Friday, October 28, 2005


Paul told me last night that the movers will pack everything for us. How decadent! And yesterday morning we talked about getting the housecleaner who does the metropolis house whom he has become friends with to come help us with cleaning. He said it'll cost us $100 for the day. That sounds well worth it to me!

The only thing that bothers me about movers packing us up is they waste so much paper and plastic. We had them do some when we moved from Boston to San Francisco, and we'd find a box with scads of paper and one little thing in it. And it's all new paper, not re-used newspaper like I use when I'm packing. Aside from being so wasteful, I also have to deal with what to do with all that waste! I think I'll do some packing myself. But it's nice to know I can stop whenever I want. :-)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My laugh for the night

I'm still laughing as I write!

Zachary wanted to look at the coins I've collected from my travels today. Our old boxes of memorabilia are stored up in his closet, high on a shelf. I got some of the coins out of one of them, but he wanted *all* of them so somehow he got the whole box down. (Now I have to put it back up....) Just now, Paul was putting Zac to bed. (We had Bible study tonight, which we've all been going to sometimes, so he's going to bed late.) I could hear Paul and Zac coming back out into the living room, with Zac doing this mock protesting all the way. When they got out, Paul said, "well, he still fits!" I looked, and Paul had dug my old baby sling out of the box and put it on, and then put Zac into it! He did fit! Not very well, but he fit.....

I've been tagged!

I was tagged by Mimi and I've put it off long enough! So, here are my answers....

Five things I plan to do before I die

1. Travel--more of Europe, and Egypt (I went there as a teen and have always meant to go back)
2. Become a midwife (well, maybe--I've been interested in birth lo these 11 1/2 years since Hibi was born, and have thought about it a lot)
3. At least dabble with learning a musical instrument again. I took lessons in piano, violin, and clarinet when I was a kid, but I didn't really appreciate it for what it was back then
4. Grow healthy, well-rounded children into adulthood and
5. Develop close relationships with my grandchildren.

Five things I can do

1. Sing
2. Cook great vegetarian food
3. Bake real, 100% whole wheat bread with no gluten added, that tastes great
4. Love my kids and my husband
5. Be a friend

Five things I cannot do

1. Knit--at least, not very well
2. Sports--I'm just not athletic
3. Keep my house immaculately clean for any length longer than 5 minutes.....or usually even get it that way!
4. Sew anything anyone wants to wear except for capes for my kids
5. Stand being in a mall any more often than once a year

Five things that attract me to the opposite sex

1. Intelligence
2. Sensitivity
3. Hair
4. Smile
5. Voice

Five things I say most often

1. Come on, Hibi
2. Come on, Zac
3. Hey, sweetie
4. How was your day?
5. Uh huh. (Listening to a recounting from one of the other members of my family)

Five celebrity Crushes

Hmm.....I may not do very well on this one.....but here goes:
1. Johnny Depp
2. Orlando Bloom (we watched Pirates of the Caribbean last night, can you tell? ;-)
3. I can't think of any more.

People I'm tagging.....let's see, Dawn was already tagged by Mimi, and I think Jennifer has already done it but if you haven't, you're tagged. :-) Hibi, my darling, you are also tagged. If you read this, that is. :-) Ah, I'll make this easy: if you read my blog, and you have a blog of your own, and you haven't done this yet, you're tagged. :-) (Easy on myself, that is!)

Friday, October 21, 2005

My Wonderful Kids!

My children astonished me yesterday!

They aren't usually the kind of kids who just *love* to help out around the house. (Are there any real kids like that?) But yesterday our dishwasher backed up--it wouldn't drain. After dinner I told the kids that since we don't have a working dishwasher, I really needed their help washing the dishes. I expected to have to nag and cajole, but instead they said "sure! That'll be fun!" We all went into the kitchen and they helped me until every last thing was cleaned up! Then Zac continued in the "being helpful" vein--after I put him to bed, he came back out to help me fold laundry. (What was I going to do, say 'no, you can't help fold laundry, you have to go to bed'?) After we were done with the laundery, he worked at straightening up my room! He made our bed (we don't usually make beds around here) and when Paul and I went to bed, we found sweet notes on our pillows, one marked DAD and one marked MOM. They said "good nit dad (or mom) love zac". I just about melted! What great kids I have.

visitor paths

I have statcounter on my blog, and I can see where, in general, people are finding my blog. I laughed yesterday morning when I found that someone had done an MSN search on _san francisco throws her 3 kids in the lake_ (no quotes). (This was the first of many similar searches, it would turn out....) I wondered what in the world that was about! Then I opened the paper and I wasn't laughing anymore. In case you haven't heard yet, there was a young mom in Oakland who told her family that she was going to feed her children to the sharks, and then drove them to the bay and threw them in. Only one body has been found (as of whenever this morning's Chronicle was printed).

