About Me

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

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I am studying. Very diligently. I am glad to be discovering that I am figuring out my style. I used to despair when I just didn't know where to begin. I find that part of the process of beginning to study is trying to find where to take a bite out of a mile-high sandwich. Then I find a little loose end, finally, and begin to nibble. It's painstaking at first, but I find it doesn't really take more time in the end than if I had a systematic way from the beginning for studying. It's just the way I do this going-back-to-school-at-forty thing. Oh, and lots of facebook breaks. Lots. You wouldn't believe how many.

That's all; I just needed a short little break in how I use my brain, and now it's back to ovarian cancer, breast cancer, menopause, and cyclical hormones.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Oops, sorry folks, I turned on comment moderation because I was getting so much spam. I thought it would email me to let me know if moderation was needed! I went in today to look and there were a bunch of comments! I did not mean to censor any of you! I haven't been posting very often here, but perhaps when my winter break is here I can post. So, please, comment as often as you'd like, and when I see the comments I'll publish!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Two Years and Not Quite Ten Thousand Miles

My scooter,Dora, and I have been together for two years this month. It has been quite a ride! I had never ridden any motorized two-wheeled vehicle before I bought her. I couldn't even test drive her, because they only let you do that if you have a motorcycle endorsement and I didn't have mine yet. I remember after I signed all the paperwork, and Dora was wheeled out for me, and me asking, so, can you tell me how to ride it? The owner of the shop asked, well, you've ridden a motorcycle before, haven't you? No, I answered. Never? He asked incredulously. Who was this crazy woman buying a motor scooter at age 39 without ever having ridden anything like it? I somehow got it home, with a friend following me closely behind in her car to make sure I was okay and that no one else got behind me who would be impatient with me.

Dora has been symbolic of many new changes in my life.

That day that I brought her home with me was the first day of my Anatomy and Physiology class at Birthingway. A&P was a pre-requisite for applicants to the midwifery program. I did not ride Dora to class that night, however, as it was way too far and I was way too new and was way too not-licensed for me to do that.

I bought Dora somewhat on a whim. Kind of. I mean, like I said I'd had no experience. And I just kind of liked how scooters looked and rode. I was in great admiration of the small carbon footprint it possesses. Very good gas mileage and, if you have a newer one, very very low emissions. I didn't like driving around in my big old Volvo station wagon all by myself and feeling like I was wasting a whole lot of resources. I thought for quite awhile about how the kids would get around if I bought a scooter and sold my car. Because even if I only used my car occasionally, it was not cost effective to own both when you count in insurance. Finally, I just did it. I wasn't sure how it was going to work out, but I took the risk.

And I've loved how this risk has turned out. So far anyway! The greater risk, of course, is the fact that I am not protected and encased by steel and am out in traffic, riding just as fast as the cars around me. (I do not ride on the freeway however, except twice by accident and twice going to Vancouver--the bridge across is the freeway.) I've gone through several periods of time where every single time I was on my scooter I was thinking about many different possible ways to get really hurt or die on my scooter. Yes, they are dangerous. But wow, this is one risk I am willing to take.

My scooter has 9,203 miles on it. It's not nearly as many as I would have put on a car in that time. And yet, it is a lot of miles to be out in the open, wind buffeting my whole body, in the elements--rain, sun, wind, and on occasion a few snowflakes. I am pretty careful on it, but I do ride it year round. I don't ride when there's ice on the roads, but that didn't even stop me last December when the temperatures were under 32 degrees for a solid two weeks. It had been dry before the freeze occurred, so no precipitation was frozen from the beginning.

Last summer I took Dora out for a very long ride. I'd wanted to ride along the gorge as far as I could on the old highway. But the old highway fizzles just after Multnomah Falls and traffic is merged onto the freeway. So I turned back. I was planning to just go home, but my adventure had been cut short! I decided to go around, and up onto Mt. Hood. I travelled across Mt. Hood and down into Hood River. It was beautiful. But I had to have a shorter way home as it was late (I ate dinner in Hood River) and so I crossed the river and took WA 14 back. It was very windy! I thought I was going to be blown off the road. But what a great trip! I have been wanting to ride to the beach ever since I got Dora but haven't done that yet. Maybe it could happen before I start school.

