fire getting warm, there seems to be a feeble form, a babe in a box of down? with a face not yet brown from the sun? does this child have a name? huddled by the feeble flame? with his feeble head of hair, the babe jesus sitting there? with the fire burning bright, in the darkness of the night.
A good Christmas week to all who celebrate it!

Snowy Sunday

And here is the view from our porch this morning:

I really need to learn how this new camera works though--too washed out to really see the damage!


I have to say, all this snow is good for blogging. Good for home-improvement projects, too! As long as you have the materials you need. Which we did--we went to the Rebuilding Center on Friday and got the old molding and found one hook, and to Rejuvenation for the rest of the hooks. Then all that was needed was some screws (and a new drill, as our old cordless has officially bitten the dust) which could be obtained at the Fred Meyer that's only two blocks from our house--easy walking distance. (Well, I say easy, because it wasn't *me* walking it!)

We bought a coat rack when we got to Portland three years ago. We bought it from a place that specializes in making their own wood products, which is what we thought the coat rack was. It was only when it literally fell apart last year that we saw the label on the bottom: made in China. What gives? Anyway, I think this will definitely be more sturdy. And we'll sure appreciate it after being without a coat rack for a year now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Weather Outside....

Sorry. Now you're going to have that song stuck in your head EVEN MORE than you did before. I truly apologize! I'm getting a little punchy after being largely snow-bound this week. I still am incredulous that it is *still snowing* here in Portland! We were forecasted to get a good snow last Sunday....and I drove to church in it, thinking when I got there that gee, I might just have to take the bus home. I did drive home but not without thinking at some points that I would surely not make it up that hill, or that I was about to hit another car by sliding. But I got home safely. And surely, if I just holed myself up until Wednesday then we'd be fine? But no. The warming-up that was supposed to occur on Thursday did not happen. Well, okay, it was warmer. The snow that fell that day didn't stick.....very much. And yesterday it snowed a little in the morning and more in the evening, though it was over 32 degrees and didn't stick at all, even late into the evening. I went out with friends last night and we had no worries about getting anywhere because it just wasn't cold enough.

But this morning it started snowing before I woke up, and hasn't stopped. Literally. It's now 1 pm and it hasn't let up. We might even have some 3 inches of accumulation out there, which is quite amazing for Portland! Snow is to continue through tomorrow...meaning another lean day at church. I think I am going to take the bus this time, though, since we'll have the accumulated snow and ice to contend with. It's 25 degrees out there now, making me think that it's not really going to get up to 34, which is what my weather widget says.

Zac has had the unique opportunity to be disappointed for snow! Usually he's jonesing for it. But this week it made him miss *a whole week of school!* He only went to school for one week and then missed every day this week. Poor kid. One day he'll appreciate snow days....

Back in my day, we didn't have snow days, as I lived in central California where the only snow we ever got was just a few flakes and everyone talked about it, but it never stuck. But we had our equivalent: foggy day schedule. The fog in central California is deadly. Seems like just about every year there's a huge accident where there's 50, 60, 70, even 100 cars all piled up because you just can't fricken' see 5 feet ahead of you. Why people drive at speed in those conditions is beyond me! I can remember a Christmas Banquet that I attended (banquets are what my Mennonite high school had in place of dances....because God forbid we actually dance, an activity that was good enough for Biblical characters but not good enough for us) and my date was actually driving *with the door open* so that he could see the stripes on the road to know where on the road he was. It was way out in a rural location, so there wasn't a whole lot of danger, as long as we drove slowly....still, there were ditches to drive into and....well, I just can't even imagine letting my teen out in those driving conditions!

So, that's it, my little ramble about snow and fog and bad driving conditions and....oh, I didn't say anything about hot chocolate and a good book. But there you've got it: if you're in a place where it's cold and the weather is treacherous do as I'm doing. :-)

Monday, December 8, 2008

School Endings and School Beginnings

Two places I didn't think I'd be a year ago!

First, my last day of my Anatomy and Physiology class was today. It was incredibly challenging and rewarding and I learned a lot, PLUS formed community with an amazing group of women. I am so hoping that all of us who applied for the midwifery course get in! The difficulty is that the school can only accept 16 new students each year, and there are 31 applicants. Gaa! We're all nervous and hopeful.

The second, which I did not expect in a million years: Zac started school today! We have always homeschooled, both of our kids, for their whole lives up until now. Zac is 11, and in sixth grade, and it just felt like one of those choices that was best for everyone involved, and especially for Zac. I was feeling uncomfortable with the idea of me starting school and him staying at home, and feeling he needed more structure in his life and a better social network. And he is so excited to be in school! He's in a great little K-12 alternative school and I love the environment there. And Zac is just loving it. Eating it up. I am so proud of him for having the courage to change up his life when it was advantageous to do so, and not just cling to the familiar.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

negative space

it's the sky
between the limbs
of barren trees
that I look for in the Oregon autumn.
Bright blue
dark gray
mottled or
a mix of sun and cloud.
always changing
as a backdrop
to those branches
which change, also, more slowly
but do change, season by season
and even day by day.
Each bringing it's own beauty,
each moment a new stunning
Rain, sun, wind
all adding their own
master's touch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Follow-up to the Abortion Issue

This website just about perfectly sums up my own beliefs on the issue:
ProLife Obama

To only illegalize abortion would simply make for more unsafe abortion practices, and would make abortion more of an upper-class practice. To truly support life involves a much more complex societal shift.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Whole Bunch of Groceries

I got four bags plus a backpack of groceries on my scooter today! That's a bunch!

I also bought a "scooter skirt" yesterday in the attempt to stay warm while on my scooter. It was in the high 40s and wet but not raining when I went grocery shopping. And I was warm with: scooter skirt, water-resistant (not water-proof, a I found on Monday night...) pants, jeans, thermal underwear, shirt, thinsulate/fleece hoody, scarf, heavy jacket, and gloves. Gosh. I hope I'll be warm enough when it dips into the 30s! One thing I hadn't really thought of until I got my scooter was how cold that wind chill factor makes riding.

Proud to be an American!

Yes, I am proud today. And the whole world is proud of us.

(11-05) 07:56 PST , (AP) --

World reaction to Barack Obama's election as America's first black president:


"Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." — Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president.


"This is the fall of the Berlin Wall times ten. America is rebecoming a New World. ... On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes." — Rama Yade, France's black junior minister for human rights.


"If it were possible for me to get to the United States on my bicycle, I would." — Joseph Ochieng, a 36-year-old carpenter who celebrated in Nairobi's Kibera shantytown, one of Africa's largest slums.


"It's the beginning of a different era in the U.S. The United States is a country to dream about, and for us black Brazilians, it is even easier to do so now." — Emmanuel Miranda, a 53-year-old police officer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


"No doubt that Obama will be better for the Americans and the whole world, and being elected after the horrible policy of George Bush is enough by itself. Whatever change he can bring to the world after this catastrophic polices would be great." — Hisham Abu Amer, 28, in the West Bank town of Ramallah.


"Today, reality in America has superseded fantasy. ... Americans have struck a deadly blow to racism all over the world. Americans have regained themselves and have regained the American dream. The picture of the U.S. that was disfigured by the Republicans in the past eight years fell from the wall today. The picture of the America we had in our minds has taken its place." — Prominent Saudi columnist Dawood al-Shirian.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes, We Can!

And we did! I knew in my head this was what would happen, but I didn't expect the swelling of pride that came, the surprise, and the overwhelming feelings. Woooohooooo!

The Day to Choose

I used to be a single-issue voter.

Back in my more conservative days. Even when I started getting more liberal. My issue was abortion. I saw it as a tragedy for the baby and a tragedy for the mother for abortion to continue to be legal in the US.

I still think that abortion is a tragedy. It always is a tragedy. There are other tragedies, too.

Like a mother choosing abortion because she doesn't have adequate health care to cover her pregnancy.

Like a mother choosing abortion because she doesn't have an income that will support a baby.

Like a mother choosing abortion because she has pre-existing health conditions and has children already, and no insurer will insure her and she has to think about being there to mother the children who are already born. And feeding those children who are already born.

It comes down to this: how do we treat mothers in this country? Do mothers feel supported? I changed my mind completely on whether abortion should be legal. I now support fully legalized abortion. Because I think there are better ways than laws to address tragedies. Or perhaps I think that different laws can address this tragedy much better than just illegalizing it.