There were more details today. The family knew she was unfit to care for these kids. She had schizophrenia, and didn't always take her medication. They had called social services and begged them to evaluate her case. Social services told them she wasn't insane, and there was nothing they could do.

Now there are three kids dead, and one locked-up childless mother. What a way to deal with problems.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Dear Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and People Who Just Stumbled Across This Blog,

I have an announcement to make. It's a good announcement! Our family is being transferred to Portland, Oregon! Paul will be the senior priest of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. It's official now, and will be announced in the church this Sunday. The only hitch is that the date of December 1 is contingent on the successor to Paul's job here being able to be here by then.

We are all so excited! We visited Portland in June, which is how I began this blog, by posting our vacation pictures. We loved the city we already know a lot of wonderful people who live in Portland. We love San Francisco, but we've known it's not a permanent situation for us, and so if we must leave San Francisco, I am so glad it's for Portland.

I suppose my blog name will have to change to Portland Family or somesuch.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hibi's new, new hair!

Thought I'd post this for something for your visual stimulation, after all that reading! Hibi decided to try again with pink hair, and this time it came out PINK pink, or perhaps FUSCHIA fuschia, or something.

Ministry and More Changes and Growth

There's more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line
--Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine

Third and final installation in my Conversion Plus story

When we moved to San Francisco, we were worn from all the scandal in the church, but still optimistic and hopeful. Scandal--I already wrote about the Spyridon era (which ended, thankfully, soon after we moved to San Francisco) but there was also the Ben Lomond scandal. We had been visiting Ben Lomond since the days leading up to our conversion, and talking with Fr. David about church issues and lots of other stuff. We really enjoyed his company, along with Sergius Halvorson (before he went off to seminary and got married and got ordained....if anyone knows where Fr. Sergius Halvorsen is, let me know! We'd love to hear from him). But then scandal hit the Ben Lomond parish, and almost all of it's clergymen were defrocked. Fr. David avoided it initially, only to be defrocked later on. He made the painful (for us and I'm sure him, too) decision to return to the Catholic church in which he was raised, where he could continue his priestly ministry. He continues in Ukiah, with a small Ukrainian Catholic parish there.

With Paul working at the diocese, we saw more and more politics. We saw things that made us say "huh, I thought the church was for spirituality; what's all this stuff doing here?" But there was good there, too. Working at the diocese really gave Paul a great overview as to how the diocese works.

As for living in San Francisco. I found it to be a very exciting place, though I was still quite wary of it's lifestyle and politics. I had a laugh when visiting my parents' church in central California, and someone asked how we liked San Francisco. I suppose he was expecting us to bemoan all the debauchery, because he seemed genuinely surprised when I answered that we really loved living in San Francisco!

Early on, when we were driving on Market St. in the Castro, Hibi asked, "Mom, what are all those rainbow flags for?" She was five at the time. I was a bit hesitant to delve into the issues of homosexuality, but I have always wanted to be as honest as possible with my children, and Hibi has always been a very precocious child who makes you forget that she's still so young. So, I began explaining that they represented homosexuality and that's when two men or two women get married, instead of a man and a woman, and that God doesn't want anyone to do this and it's a sin. Paul muttered to me that he was having some questions about that, but I said "this is what we believe now." (She doesn't even remember that conversation now....)

We got involved in a homeschool group that I loved. There were all kinds of different homeschoolers: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, secular, those who were sympathetic to religion, those who hated religion. We all were more or less tolerant to each other's beliefs. I got to know one mom who had a daughter who was Hibi's age. I liked both of them a lot, and we both enjoyed their company. I don't remember when I met Melanie, but we joined in September of 1999, and I'm sure I met her sometime soon after that. It wasn't until I was sending out invitations to Hibi's birthday party in March, when I was looking at the group's roster to write out addresses, that I saw that there was a woman's name along with Melanie's name listed as the parents. Hmm??? Melanie brought her daughter to Hibi's party, and my mother was also there. My mom told me later that the little girl had come to her and said, out of the blue, "I don't have a daddy, but I have two mommies!"