I haven't done a trip quite like that yet this year. I only just rode out to Sauvie Island for a bit. It was fun though. I love riding especially on dry, sunny, warm days. Those kind of days were just made for scooter riding.

And now, the question lingers in my mind of perhaps straying beyond Dora? She is, after all, only a 125 cc. How much more power could I have at my disposal? I could ride on the freeway and take much less time if I had a larger scooter. It wouldn't get as good of gas mileage but I'd also be able to get up hills easier (I'm slowed to 40 mph or even slower on really steep hills). I don't know. It's a question I'll have to keep pondering but I do love my little Dora.

Here's to many more years of scooter riding!

Better than Potato Champion

OMG!!! Am I actually uttering such heresy?

First, I must address the fact that I am putting this post here, rather than on my food blog. Why? Well....(sheepish look).....because my food blog is a vegetarian food blog. And I? I am no longer vegetarian. And I will be putting up a review that will include MEAT. Oh my.

Now, on to the reason I should utter such heresy?

Well, second I must explain that this is rather a local kind of blog post. Here in Portland, we have a food cart revolution going on. It's really quite lovely, and one can get really good food for quite cheap. There are so many food carts around that one can find just about any kind of food one might want from a cart, and usually there are more than one cart that sells that type of food. These food carts are often arranged in food cart pods. A place where there are a bunch of food carts all together! How lovely is that?

So, a new food cart pod opened recently and I've been dying to try it. I already have one near me--Cartopia, home of the esteemed Potato Champion. Which sells the most awesome french fries with great dipping sauces. But Cartopia does not do a stellar job at actual meal food. I've gone there for dinner twice and what I had was kind of meh. I won't name names, but I just didn't find what I was looking for.

Good Food Here, the new food cart pod, was beckoning. And so, this evening my trusty co-food critic Zac and I checked it out. Oh my.

We decided first to have a tour of what was available. The first place I'd tried at a neighborhood picnic, Namu. Its Korean BBQ was to die for, but I'd already tried it, so I had to pull myself away as I really wanted to see what else was available and sample as much as was reasonable.

Other carts included Mexican, a smoothie place, an Italian sandwich shop, hamburgers/hot dogs/french fries, meatballs, and Thai. Zac and I decided to have a couple of tacos each while we contemplated what else to try. They were delicious. We each had a carnitas and a carne asada taco. Very fresh ingredients, and really took the edge off our ravenous hunger. They were just what we needed and I hope to have more soon, and also try their enchiladas.

We decided to split a burger and fries. Violetta has regular fries, sweet potato fries, truffle fries, and Oregonzola fries (Oregonzola is the name of a local gorgonzola cheese). We opted for the simple, both the burger and fries at the most basic level.

And then is when the mmmmming began. And then, the heresy. When we both confessed our new love for one of the most awesome burgers in Portland (I'd say its only rival is with Slow Bar's burger) and also that the fries just might be better than Potato Champion. I do have to temper all this gushing by saying they were too salty. But. The crispness level just went way over what is achieved by Potato Champion. I believe the secret to this delectability is that the fries are more thinly cut.

The burger had interesting things on it, even just as a basic burger. I think, but am not sure, that the tomato was not just a fresh tomato but was roasted. It was absolutely delicious. Juicy, sloppy, wonderful. Zac said that most burgers just aren't that flavorful, but this one was really flavorful. He was right.

Ah, food carts. How I love thee. Violetta, I'll be back.

Cartopia is located at SE 12th and Hawthorne. Good Food Here is located at SE Belmont at 43rd.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Update on me!