And I think that some of the policies that we hold in this country make for tragedies. Obama is being accused of being a socialist, but I have socialist leanings (I may even be a full-fledged socialist) and I can tell you, he is not a socialist. But he wants to work to make big companies that are currently running the show accountable for their actions. He wants to help out those of us in the middle class. I hope he will also make policies that will help the lowest-income folks, too, but middle class seems to be what his focus is. I don't think his health care proposal goes nearly far enough, and I am hoping against hope that it won't fail miserably because it doesn't address the root issue: private insurance. How did we get to this place, where insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are running health care? People who are trained medical professionals don't call the shots. Those who are making big money off health care are. And are buying off the medical professionals.

Just watch Sicko for a view of what could be different.

So, abortion. I think things can be different. Will women still choose abortion if we have better services and fully support women? Yes, of course. But it is my belief that more women will not choose abortion when there are true choices for them to make.

This woman chooses Obama for president. And chooses not to be a single-issue voter any more.

Please vote! Today is the day! Make your voice heard. I turned in my ballot on Friday and Paul is turning his in right now. :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where's Matt?

And if you're discouraged from thinking about elections, or the state of the world, or the economy, I have just the non-partisan antidote for you. Watch this video:

We've all been kind of obsessed with it. The first two times I watched it I cried tears of joy. And then we all watched it together, lots of times! And we still love it. And the last time we watched it, I was trying to get a better look at where the filming took place for the San Francisco shot....and I still am not sure where it took place because we all got sidetracked by recognizing friends in it! After you watch it several times you can look at the San Francisco shot and find the girl with long dark hair in the front on the right, and that's Jesse, and behind her with short light hair is her mom Robyn. Hi Jesse and Robyn! Cool to see you in such a cool video!

what's going on

Busy busy, that's what! Lots of stuff. Like, tomorrow I have my formal interview at the college of midwifery! When I was at class on Monday night, there was an interview being conducted across the hall from us. We heard lots of laughter coming from that room! We all hoped our interviews go that well. :-)

And this weekend I am attending a labor doula workshop, another prerequisite to entering the program. It's an intensive full weekend, Saturday and Sunday all day, and then one more weekend later in November.

And just to give me a bit more chance to study up on bones as an intensive Anatomy and Physiology study, Zac fell off his bike last week and broke his humerus, in the cancellous bone (which produces red marrow) and it may be a break across the epiphysial line. Meaning, it's at the end of one of the arm bones in the wrist, and the break may cross the growth plate which means he needs a specialist to make sure that it heals properly, because his arm still has some growing to do. And we didn't even figure out that he broke it until three days later....see, he fell off his bike and broke his arm four years ago, so he was sure, having this experience to fall back upon, that it wasn't broken. But when it was still painful and swollen three days later we figured we had to figure out what was going on.

So, he finally got his cast on yesterday, a week after he broke it. What neglectful parents we are. It's a pretty red cast and I said it's a good thing it's now, as opposed to in the hot summer, because it'll be a lot easier to deal with for three weeks (which I didn't think was too bad after all). I don't think it was actually all that bad of a break.

My anatomy and physiology class is going well. I think I'm getting the hang of it! It still seems like too much work but I'm fitting it in and getting into a rhythm. I like it that it's just a once-a-week class, so I can get all the work in at once for the whole week. And it's fun being in a class with all other women who are planning on being midwives. Not everyone in the class is applying this year, but they're all planning on applying at some point.

Think of me tomorrow (Thursday) between 5 and 6:15, and send up some light for me. I'm actually not nervous at all and am just excited. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Midwifery Application

I turned it in today. Just thought I'd let you all know. :-)

They should be calling me in for a formal interview within the next month or so. I'm excited!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Scooter Practicalities

At the risk of this becoming a scooter blog (is there anything so wrong with that? Maybe a scooter and midwifery blog!) I have added a list of what I have strapped to the back of my scooter or otherwise hauled on it. One thing I thought of when thinking about whether I could replace my car with a scooter is what do I haul stuff in? Now, I can't haul a dresser or anything like that on it....but I can fit an amazing amount of stuff on/in it. So here you can see, on my list, what kinds of things I'm finding practical for that. I'd love to hear from others with scooters, in the comments section, about what you haul on your scooter!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Here she is, my Dora. I got impatient of not having a picture and finally had Hibi take one with my phone camera. And yes, I do wear a helmet when riding, but that doesn't look very good for a picture, now does it?

By the way, in case you're interested (or for keywords for other owners!) it's a SYM Fiddle II.

A Scooter Tale

Just had to tell about the doofus thing I did on my scooter the other day!

It was Monday, the day of my Anatomy and Physiology class. It was a *gorgeous* day, high 80s. Perfect for riding. It was my day to bring a snack to class, and I'd thought at first that would preclude me riding my scooter but no! where there's a will there's a way. I made tabouli and put it in a cooler, then strapped it onto the back of Dora. It worked just fine. Then I rode down to Reed college, to meet a friend for studying together, then I went to New Seasons in Sellwood to get the remaining things I needed for my snack--feta, olives, pita. Came out, loaded Dora up, all ready to head for class.....and then....she wouldn't start. She was acting like she was out of gas! How could this be? It was still showing 1/8 tank full, and I'd only put 72 miles on it since the last fill-up (supposed to get 90+ mpg, and it has a 1 1/3 gallon tank). But I could not get Dora to start, so I set off for a gas station. When it dawned on me how far away the gas station was from where I was....I called a friend who lives right there in Sellwood, but he wasn't home. He did, however, help me figure out how to get there on the bus on his work computer. So, I did that--took the bus, got gas, took the bus back and of course I was going to be late for class.

And just as I got off the bus back at New Seasons....

I thought to myself, did I forget to turn off the kill switch?

There is a hidden button on my scooter to make it impossible for a thief to just hotwire it....and I'd thought that it would just cut off the battery altogether. But apparently it makes it seem like it's out of gas.

And so, I had to try it before I put the gas in...and of course that's what it was. Wasted time, late for class! But I have a good story to tell. And next time I think it's out of gas, I'll remember to check the kill switch!

The Next Step for me

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time. But I am busy with that next step and finding myself with much less free time! So, here I am, on a Thursday afternoon with a couple of errands to do and studying to get done.....but I want to write this out first. So here goes.

I wrote about the restless feeling I've had for over a year. Developmental, getting close to 40 stuff. Kids getting older. Feeling the need to get out and find something meaningful. But what?

Paul and I have also had our challenges. Being married for 19 years, two kids, mortgage, pets, church, settling into life in Portland.....we have changed a lot in the 20 years we've been together, but perhaps hadn't changed our relationship accordingly. This summer took us through lots of examination of how our marriage works, how our family works, how we'd like to be and how to get there. And here's part of what that change looks like for me.

I am planning to enter a midwifery program in the spring! There is a college of midwifery right here in Portland, and I am currently taking an Anatomy and Physiology class there--a pre-requisite for entering the program. I'll also be taking a doula workshop to fulfill another requirement. I am so excited! And scared, too. I have been thinking about birth since Hibi was born, and about midwifery since Zac was born. I've put it on hold, maybe even blocked it out of my thinking, because it didn't seem possible or plausible. (Don't we already have one high-demand career in this family?) But here I am, at this juncture, jumping off and not looking back. It is a risk, but I think I'm up for it. I hope I am!

That all means some changes in how our family works. Paul has already taken on a lot more housework, and is even cooking at least once a week! The kids have even stepped up and are doing much more than they'd done before. And as far as homeschooling goes....the plan right now is for Zac to go to school in the spring, when I'll be starting my program full-time. He is actually looking forward to it! I think it's really just what he needs right now. Homeschooling has worked really well for us for many years....but it's time to re-evaluate and figure out what works best for us right now. This seems like it could work very well for all of us.

Friday, September 26, 2008

time for a change....and a blog post!

I've been meaning to post for days, weeks....almost a month! Really. The reason I haven't? Our camera is broken. And I can't take a picture of Dora. So sad, I know. Oh yeah, you don't know who Dora is. Well, this isn't Dora, but it looks just like her. :-) I'll post a pic of me and Dora as soon as I have one. And then I'll also tell you about what other changes are in store for me.

Monday, August 18, 2008


One blog I read has the inscription on it: In the process of re-inventing myself. (Or maybe I'm paraphrasing.) And, you know, so am I.

For the past year or so I've been feeling....restless. Not really knowing what was going on with me, whether this was just something I ate or what. My kids are getting older--at ages 11 and 14, they certainly don't need me constantly like they did when they were 1 and 4. And then there's my age too--I am 39 1/2, and it was pointed out to me by a nun whose spiritual counsel I value highly that many women have an awakening at around 40 years old. That is exactly what I feel I am having. I am wanting to re-find myself, re-make myself maybe.

Part of this has been reading the book Dance of the Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd (author of the book The Secret Life of Bees). I began reading this book about five years ago, and it was very poignant to me then, but seemed so very dense which is why I put it down halfway through. It was suggested to me by a friend that I take it up again....and so I took it along on vacation. I did not put it down this time, rather I finished it and then passed it on to Paul who also read it cover to cover. If found it very meaningful to my life just now, in a very woman-empowering way. The book examines the spiritual lives of women (from a Christian perspective....I am not sure that women of other faiths would not take anything from the book, but I think it is particularly meaningful for those of us who have questions about our own Christian tradition and are trying to "make it fit" in our lives.

So, all this has made me think about what is coming down the pike for me in the future, what will be the next phase in my life....and thinking over all my options. I'm thinking about going back to school, specifically, and doing either something that I've talked about doing for many years or something new and different that I haven't always dreamed of. I still need to do some more thinking and reflection and figure out what's going on in me.

Another book I've read and enjoyed and laughed and cried with was Eat, Pray, Love. Some of the ways in which the author experienced self-discovery I am also experiencing.

It's been somewhat of a difficult birthing process, but I think what comes of it will be worth it. I'll be writing more about this in the future--and include more specifics as they become plain to me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


And, of course, we wanted to sample the local food in NYC. Paul and I had both thought to want New York City real Jewish bagels. But when I got online to find a place....I found Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery.

It just sounded too good to pass up. I don't think I'd ever had knish before...and I wasn't even quite sure what they were. And we were not disappointed! Our silly children, of course, balked at trying something new so they went to the Whole Foods previously referenced--Yonah's was only half a block from there--and got themselves pastry. Well, I doubt that Hibi could have gotten anything vegan at Yonah's anyway. But Zac tried a bite of my knish and was in heaven. Paul and I usually get different things so we can try each other's....but the cherry cheese knish sounded divine to both of us...and it was! Oh, yum. Someday I'm going to go back there and have another. Even if it is hot as hell. :-)

Plus. When we got inside I saw on the menu: egg creams! Yes, for breakfast, Paul and I got one to split. It did not disappoint either. The only thing that disappointed was the coffee. I'm told now that you just can't get good coffee in New York City. I'm glad I didn't waste my time looking, then!

Yonah Schimmel's is a hole in the wall, so if you're looking for something really fancy, don't. :-) It's definitely a neighborhood place, no frills, just awesome knish.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Maryhouse happenings

Wow, we've been back from vacation for a week and a half now, and I still haven't updated my blog! I wanted to share a couple of funny things that happened to us at Maryhouse, the Catholic Worker house in Lower Manhattan.

It was *so hot* there when we got there. And unlike when it gets hot here, where we can open windows or go to the basement, the windows in our room (on the....what, 2 1/2 story? maybe third, I'm not really sure) were way up high, as it was one of those old buildings where they put the windows way up high. Why? I have no idea. I guess they hadn't figured out that ventilation would be really needed in these old buildings? Anyway. It was so hot that I took a cold shower before bed, and then when I woke I immediately rinsed off in another cold shower. That was one hot, miserable night. That day we bought another fan, as they'd provided us with one, but can one fan hit us all? Not unless we were all huddled on the same side of the room...and it was way too hot to do that!

That morning I was sitting outside, trying to find a place that was two degrees cooler than inside, drinking my coffee. Dee, one of the residents at Maryhouse, comes out and says, you know what you need to do? You need to go down to Whole Foods. It's only four blocks away and it's cool in there and there's coffee and you can get any kind of food you want and you can sit in their second story cafe and have a great view. Well, she seemed a bit pushy, but we needed to get breakfast anyway, and going somewhere *cool* sure fit the bill. So, we set out. She had already told us how to get there, and it *was* only four blocks. We were standing across the street waiting for the walk sign to come on (a sure sign that we were tourists) when Dee popped up, seemingly out of nowhere! She had written down the name of the store (yeah, I already know the Whole Foods chain!) and what street it was on, and was there to give us better directions for how to get there. Um. It's....right across the street. It was not the only time Dee would act as our tour guide, and we were expected to do what she suggested! Though at the end of that first day, when she heard all we'd done, she was impressed by how much we got in and said she didn't have anything more to suggest. :-)

On our second to last day, we were planning to head to Greenwich Village. Paul was sitting in the dining room looking at our New York City book, and found the Greenwich Village pages, and saw there was a nice walking tour. Then he was asked to help wipe down some tables and he put the book face down, with it opened to the pages about Greenwich Village.

When we were ready to leave, Paul went back to get the book. It wasn't where he left it, but a bit of hunting around and it turned up. We left Maryhouse and got on the subway. Once we were on, I asked, so which stop do we get off? He went to look at the book to see what stop we wanted. He's looking and looking....and then says, what happened?!? There are, like, 10 pages missing!!!

Zac and I both instantly remembered seeing that there had been a man sitting in the dining room cutting what looked like magazine pages up into little bits. He had a whole big old pile of them. I figured some kind of art project or something like that.....and if it is, apparently our Greenwich Village pages will be a part of it. ;-) Fortunately we were able to remember, mostly, where we needed to go, but I have a sneaking suspicion we may have missed something.

Staying at Maryhouse was a great thing, though, heat and interesting people just being a part of that. It's in a great location and it was nice to see one of the places where Dorothy Day did her work. I have no idea if the movie was shot at all on this location, and it probably wasn't, but if you've seen the movie Entertaining Angels (about Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin) there is a scene on a staircase that looks exactly (from my memory) like a staircase we had to climb to get to our room.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


We're in New York City currently, until tomorrow evening when we fly home. We are staying at Maryhouse, which, while not the original Dorothy Day house, it is where she lived out her last days. We've been having a great time in the city--the Staten Island Ferry, site of the twin towers, the UN headquarters, a great farmer's market where we had a great lunch yesterday, and....the Broadway musical Spamalot! Which was absolutely hilarious in a way over-the-top kind of way.

Back to Maryhouse. We have been blessed by being part of the Catholic Worker community for coming up on two years now. And one thing I love about the community is it's particular brand of spirituality. The posters that adorn a Catholic Worker community embody the love of Christ carried out in a very practical way, by caring communities of people.

I was just reflecting, over breakfast, the commonly seen poster of a wildflower (weed, really) pushing up through concrete, with the word "Resist." In this view of the world we are really just called to be who we truly are. The concrete takes intentionally creating something unnatural, but the flower is just being a flower, growing, feeding, seeking light, as flowers do. It is this natural act that constitutes the act of resistance.

And so is our resistance, not really resistance per se, but just being who we were created to be. If we remember who we are and resist the call to be who we are not, we can accomplish great acts of love.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One cool and unexpected thing about Washington DC


I hadn't seen fireflies since I was a little kid. My kids hadn't ever seen them before! I am loving seeing them every evening. Well, they weren't out the evening it was raining. They don't want to get shocked, after all. ;-)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Our Four Days in Boston

We've just completed the fourth full day in Boston, and we've had a great time!

Tuesday: first we went to Kupel's Bagel shop for breakfast, where we used to love to go when we lived here. I can't remember what day we'd usually go, because it seems that Saturday would have been a logical choice, but they are closed on Saturdays. Because it is a Real Jewish Bagel Shop. So, I don't know when we used to go, but when we'd go it'd be crowded in the shop and we'd buy our toasted bagels with flavored cream cheese and go sit on the steps on the funeral home across the street to eat them. Yes, it did seem somewhat disrespectful, but that's what we did. This time, it was 10:30 before we got there (it was only 7:30 at home...) and so we sat in the uncrowded shop. I was halfway through my bagel when I realized that the funeral home was now a ReMax. I guess it wouldn't be disrespectful now?