Wow. Now that I've broken the months' long silence here, I'll let you all know what's happening here. I am currently on summer break from school. I start back on September 17--we get a nice long 2 1/2 month break. I have finally gotten enough work to keep me afloat. During the summer, I am working 4 days per week, which is great for saving up a bit for my school bill which is not all covered by my student loans. I'm doing childcare for two different families, and starting soon I'll add a third family. In the fall, I will be doing one day with each family, and going to school full-time. Phew! I am really hoping I'm not taking on too much....I suppose I can always drop one of these days if I need to, but I also hate to let families down.

The fall term is Well Woman Gynecology for me and my second-year midwifery class. It's one of those things that we were all told about at the beginning....and I was dreading for a long time. Because the way my school teaches this subject is that we learn on each other. How are we to learn how to do pap smears and vaginal exams if we don't have actual vaginas to practice on? So, we use each others'. And I was dreading this for the longest time....and now I see the genius of my school's system. We are intensely with our own class for four terms, 1 1/3 years, and then we have gyn. So now we all know each other quite well and it's not such a thing anymore. What I'm really dreading now is hematology.....practicing IV skills and drawing blood on each other! That's always been the part of midwifery that has kept me from doing it. For years, over a decade! That won't be for another couple of terms though, so I've got some time before that particular skill is demystified.

I'm also taking Botanicals II, which I am so looking forward to. Taking Botanicals I really opened my eyes to the world of herbal medicine, and I have gotten so excited to try all kinds of things. Also on the slate for this term is Human Genetics and STIs. I am so enjoying my studies!

So, there ya go, a boring update on what I'm doing. ;-)

Come to the Table

So, here are some musings about faith and religion, very rough, very unformed, just what I am thinking about right now. And I should up front state that I have not darkened the doors of the Orthodox church in over a year. I have attended an Episcopal church a handful of times in the last year and a half.

I recently read a pretty great book, entitled Take This Bread. Sara Miles, the author, tells of her conversion from being an atheist to being a Christian, which took place in one very startling moment. She walked into St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco one Sunday on a whim while on a walk, and walked out changed. She walked in and was welcomed to the table, the table that Christ invites everyone to. Everyone who belongs to his family, which is every human being on this planet. And she, who was an atheist until the moment of communion, took that body and blood of Christ and thereby became a Christian. She started attending and getting involved by starting a soup kitchen, fighting those staid Christians who came to church to feel secure and shook them right out of their comfy places, even before she was baptized.

Sara makes the point that Jesus invites ALL to the table. Jesus did not say that if you have been baptized in the right church and you've prayed and fasted in a particular prescribed way, then you may come to the table. He says, come to the table, share, eat. Be part of this family.

When I read this, it felt so, so true. And suddenly all my justifications for why we have the practice of closed communion in the Orthodox church totally fell away. Jesus does not call us to be the church of exclusivity, but to welcome all. I've fought a language fight, because I believe it to be totally non-evangelical (I mean this word in the most liberal sense possible) to invite people to church so that they can struggle with a foreign language. I do love the Orthodox church, and I don't think that will ever change, but I think it is so terribly misguided. There are churches that are attempting, even if it's a feeble attempt, to change, to be more inclusive of all God's children, and I don't see this attempt in very many dark little corners of Orthodoxy. And it makes me sad. Because I do love the Orthodox church.

After I read the book, the next time I attended the Episcopal church, I watched as communion was served. And I told myself: self, it's okay if you want to take communion. You have old beliefs that you should only take communion in the Orthodox church, but you can feel free to take communion here if you want. And as I watched, I just didn't have any desire to take communion. And I struggled. Why didn't I? All are welcome to come, here at this Episcopal church. No one is turned away. And it suddenly struck me that this is not a table. The phrase that Jesus invites us all to the table brings up an image in my head of a family, sitting together, sharing a meal together. And that is what I want for the family of God. I want us to be a family, sharing, being together, communing. And the way that both the Orthodox and the Episcopal churches give communion is still kind of individualistic. I realize that there are many different ways of worshiping, and many reasons for each way, but this way suddenly struck me as not a family meal, but as each person, one at a time, receiving and going away. I couldn't do it, not at that time, which does not mean it will never work for me. But that's where I was at that moment.