Off to our friends house--we'd gotten in too late to go there the night we got in, but we stayed with Matt and Laurie starting on Tuesday evening. They have a cute little flat in Somerville, where we have enjoyed their great hospitality and their beautiful little girls. Plus it's very public transit accessible, which has been very useful as we're trying to do as little as possible with rental cars this vacation! We'd planned to get a zipcar to go to the beach, as we knew of no good beaches within the city when we lived here, but I heard from two sources about Revere Beach, and it was truly a find. Especially in the hot, humid weather we had our first two days here. We went there on Wednesday. But first, the rest of Monday....we arrived at Matt and Laurie's house and had a delicious lunch with them. Later we left to take a Duck Boat tour, which was fun but not as fun as the risque NashTrash tour that we took in Nashville two years ago. ;-) Oh, also there was ice cream at Cafe Vanille that was so good and, more importantly, cold. I had the Triple Chocolate, which was thrice as good as regular chocolate (which is pretty darn good).

Best tee-shirt quote so far, spotted on Monday:
Jesus Saves.
Jews Invest Wisely.
After the duck tour we walked over to North End for some yummy Italian food at Famiglia Giorgio's. Huge portions of good food for not too much money (for North End standards, anyway)...what more can I say?

Tuesday: we went on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail, which included a trip back to North End for pastry. We opted to not go to the more famous Mike's Pastry but to follow the suggestion of Maria's when she said to go to Caffe Vittoria. Oh, she was right. Tiramisu, an eclair, and a pistachio canoli were had, along with Italian Vanilla Cream sodas and coffee. Just what I wanted.

I can't leave out one of Zac's favorite parts: running through the fountains at the entrance to North End. It was so hot and humid that I wouldn't have guessed getting wetter would feel so good, but it did.

The water at the beach was cold but not bone-numbing like the Pacific ocean is. It cooled us off very nicely.

And Thursday was much cooler! A very pleasant day, weather-wise and otherwise! We bummed around Harvard Square and Central Square in Cambridge. Looked through two different bookshops. Had hot chocolate and a croissant at Burdick's. I didn't mention yet that Hibi, our vegan, is not with us this week, did I? Yes, we are enjoying not having to ask the question: what do you have that's vegan? Come Monday I'll have to think of that again but we're living it up while we can. :-)

After lunch, Paul and Zac left me in Central Square and headed to the Charles River. Zac had been wanting some not-so-urban adventure, so Paul found a place where they could go kayaking! Woohoo! They had a great time. I got some time to myself, which I used just to walk, mostly.

On Thursday evening we went out to dinner with Matt and Laurie to a Meditteranean restaurant in their neighborhood that we'd noticed on our way in, and Matt said he'd wanted to try out. The food was quite good, and we all took turns carrying the baby outside, as babies are wont to begin fussing when their parents are eating, especially in a restaurant. :-) She was perfectly happy outside, though, so that made it easy for turn-taking and saved the mama from all the non-eating.

Today we finally visited the seminary campus, where we made our home for four years and where Zac was born--literally, as he was born at home. The place was kind of deserted, but we did find a professor of Paul's there, and enjoyed having a few minutes to chat with him. I don't think either of us had seen him since we left 9 years ago, though we've enjoyed befriending his sister, who is married to a priest in our diocese.

We looked all around our old apartment, though we didn't feel comfortable to knock on the door and ask to see inside. But we walked around to the back, where we found wild turkeys! Zac brought a feather home that one had dropped. That was the same spot where Hibi spotted some "puppies" once when she, at age 2, was looking over the balcony so intently that I asked what she was doing. "Looking at these puppies," she told me. When I looked, I saw a mother skunk and the cutest little brood of babies you've ever seen.

Went into the chapel, which was unlocked even though there was no one around, and into the admin building, where also there was no one around (except the professor in his office...I suppose there could have been people in other offices that just didn't make themselves known). We did a forbidden thing and went on top the roof. (Shh!) Someone took us up there when we first arrived, I don't remember who, but the view is just amazing. Of course they don't want anyone up there, which is why it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission. :-)

That was all we had time to do today, besides eat lunch at Orinoco on Harvard in Brookline (yum!) and do some food shopping for our train trip tomorrow. Because the seminary isn't exactly public transit-accessible. And we had a long walk. Two of them, there and back, which didn't leave much time or energy.

And now, everyone else is in bed, and here I sit finishing up this post! I need to get to bed too, and tomorrow we're headed to Washington DC! I love train rides, so I will enjoy tomorrow.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Yes, that is what we are doing today! Leaving on vacation. Woohoo! And what a trip we have planned! We've never done anything quite like this. We usually do car trips, camping a lot of the time. This time we are flying to Boston, then we'll be in Washington DC, then upstate New York, then passing through Pennsylvania to see our godson and his family, then New York City. Wow! The DC part isn't technically part of our vacation, as we'll be going to our church's national conference (maybe I'll see some of you there?). And we're fortunate to have a blogger friend who offered to put us up in Boston! Soon to be not just a blogger friend. :-)

We'll have a laptop with us so I'll still be able to get email and perhaps I'll even blog from afar.

Hope you're all having a good summer! And happy trails to those, like us, who are taking to the road (or the skies, as it may be)!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Junior Ambassadors

Hey, we just went to that place last night! Paul and I finally tried a little cart that sells, among other things, homemade ice cream in quirky flavors (chocolate cayenne was one of the choices last night). I guess neither of us were feeling adventurous and both of us had root beer floats, with plain but good vanilla ice cream.

And then this morning I found this article in the Oregonian about the place. I loved the eccentricity of the little cart, and it's quirky owner and his bicycle-riding girlfriend. And I love what he has to say in this article. (Sorry, Oregonian, I am cutting and pasting because if I link to you people won't be able to read the article after 14 days without paying. And honestly, who pays for an online newspaper?)

North Portland food cart is a place of mind
A creative chef reveals the culinary arts of the society of Mostlandia
Saturday, July 05, 2008
The Oregonian Staff
Rudy Speerschneider poured the batter onto the skillet with a sizzle, and the small food cart filled with the scent of cornmeal pancakes.

The bright orange cart parked in a rented space on North Albina Street has become the blossoming spot for Speerschneider's culinary imagination and an accessible example of the creativity bubbling in many Portland neighborhoods.

The Fourth of July marked one year for Speerschneider's business, called Junior Ambassador's. Among his celebratory menu items Friday: "little smokies," or mini-hotdogs in barbecue sauce on a cornmeal pancake, and his from-scratch ice cream, including bluegrass (blueberry and lemon grass) and gingersnap cookie with basil.

"I'm trying things most people haven't had and making sure they feel comfortable doing it," says Speerschneider, 36, whose bushy brown hair fans out around a straw visor he wears with the bill pointing skyward.

Speerschneider and Junior Ambassador's are the merchant face of Mostlandia, a society that he and three friends "discovered" in 2004. Mostlandia is both a shared state of mind about recapturing optimism, possibility and childlike wonder, and an orderly bureaucracy including everything from rules for citizenship (so far there are 222 citizens) to official forms for "deep commitment" to a partner.

"It is a simple idea," Speerschneider says, "but it's hard to explain simply."

The society started with performance art, detailed on its Web site. Members mounted the Mostlandian Misplaced Items Authority in 2005 at Reed College, for example, an interactive lost and found that handled cases including lost socks to lost love.

But with the addition of the Junior Ambassador's cart, Mostlandia also has come to embody the notion of food as art, community and gift, all cornerstones of Portland's foodie culture.

Speerschneider, who grew up in Michigan, trained as a painter and illustrator at the Ringling School of Art and Design (now Ringling College of Art and Design) in Sarasota, Fla. But as an artist in New York City, he realized how rarely he experienced people's reaction to his work.

Cooking and serving in restaurants after moving to Portland in 2001, he came to see food as a creative yet communal outlet. When he made something good for people, their delight was tangible.

As Speerschneider preps on this Fourth of July morning, his girlfriend, Emily Lieb, hops off her bike with a canvas bag filled with cabbage and cilantro for the slaw he's making. Lieb works for the city and helps Speerschneider on weekends.

"I love it," says Lieb, 29. "It's a lot of work, though. It's not 9 to 5. It's all day long."

Speerschneider issued a food preference survey to Mostlandian citizens through the Department of Well Being to help shape his menu. Mostlandians responded that ice cream is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. So, at various times, he offers vanilla ice cream blended with maple and bacon; tomato and mozzarella on a bed of basil with a balsamic reduction sauce, and coconut curry, to name a few.

At noon, Lieb opened the gate and put out the Junior Ambassador's sign. David Frank and his sons Liam Bendicksen, 8, and Jacob Bendicksen, 10, arrived soon after, enticed by a magazine write-up.

"It sounded interesting," Frank said. "A little offbeat, but the food sounded good."

Speerschneider talked them through the menu, and the boys chose grilled cheese on cornmeal pancakes. Frank ordered the little smokies.

They dug in at Speerschneider's picnic table.

"That's good!" Liam proclaimed.

Jacob added, "Who would've thought of grilled cheese on pancakes?"

From his perch in the cart, Speerschneider watched, listened and smiled.

Erin Hoover Barnett: 503-294-5011; ehbarnett@news.oregonian.co

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


on a steep little gravelly path to
stunning views of roiling seawater
with steep edges on each side
I found
and she was good enough.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

40 and 19

That's how old Paul turned yesterday. And how many years we've been married today. Just amazing how time goes by and how things change and how things stay the same.....

Paul's birthday and our anniversary are inextricably entwined. We got married the day after his 21st birthday. We looked like babies and people couldn't believe we were getting married!

I've been telling Paul for a couple of months that we should have a party for his 40th, because that's a big one! And he's been putting me off. Then it was "I want to do something *meaningful* for my birthday..." but he didn't know what that was. And finally, a week before his birthday, he said that a party would be nice. And the meaningful part? He wanted, instead of gifts, for guests to bring a poem, a prayer, a reading, or a song to share.

The guest list was necessarily small--I had only a week to prepare! But Paul declared it "just what I wanted!" I made cheese fondue with veggies (I woke after midnight and remembered: I'd meant to also serve grapes and apples with it, which I think would have been scrumptious!) and bread, and for dessert we had Strawberry Lemon-Lavender Shortcake. Paul made mojitos and also shared some of his birthday scotch.

And we had poetry (one original poem, written just for Paul!), a reading, songs, and a reflection on turning 40 from someone not too far ahead of Paul on that.

One of the guests had a series of birthday questions that got us telling stories from the past. Our first Christmas together. Worst gifts received (I don't think anyone came up with a best gift--seems the worst are the most memorable, huh?) and family traditions of birthdays.

The day we got married looked a lot different than the day I'm looking out at right now--it was a hot, central California day. We had a few pictures taken outside, but in the shade and quickly before we melted! Memories from our wedding day:

Paul wore a white tux. And he'd just had warts removed--quite violently!--by the dermatologist. Which produced blisters. And blood and white tuxes don't go together well.....word was sent to me before the wedding that he had blood on his tux and I sent word back: cold water! (Doesn't anyone besides the bride know these things?)

Feeling like I was about to burst with happiness walking up that aisle at the end of the ceremony. And it shows on our faces in the picture!

Paul wanting to skip out on the reception--too many people he didn't know, too many hands to shake and names to forget. My mother said we had better not dare!

The friend who sang at our wedding--he forgot words to the song but just made up new ones and made it sound just as good.

And we pre-recorded us singing together to play at the wedding....and right now, I can't even remember what that song was! I think I need to find the tape of our wedding and listen to it.

Paul, a lot has changed since that day 19 years ago. But my love for you endures. I love you more deeply than I did, I love you not with a 20-year-old's love but with all the experience we've had together, the good and the not-so-good, the joy and the pain. Through it all you have loved me and I have loved you. Happy Anniversary!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

chicks--never were

Oh, poor Mama Bear--contrary to my friend Maria's assertion, I believe that chickens can and do feel emotion. And Mama Bear is distraught right now. None of her eggs turned out to be actually containing any babies. They are all gracing the compost bin right now. :-( After sitting for 4 weeks now, hoping for babies, I think Sally's assertion--"*I'd* sure be frustrated!" is correct. I would be too. And sad.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Children in Church

One part of being a priest's wife that I really love is being such an integral part of a church community. Coming into such a warm and loving parish was a true joy for me. We had come from kind of loose ends, dangling at the Metropolis (Paul worked as deacon to Met. Anthony, and then later as the chancellor, but didn't exactly have a parish assignment) and at St. Nicholas Ranch, neither of which provided real community, other than the small group of people who lived near the Ranch in order to be close to the monastery (or live in the monastery) that is adjacent to the Ranch. But our parish here in Portland is so large that it can be very overwhelming. After 2 1/2 years I *still* have people come to me and say, oh, you're Fr. Paul's wife! Not to mention all the people whose names I may or may not have known at one time but it simply not possible for me to learn them all. But slowly, gradually, I am getting to know more and more people at our church.

One wonderful way of getting to know the families in our church has been house blessings. In most Orthodox churches, the house blessings are done quite soon after Epiphany, which is in early January. The theme of water runs from Christ's baptism in the Jordan to sprinkling our homes with holy water to remind us to keep each part of our regular lives holy.

Anyway, it's been a pleasure to get to know many families in this way--we've spread out house blessings to about one a month, and we go for dinner and stay for a few hours and really get to know the family one-on-one.

Yesterday we had a house blessing and it was more than just getting to know the family, it was also a reminder of something that has been important to us since we first had children and have now....well, it's so easy to forget the issues of young children in church! Our children were 11 and 8 when we came here, and they are now 14 and 11, and we haven't had to deal with some of the challenges that young families face, here in Portland. Our children, for the most part, are still and quiet in church, and both of our kids participate in the service--Hibi as a choir member and Zac as an altar boy.

But in speaking with this family who has kids ages 8 months and 5 years, I was remembering the plight of the parent who dares to bring their children to a quiet church. This is especially prevalent in larger churches like ours, unfortunately--the larger the church, the more it's expected that if children are going to be there, they have to be absolutely silent. And that is just not a realistic expectation of young children. There are many, including certain hierarchs, who think that parents should not bring their young children to church. And that is just wrong. Children belong in the church because children ARE the church. In the Orthodox church, our children are full members as soon as they are baptized, which occurs as early as 40 days old, usually somewhere between 3 and 8 months old. They are part of the body of Christ and to try to keep them away from the body of Christ is to cut off part of the body. The church cannot survive if we have this attitude toward children.

Some say that they want a quiet space to worship God. That if there is a child making noise, their worship is interrupted. I would say that if quiet is necessary (as I think it is--even to mothers of small children!) then perhaps some quiet contemplation at home or in another private setting is in order. Church is for the purpose of corporate worship--the whole community coming together for one purpose. Not for one individual to have quiet contemplation.

And unfortunately, church is often not a place of support for young families.

I have so many stories from when our children were small! I'll share a couple of them.

When Hibi was a baby, we were visiting a church we hadn't been to before. We'd met the priest once before, though. So, when we walked into the nearly-empty humongous church and saw the priest walking down the aisle, we thought it was just to greet us and were surprised. But it wasn't just to greet us. He did greet us, and then said in the warmest voice, that his church has some very special seating reserved just for families of young children! We could sit in either the last row, or in the second to the last row. Oh, how special we felt! (Sorry, couldn't help putting a bit of sarcasm in there.) If a church is trying to be a welcoming place to young families, telling them they can only sit in the back is the wrong approach. Children are small people with small attention spans. It really helps if they can see and interact with what is happening in front. We always sat in the front or near the front with our small children....and still prefer to be in the front (though the choir stands in the balcony...). If you want to save some seating for young families, save the aisle seats (and whoever thought of having the center aisle as an aisle that's not okay to walk down? Parents often need it to take their children out for a diaper change or a change of scenery before re-joining the congregation).

I guess the only other story I'll share right now is just a short anecdote where I was made to feel absolutely awful. I don't even remember what this woman said to me, but someone caught me in the narthex of church once and let me know that she thought I was way too lax in letting my children be noisy in church. I suppose this story is not only to remind us that children should be in church, but also to remind people of the plight of the presvytera. (And others who have to parent alone in church.) The priest's wife does not have the help of her husband in church, she has to parent alone, in one of the most difficult situations to parent. Church is not an easy place to be a parent of small children, because of all the expectations put on parents, plus the expectations of the priest's family, and she has to do it on her own. In this situation I did not go back into church, where I'd been headed, but to the bathroom where I had a long cry. I was so upset. It is emotionally draining to deal with small children in church all by yourself, especially if the children are not naturally docile (where do those children come from, anyway?). Please be merciful and helpful to parents of small children, especially to parents who are alone in their church-time parenting.

Paul will be using this reminder to educate the parish in being a welcoming community for all members of the church. I'm glad for it, because I can remember just wishing that the priest would say these things!

no chicks

No chicks have hatched yet. I'm starting to think all are duds--I know one is, at least. Too bad for poor Mama Bear. Her mama longings have been thwarted once again.