I had wanted to attend a Taize church at this particular parish ever since I began attending there, but always forgot when it was, was busy, etc. But that Sunday when I went, I found out that Taize was that night. So I put a priority on going. And found a wonderful worship place. It was different from other Taize services I'd gone to--it was attended by many more people than the one I used to attend at the Catholic Worker house. Small and intimate is nice, but this was a different kind of experience. It had musicians, which took me a bit to get used to. But I got used to it and loved it. One element that was not present at any I'd been at was a healing service. Where anyone who wanted to could come forward to receive prayers, either for stated requests or silent, for healing. And then an anointing with oil. Each participant was received by a pair of people who laid hands on the person and then prayed for them and administered the oil. I knew when I heard that this would also be a healing service that I would want to participate in it. And my thoughts couldn't help but go back to the first healing service I attended at an Orthodox church.

I had begun attending at an Orthodox church starting at the beginning of Lent, and was in the learning phase of my conversion, and indeed was still not absolutely certain that I would become Orthodox (though already was pretty close to that decision). During Holy Week, the Orthodox church has a healing service on Holy Wednesday (not a very old tradition, but still a nice one....who said all of our traditions have to be ancient?). I was eager to attend, because I'd been experiencing a severe depression for quite a few months....probably about a year. I knew that the healing oil was not magic, but I still desired to be anointed because it was a spiritual acknowledgment of my unwholeness and faith in becoming whole, in a life-long journey of faith. I knew I would not walk away from the healing oil not depressed anymore, but somehow it felt like it would be a connection, with God and with my fellow human beings on this journey as well.

When I got to the church for the service, and sat down and opened the service book, I almost immediately began crying. Stated in a very obvious and overt way, printed right there in the service book, was the fact that in the Orthodox church the healing oil is reserved for only members of the Orthodox church. Only those who have been baptized in the Orthodox church or have been chrismated and received in can receive the holy oil. I was so upset I had to leave. I could not remain there while others were anointed, while I could not be because I had not yet been received into the church.

In the Taize service I did come forward and receive prayers and anointing with oil. I was invited into the family. I didn't have to jump through any hoops or prove myself. Because God loves me just how I am and I don't have to have any brand loyalty to receive God's love or to be part of that family.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Are We?

On Friday, I attended a discussion led by Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the founder of the School of the Americas Watch. This organization, year after year, calls for the shutting down of the school here on American soil that trains assassins and terrorists. But on Friday, he was not talking about the senseless violence of war and physical killing, but of the senseless injustice done to women in the Catholic church. He has been involved with the Womanpriest movement, which has ordained women as Catholic priests and has enough female bishops to keep the movement going, continuing apostolic succession. His mantra that began to play inside his head, and that he turned outward as his conscience would not let him be silent about this issue, was: "Who are we, as men, to say to women 'our call is valid but yours is not'?" He has been outspoken about it and has even put his own vocation on the line, ultimately finding himself with a letter threatening excommunication if he did not recant within 30 days. He chose to follow his conscience, and has not had any response to his letter to the Vatican explaining his position, two years ago.

We spoke with one of the Womanpriests after the talk, who responded to the question "how can you be in solidarity with those who are still in the church, when you are excommunicated?". She calmly said that she does not consider herself to be excommunicated because you cannot kick out family, and she is part of the Catholic family. You can get mad, you can have happy times and not so happy times, and you can have conflict. But family is family, and you can't change that.