Friday, May 30, 2008

no little chickies yet

Just in case you were wondering.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

little chickies

Meet Mama Bear. Mama Bear really wants to be a mama. She's been a mama before, but chicken mothering is short-lived. Their babies really grow up too fast. In 6 months, the babies are moved out into their own apartments drinking way too much beer and doing things their mama really doesn't want to know about.

We adopted Mama Bear a little over a year ago, and I can't tell you how many times she's gone broody in that time. Broody is when a hen wants to hatch eggs. They'll sit on any eggs, or none at all if they're not available, and lose all their underbelly feathers and ruffle out the rest of the feathers to make a larger warm place for an optimal hatching area. Yes, even if there are no eggs to be hatched, or if the only eggs available have not had benefit of being fertilized by a rooster.

So, to make my Mama Bear happy, I obtained some fertile eggs from the chicken goddess herself, Tonya. She's who gave us Mama Bear to begin with, and understands Mama Bear's longing to be a mother. I asked for 3 or 4 eggs, and Tonya gave us a dozen. Huh. She's really evil that way. ;-) In exchange I gave Tonya some of my homemade chocolate soap.

So, that was three weeks ago yesterday. I put the eggs under Mama right away and she's sat on them faithfully ever since. Chicken eggs usually take about 21 days to hatch....so we should have been on schedule to hatch yesterday. But all there is so far is a hairline fracture on one of the eggs. I'm trying to resist the urge to check them any more than, oh, once an hour or two.

When we lived at St. Nicholas Ranch was the only other time that I've had eggs hatch. A hen got broody and sat on some duck eggs! I thought it would be great to have more little ducklings around (because ducklings are the absolute most cutest baby animals in the whole world....and then they grow up to be funny, klutzy adults!) so I let her sit. Ultimately, we had three very cute little ducklings hatch, with a chicken mama. But I thought they were late, and then I thought surely the eggs weren't viable anymore, and finally I thought, gee, it's so hot that surely they are rotten and might even explode and make a terrible stench. So I decided to break one open and see what was inside.

And was instantly so regretful that I'd done that. Because there was a live little duckling in there that couldn't possibly survive now that I'd broken it's shell. I couldn't even actively kill it, and instead just buried it. I felt so bad! So, I will not be breaking any of these eggs, at least for another month.

So, here's Mama, in all her mama glory, sitting on her four eggs. Watch this space for news and pictures of new baby chicks!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Haphazard Gardener

I have never been the kind of gardener who plants things in neat little rows, never having one thing overlap another. My gardens are like crazy quilts. And I've never worried until we moved to this house about what my garden looked like at all, but here it's in the front yard. It still looks crazy! but there is some order. Just not neat little rows.

After a long, cold winter, my garden is finally growing all over the place. The things that overwintered in the "old" side are tall and overgrown; the plants on the "new" side are coming right along. As I've been weeding in the last couple of days I've been noticing the new growth and potential in my garden. During Holy Week I was chagrined to find my bok choy going to seed, and I whacked off the top to try to delay the bittering of the greens. But by the next time I noticed it, it was way too far gone and now the mustard and kale have followed suit. I decided to change tactics and attitude, because I've noticed ever since I became a "serious" gardener that if you can just get something to re-seed itself, it will grow so much better than when it's direct seeded or planted. So I'm looking forward to lots of kale, mustard, and bok choy!

When it was so cold for so long, so many rainy days, I became lackadaisical and didn't care what was going on in the garden. For awhile I berated myself for it--would I fall behind? Would I not have as much growing as I wanted? But yesterday, we found, growing among the beet seedlings that we planted, many little tomato seedlings that were growing from last year's plants! And they are so much further along than the ones we were trying to start. Now the only problem will be to figure out how to grow beets and tomatoes in the same space, or how to transplant them and thin them for optimal growing environments.

Our herbs are going crazy!

Last year, I bought an oregano plant, and then when I needed more oregano that that plant could give me at that time, I bought another one. Now both were in my garden and both were huge! I just don't need that much oregano. So if anyone would like some oregano transplants let me know.

On the "old" side of the garden we planted, as a front "hedge", rosemary and lavender. Later I put some parsley in there too. All have gotten quite large and will need to be pruned back. There is one place where I can stick my face in and have lavender touching my right cheek, rosemary touching my left, and parsley touching my nose, and together they smell just amazing.

Every spring we live in Oregon I am amazed at the vast growth of the plants. They just seem to leap to life here!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Life and Death, Sun and Rain

Today was predicted to be warm and sunny, and the day did not disappoint! I got up early this morning to go out to breakfast with Paul. I didn't mind being up early at all because the day felt so glorious. I sat at the table with him and told him that I really do think gray, rainy days are beautiful, in a melancholy way, with all the different colors of gray and the moving clouds and how the sky looks through the trees. He called me a liar. :-) But it is true, I do appreciate days like that. But days like today, warm, sunny, vibrant--just make me feel happy all over. And all those gray days make the wonderful days like today seem so much better--and they *are* better, because of all the green that the rain brings. The rain is not only beautiful in it's own (melancholy) way, but it is also life-giving.

I attended a funeral today. And of course, life and death are like the gorgeous days and the rainy ones. There is so much to be celebrated in life, so much good. But it is bittersweet because of death. We all know that life must end someday. I am always reminded how beautiful and wistful the funeral service is in the Orthodox church, where even if you didn't know the person who is being buried (as I did not today) it is a reminder of life and the fact that we need to live well, and that it is temporary.

This reading is always profound to me, even though I've heard it multiple times:
And once again I looked with attention on the tombs, and I saw the bones therein which of flesh were naked; and I said, "Which indeed is he that is king? Or which is soldier? Which is the wealthy, which the needy? Which the righteous, or which the sinner?"

After we are dead and gone from this earth, all that will be left to distinguish us is what good or ill we did on this earth that is lasting. What made a change for the future? It will be kindnesses, relationships, and it will be ill will or selfishness. It will not matter who had and who did not. How will we nurture the life of the future of this world?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I have posted the original Mother's Day Proclamation here before--twice!--but today I am going to refer you to my friend Maria's blog, who just found out about the great beginnings of Mother's Day in this country.

And does anyone else remember the tradition of everyone wearing a carnation on Mother's Day? I first heard it from my dad. He said you wear a red carnation if your mother is living and a white one if she is deceased. I'd like to hear of any other Mother's Day traditions.

I received one of these creations from my family, similar to the retro or the pink doodles. And Paul is out right now washing my car, after he and the kids cleaned it out. What a great gift! Tonight they are taking me to The Farm Cafe. And, I got a nap in this afternoon. What a great day!

Happy, happy Mother's Day to all the moms and those who mother, whether their own children or not.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Must be another Blue Moon

For me to write another poem....

Sitting in Powells
the City of Books
using Women in the Middle Ages
to write on.
How many books?
thousands, millions, billions?
I don't know where to look to find
a book about you
and me.
Like being in a city of a million people
and not knowing where to find someone
to connect with.
Our city isn't a million
but still, a lot of people
and I didn't know
until you dropped
into my lap.
How? I don't know
a gift--from God?
a gift--from you
Someone who isn't afraid
to explore the depths
to laugh and cry
get mad
love deeply
share hearts
know when to quit.
Scary journeying to and exposing hidden darkness
with you I feel safe.
That you are really, truly
and care
and love
and willing to be there with me
is only one reason why
I love you.
and when a pure and true and right love
turns into a love that sticks around even in un-wholeness and hurt,
in brokenness,
it becomes a source
of healing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bright Tuesday Post

Ah, I once again overestimated how much time I'd have to blog during Holy Week!  We don't do anything but Holy Week during Holy Week so I always think I will have plenty of time for "home" kinds of things.  But there are hours and hours and hours of church services in there, and plus cooking!  It was an amazing, exhausting, same kind of holy week but different kind of holy week.  I'm always amazed at how I remember the rhythm from year to year but it's always a new experience, too.  

This year there was a difference for me.  Holy Saturday is traditionally the time of bringing new Christians into the church.  And this year we had 10 (10!) new members join our community on Holy Saturday.  Five were brought in by baptism.  And one, Jonna, gave me the honor of asking me to sponsor her.  I was delighted!  Jonna is married to a Greek man, but instead of converting before they got married, as some do, she took her time to get to know the church.  She's been very involved in our community, helping with the Cusina cooking program we did in the fall (along with follow-up sessions).  I am happy to be her godmother.  This was the first time I'd sponsored an adult, so it was a new experience for me!  

I helped with the chanting all week and sometimes was in charge of it.  And I am happy to report that the apple cider vinegar remedy for my acid reflux has really done well for me this year.  That didn't stop my voice from being completely thrashed by the last hymn I sang:
It is the Day of Resurrection
Let us be radiant in the Festival!
Let us embrace one another.
Let  us call brother and sister
Even those who hate us 
And forgive all things in the Resurrection.
And therefore, let us proclaim!
that Christ is Risen from the dead
By death trampling down death!
and to those in the tombs
bestowing  Life!

Sunday was Great and Holy Pascha--Easter in the Orthodox church.  We had our midnight service and our 11 am service, which seems like a lot but by that time in the week it just seems like normal!  On Sunday afternoon we had three different gatherings to attend.  I ate a small amount at each and still found myself able to eat--just barely!--at the third.  I tried my first vodka ever, which I surprised myself by liking.  I don't usually like hard liquor straight up.   

Paul didn't get to rest yesterday like I did, but is taking today off.  He is working on the greenhouse we've started building, and will come to homeschool co-op with us in a bit.  Tonight is Taize service at the Catholic Worker house, and we plan to go for that.  A nice, relaxing day.  

A happy Bright Week to you all!

Friday, April 18, 2008


My parents were visiting tonight, and we went out to a pizza place for dinner. We sat at a table right next to the large window overlooking the street, and while we were waiting for our pizza, my dad suddenly pointed out the window saying "oh no!" And there was a car that, while trying to park, had scraped against a parked car. She had a tough time getting her car backed away from the other car while trying to do minimal damage. We kept watch while she tried to excavate her way out, then a man came out to direct her how to do it, and then she successfully parked her car. She came inside the pizza place looking for the owner of the car, unsuccessfully. She then left a note on the windshield.

But what made this blogworthy was another observation my dad made while she was writing the note: the license number of her car was 565 BAM. Poor girl, it was fated.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Muesli the hen

It looks like we can call Muesli our hen now! Seems she's decided it's a fine place to live and a good family of hens here. She started out just by staying longer than she'd been, and a couple of nights when the hens were getting ready to go in for the night, we picked her up and put her in. Then we had nights when we weren't here at dusk and she finally decided that she could go in by herself. She's been in for three nights now of her own volition! And laying really tiny beautiful eggs that I look forward to sampling once Lent is over. :-)

And speaking of which, yes, as Deb said, I'm slowing down with blogging. Just too much going on, and too little going on all at the same time. And I'm ready for cheese and not having it yet. Soon....I'm sure I'll be back before Pascha so I won't say Kali Anastasi yet. ;-)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tears update

Funny timing, this, just after I got a comment on my Tears post saying that tears in the workplace are not acceptable. Well, I didn't really address crying in the workplace, as I don't really have a context for that--I haven't been in the workplace for quite a few years (though I do remember fighting tears at times).

This morning when I finally got around to reading the rest of the Sunday newspaper I was very interested to find this article by Margie Boulé.

(I wish I felt okay about copying and pasting, so you don't have to look at the Macy's underwear ads, which I didn't have to do while reading it in paper form. But there you go.)

It's about a news anchorwoman who lost it on air. And about: is she allowed? Are we allowed to still be human while at work?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Road Trip!

Tomorrow, the kids and I and a very sweet friend who agreed to come along for the ride and help me out with driving are heading out of Portland for California. Our first stop will be San Francisco, where Zac will get to spend some time with his very best friend in the whole world. We'll get to see best friend's family and another good friend from church while we're there. And have an Indian dinner in my favorite Indian restaurant with my brother and sister-in-law. (Alas, they were busy for breakfast, so no crepes with ice cream at Crepevine! Maybe next time.)

Next we're going to central California, where my parents and grandmother live. My grandmother, who will have her 103rd birthday in less than two weeks, has decided that she is tired of living. She has had a full life and has outlived how long she wanted to. She is ready to die. I don't know if you can will yourself to finally die, but if you can, she's about to. I wanted to go and see her one last time, if things do go the way she wants them to. It will be a bittersweet visit, one that I'm not sure I'm fully prepared to make.

So, Happy Early Birthday, Grandma, and Godspeed.

"Our" new hen

I put "our" in quotes because she hasn't decided whether she belongs to us or not yet.

Our neighbors across the street had 3 hens when we moved in. I think it was the second time we came to look at the house, that the hens were on the lawn of what would be our house! I thought, cool! Someone else in the neighborhood has chickens.

Well, two of their hens got killed by a raccoon, and they were down to just one. And one hen by herself is not a happy hen. Plus, their garden is in the backyard, with nothing protecting it from the chicken(s). And so they decided to give Muesli the hen away, and perhaps start from scratch when they've got some kind of fence up around their garden.

They offered Muesli to us, and we decided to go ahead and take her. But the problem is that she knows where home is--just across the street! She's only slept in our coop one night, the night they brought her over and we shut her in immediately. Since then, she comes and hangs out in the daytime and goes back to her favorite hedge to sleep in at the neighbors' house.

She has been a good companion hen for Louise, who lost her hen friend Thelma last May when a raccoon killed her. Louise seems lately to be feeling her age (I actually have no idea how old she is) and has been doing a lot of laying around.

And Muesli has laid us one egg! The delicately-colored robin's egg blue one on top is hers.

Beauty Everywhere

Gleaned from Molly's blog, a link to an SFGate article which includes this gem:

In Margaret Cho's "Beautiful" tour, she talks about recently being on a radio show and having the host ask her point-blank, live, on the air, "What if you woke up one day, and you were beautiful?" When asked, he defined beautiful as blonde, thin, large-breasted, a porno stereotype. Cho says, "Just think of what life is like for this poor guy. There's beauty all around him in the world, and he can only see the most narrow definition of it."

Friday, March 21, 2008


Excellent! That's how it was, Mimi! ;-)

We got up at O dark o'clock this morning. I actually woke up an hour earlier than necessary and so I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, which I'd planned on just bringing with me. We took the bus down to the Coliseum and met my friend Maria there.

Earl Blumenhaur spoke first, and gave great reasons why we need to have Obama as our next president. Then, introducing Obama, was Bill Richardson, giving his endorsement to Obama. He talked about Latino issues and African American issues, and Maria leaned over and said, they'd make a good pair for the presidential election. When Obama began speaking, I thought perhaps she'd called it and he was going to announce something! Of course, it's too early for that but they were awfully chummy. Except for their man-hugs which weren't all that convincing. ;-)

Obama spoke of the need for us to look for what's good and right in America. He spoke of not dividing us into groups, where it's the us vs. them mentality. To see that the Latino child, the black child, the child from Appalachia, they are all OUR children. We need to make them a priority and not just say, oh, those children can't learn, or that it's too bad for them that they're poor.

He pointed out many of the bad policy decisions that have been made in the last 8 years, and it was staggering to me to hear them all lumped together like that, the sheer number. No Child Left Behind. The war. Torture. Guantanamo Bay and Abu Graib. Wiretapping. The diminishing of our constitutional rights. And he said something I believe to be very true: that it is going to take bravery and a struggle to right all these wrongs.

I did not agree with everything he said. He talked about using our military wisely and I'm not sure what he means by that. When he spoke of needing to be prepared more than just having a military, I cheered, but he went on to talk about how we need to be prepared to use that military. I was thinking, it starts way before that, when we are choosing how we will deal with nations that we don't necessarily agree with.

He made the statement that he is not anti-capitalist, and I frowned. But he went on to say that when a CEO makes as much in 10 minutes as some make all year that this is WRONG, I cheered. That's certainly not the capitalism we know.

He also dissed the lobbies and stated that he did not take their money. I wondered: can this possibly be true? That he has accepted no gifts from special interests? I don't know the answer to that question.

He is not quite as progressive as I would like. But he is the best hope that we have for our country, I truly believe.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fill it up

Yesterday I had an experience that caused me to think through some issues, lots of different thoughts in a short amount of time.

I went to Arco to fill my car up with gas. Here in Oregon, we aren't allowed to pump our own gas, a gas station attendant does it for us. At most gas stations they still have the outside credit card machine on the pump, but at Arco they don't do that. How Arco deals with it in Oregon is to fill up your tank and then you go inside and pay after the tank is filled.