That same day as I went to the talk, I read a blog post from an Orthodox priest. He spoke lovingly of bringing his little 18 month old son into the altar with him for a weekday liturgy during Bright Week (the week following Easter). He joyfully recounted all the things his son did and noticed and how he helped out, and was less distracting than some altar boys who are "old enough" for the job. I read of this account with wonder, because I had never heard of a priest bringing their baby into the altar, except for a baby being churched. And I had to wonder: if this baby had been a little girl rather than a boy, would he have brought her into the altar? This priest was needed in two different capacities: as priest, helping to serve the liturgy and as father to his own baby. And he was able to function in both capacities very well.

I have experienced injustice in a very small way. When I used to chant in church, all the chanters would gather in the sacristy (the little room beside the altar) and go over the order of services and the music. And then we'd all head out to the chanter's stand. Except that we took two different routes: the men through the altar (the most direct way) and the women around the long way. A friend of mine recently told me of her experience: the route that the women take was blocked because it goes through the room where the priest hears confession. So, it was either take the route through the altar, only about seven steps, or take the route clear behind the altar, through the long hall outside the church, in the side door, and across the front of the church to the chanter's stand. She spoke of the extreme frustration of not being allowed to go the obviously easier way because of the uproar it would cause, to see a woman coming out of the altar! And yet, I have to wonder, why? Why is the act of being a woman in God's altar scandalous?

I stand with Fr. Roy, and ask of the Orthodox church as well: who are we to decide who is called and who is not? And hoping that the family will be reunited.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Who I Am

I've been kicking around these ideas in my head for awhile and hoping that I can write something that is coherent enough for others to read. It has to do with my evolution as a person through all the stuff that's happened to me and the choices I've made in the last couple of years.

When things were getting intense between Paul and me, I began a journal. On the opening page of that journal I began with a description of who I am. I described myself: wife, mother, and then a list of what I like to do. I think I was already uncomfortable with that typing of myself but didn't know how to change it yet. A few journal entries later I re-described myself: just me, who I am. Because my roles do not define me. Who I am married to, what children I have, those are wonderful relationships that enhance my life, but they are not me. They are relationships.

I remembered a time when I was in a gathering of women about 7-8 years ago, and I introduced myself as as the wife of a priest. I spoke with another woman for quite some time before she told me her husband is a pastor. I expressed surprise that I did not know this, and she said something to the effect that it isn't the first thing she tells people, because it doesn't define her.

I guess what I'm saying here is that I got too caught up in defining myself through my roles--wife and mother--and forgot about developing my own self. And two years ago I decided to begin developing my own self.

I've tried to figure out how I could have done this differently, but I have to say I honestly enjoyed being stay-at-home mommy when my children were young. I cannot imagine putting them in day care when they were babies. I enjoyed homeschooling them, but I think I probably could have begun to explore my passion when they were school-aged. Slowly though. By the time I was good and ready and was really restless to find something else to occupy my time, they were also done with homeschooling. I always thought that homeschooling could work for us all the way through high school, but it just didn't. It worked great for the first bit and then it was time to move on. I am so grateful for the foundation it gave my kids; I'm glad that Carissa was able to be herself (and later when she would identify as transgender she/he was able to do that with hopefully a minimum of self-doubt). I am glad that Zachary, my "late" reader, was able to learn at his own pace and not face criticism from anyone but himself.

When I divorced, obviously I was separating myself from the role of being a priest's wife--I was no one's wife, and began re-defining myself as an independent woman. But I also found myself pulling away from my children to some extent. I am pretty sure this hurt them, but I did feel it necessary in my own evolution as a person, to find out who I, Elizabeth, was, not just who I am as a mother. I needed to tend to my needs for awhile. Is this selfish? Probably. But it was a selfish I really needed. I needed to extricate myself from what I was expected to do in order to find out what I expected of myself.

Now I find myself reconnecting with my kids. And wishing I had more time in which to do that. But life is good as it is, and the time we have is really good. And it's real--I am establishing myself as an independent woman in relationship, not as provider and facilitator for other people to find their passions, but as a co-passion-finder. And that is an excellent journey to take with people I love.