So, I got inside to pay, and realized to my horror that Hibi hadn't put my card back in my wallet after she used it. I had no other credit card, just my bank card, as we've been trying to reduce the temptation to just use credit when it's convenient. I had only a few dollars in cash, and of course, gas costs much more than that. My 20 gallon plus tank takes over $60, always, to fill. I shamefacedly told the attendant that I didn't have my debit card. I'm so sorry, I said. Sorry! he yelled at me. Sorry isn't good enough! What do you mean you're sorry!?! He yelled at me while I tried to think, what else can I do? I offered a check, but of course they don't take checks. I was standing there thinking, there is nothing I CAN do. "Sorry" is all I have. And a promise to come back with my card, but he was having none of it. Finally he referred me to his manager, who wasn't nearly as irate with me but was still somewhat angry. I offered, again, my check, or I could come back in five minutes with my card. He said, do both.

I left the gas station contrite at my mistake. How could I do this? That was so stupid. Of course they can't trust people to come back....this must happen to them all the time.

I came back to the house and rifled through Hibi's room looking for my card, as she was at tae kwon do. It wasn't there. I hadn't been able to get hold of Paul on his cell phone, so I'd have to drive over there--taking much longer than the five minutes I'd promised the Arco guys.

As I was driving there anger began to replace the contrition. How could they treat me like that? Yelling at me because of an honest mistake. I began to be indignant. This is no way to treat a customer. I could tell them that I certainly wasn't coming back to THIS Arco. I would pay my debt and that would be the end of it--there are plenty of other gas stations. Besides, they have to have some option set up for this situation, because they don't ask for payment in advance like other gas stations.

And then another phase came in my processing. I thought about the two different cultures of the two men I dealt with. The first was Latino, the second African, both obviously originally from another country. Perhaps yelling is a culturally acceptable way to deal with anger in their cultures. Letting off some steam. Maybe people deal with each other in this manner and then everything is okay again. Customer service isn't the same in other countries.

And then the final stage in my processing: realizing what these two men, just because of their culture and their skin color, must go through every single day. Something that I, a white woman, cannot even begin to fathom. Because, contrary to some opinion, racism is very, very much still alive. They must deal with mistrust and worse, all the time.

And I can't deal with a little yelling?

I went back and paid with my credit card. I chose to be mostly silent. At the end, I apologized for my mistake and let the manager know that I understand he must get people all the time "not able to pay." He thanked me profusely for my honesty, something which I don't think I should have to be thanked for.

I guess I see this whole situation as part of our broken world. It will not heal from more anger, but from understanding.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama in Portland!

And another Obama item! He'll be in Portland on Friday morning! Rally at 9:30, doors open at 7:30--yes that's a.m. Yawn. But I'll be there, along with Paul. Our silly children are content to let this historic moment pass them by as long as they get to sleep. :-P

Tickets are free but required. Go here for more info. Oh, oops, too late--they don't have any more tickets. I'm glad I got mine!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Race Speech

I knew, when I read this morning that Obama was going to address the race issue in a speech, that he could do it well. But Paul and I just listened to it online and if I hadn't been tired and closing my eyes on the couch, I would have jumped up and cheered. It was amazing! Please, please listen to it if you haven't already.

And to top off my evening, I just read this post on Andy's blog. Andy, you've got a way with words!

I've been hedging my bets somewhat on who I plan to vote for, but it's sealed now. Obama addressed race in a way that hit just the right note. I want him for my next president.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Feeling what's right in the world

I just read the latest post on my sister-in-law's blog, and have to recommend it to you all. LaDonna is proclaiming for today what is good in her world, contrasting with focusing on the negative. I was feeling this way yesterday too--looking for the good and finding it, because there is good all around us.

Good Things I have enjoyed this past week:
1. a walk in the rain with Maria
2. seeing daffodils and other spring flowers, and smelling their delicate scent
3. eating a delicious lentil soup on the first day of Lent and really tasting it
4. sitting in silence and in community with others at our Clean Monday Retreat of silence
5. kissing each person who came to Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday and asking for and receiving forgiveness
6. seeing yet another knit-in-progress with rich earthy colors and feeling a bit of oh-so-soft silk yarn from Magpie's ever-present stash

And those are just the ones off the top of my head. I am so blessed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I've been kicking around some ideas about tears for a while, and wanting to blog about them, but I'm not sure what I've got that's cohesive. So, I'll bang it out here and see what I've got.

A couple of weeks ago I took my kids to their tae kwon do class. Usually Paul takes them, as he takes the class with them, but he was out of town. I'd never actually sat in on a class before and I found it interesting to finally see this great teacher they've talked up in action. In contrast to many sports coaches, she is gentle and lacks the macho attitude, and doesn't think that tae kwon do should ever be actually used to hurt anyone unless someone first is intent on hurting the student.

I witnessed many different emotions during the class. Some were excited over learning something new, some were anxious as they were new in the class, some were frustrated over not being able to get a move they were working on. At one point, the teacher had more experienced students work with less experienced students. When they came back together, I saw the teacher talking with one student, a girl of about 12. She first cheerfully said "don't worry, he really gives good advice!" And then, in a stage whisper, said "why don't you go get a drink of water." It was when the girl turned to do that I saw that she was crying.

It was interesting to me that I'd just been discussing tears with a friend. An emotional moment had occurred in church for her just the day before and the tears came. It wasn't anything that hadn't happened to me before. She told me that she is an intellectual, and tears are a no-no for intellectuals. The perception is that it somehow sullies logic to have tears involved.

My question is: why are tears shameful to us? Why is crying seen as something that makes us less objective and more volatile? I told my friend that I have been trying to allow myself the freedom to cry when I need to, but it is difficult to do so in the moment. Tears are unpredictable; we cannot plan for them and how they will be received.

I am not an intellectual, but rather am a deeply practical woman. Tears are no more acceptable for practical people than they are for intellectuals. What good comes from them? They don't get dinner on the table. They muddy things and get in the way. And yet, I am firmly convinced that they are necessary and good.

I'm not someone who cries very often, or feels the need to. But I think that tears are a sign of a depth of soul, that we haven't gotten too jaded. Tears show that we still feel. It's easy to hide emotion as long as tears aren't involved. As soon as the tears come, like for the girl in tae kwon do, everyone knows exactly how you feel.

And so, if people know how you feel, they know that you feel, and that you are an emotional person. Somehow it has become a good thing to mask our emotion and only appear as even-keeled as possible. In our relationships with people, emotions are good and necessary, they help us empathize, they help us see what is truly important. And it's the relationships that are the main thing in life. Perhaps relationships are life. Relationships are what make us human, and because we are human we have relationships.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Girl Hibiscus

Today Hibi is 14.  14 seems so much more firmly entrenched in the teenaged years than 13.  13 seemed sweet and young yet, eager, still waiting to find out what happens in life.  14 seems like she knows all about this teen stuff.  Plus it seems loud.  She got an electric guitar for her birthday!  Paul and Hibi actually went and got it on Friday, so she's had it for a few days, but today Paul went out and got the amp that she was still missing.  Suddenly our lives are more...live!  She really sounds awesome on it.  And she really needs a microphone now, so we can hear her singing over the guitar!  
I attended a discussion on feminism on Sunday evening, and I was sharing about how Hibi made me a feminist, not the other way around.  I shared about her correcting me on the use of the pronoun--when she was one year old, I'd be saying something like "look at that squirrel!  He has a nut."  And she'd say "She, mom!  That squirrel is a she."  But I forgot to say how life-affirming and powerful her actual birth was.  I think that's when she started making me a feminist--at the moment she was born.  No messing around--when she kicked and broke my water, it was four hours until she came out.  She was just ready.  
She was just reading this over my shoulder and laughing about the squirrel thing.  She says it's silly.  But my dear Hibi, you are not silly, even though you act silly sometimes.  You are seriously making the world a better place, and I love you!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Garden Path

Here's what we started out with yesterday (we converted it to garden space in December):
And here's what we did with it!  

Last year when we went to the Rebuilding Center and bought a cart-load of broken granite counter pieces, we paid $50 for them and were happy for it.  Yesterday, I went and found the same size of cart-load, and asked how much.  The guy said $15!  I tried to talk him up but he'd have none of it.  :-)

I even found a fossil in one of the pieces.  

And here's how the established garden is looking, this first day of March.  St. Francis was Paul's Christmas gift.  We like him there.