So, that made me think. If Melanie was a lesbian, that meant that at least some lesbians were normal people, not freaks as I had thought of homosexuals who were out of the closet, parading their sexuality. Melanie was a wonderful mom. Did she have any less right than me to mother a child? Did she have any less right to be treated as a normal human being than I did? Did she have any less right than I do to live in the companionship of the partner of her choice? Melanie was just another mom, with a great kid and a long-term partner with whom she was sharing life and parenthood. I did a lot of thinking in the months to come. I ultimately decided that what I was taught about homosexuals just seeking more and different kinds of pleasure had to be bogus. Why would they choose this lifestyle where they were ostrasized and treated as freaks? Paul had done some study into the issue of homosexuality, from the church fathers' point of view, and found, to his surprise, that when they addressed the issue they were talking about something totally different than what we call "homosexuality." They were talking about married men who were at an intellectual level far above their wives, because women didn't study back then--they were for cooking and having babies. These men wanted a connection with someone of their own status in life, and therefore took male lovers. This is a lot different from a couple of men or a couple of women sharing life together.

Another thing we were beginning to focus on in San Francisco was the homeless problem. There are a lot of homeless people in San Francisco. We were still pretty clueless about what to do about it. But when it started bothering our children, we knew we couldn't just give them pat answers and try to quell their concern. Their concern was legitimate. It was just something that we started thinking about, for the most part. Paul did organize a group from the church to volunteer a morning at the food bank, and I can remember trying to think of a way to volunteer somewhere along with my children. I had not the desire, nor the money, to leave them with someone else so that I could go volunteer by myself. But I couldn't figure anything out.

And then 9/11 happened. I experienced massive shock, just like everyone else. But what really shocked me, after I had some time to think about it, was the fact that my ideas of pacifism had really progressed, and a few days after 9/11 when people started talking about "getting them" I was even more shocked and horrified. How could we even think of bringing more violence to the world, after we'd just seen this carnage? Why would we want other people's children and mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters to have to experience this? It just made me sick, and even sicker to realize that I was in the minority on this. I spun into a deep depression over it. And if I'd hoped for comfort, or at least a different message, from the church, I was sorely disappointed. A week and a half later I walked out of church while the choir sang "God Bless America." It was NOT the message I needed right then--we're great, they're terrible, we're right, they're wrong. We have the right to kill as many or more of them than they did to us. Later, when I was trying to emerge from the gloom that had settled in and my disgust with the church's response, Paul reminded me of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. I gladly got in touch with Jim Forest and became a member of OPF. I was instrumental in getting him out to conduct a retreat at St. Nicholas Ranch, later, when we lived there.

I want to move back to the seminary days....I mentioned a correlation between the revelation on "wives submit to your husbands" and my response to 9/11. I hadn't even thought of the connection until I started writing this out, but I do think they are connected. Submission has to do with violence. It isn't physical violence, but not all violence is physical. I also wanted to bring into this the fact that when I first had a child, I thought that I'd bring her up in the same kind of discipline as my parents did--that is, using punishments, which included spankings if necessary. Thank God for Hibiscus! She totally thwarted that plan. She is a very strong little girl (not so little anymore!) and when she wanted to do something, my telling her not to was not going to stop her. I did spank her, but all it did was make her mad. It did nothing to make her do what I wanted her to do. I finally quit spanking her, just because it didn't work with her. After I stopped, and thought about it, I realized how barbaric it is to hit another human being because they won't do what you want. I'm sure that Hibi has some scars from my treatment of her (she does remember it, even though I quit when she was two) but I hope that it will also help her to see that even mommies make mistakes.

I mention this in correlation with my response to 9/11 because I think it is definitely related. When I stopped dealing with problems with my children in a violent way, I realized I had to look for other solutions. I think our society deals with problems in a violent way, because that's how we've all been dealt with and we can't see outside of the use of violence as a means to control behaviour. The submission thing, along with deciding to look for other solutions besides spanking, took me on a road to seeking out other solutions for bigger problems including global problems.

In October of 2001 Paul was ordained to the priesthood. At his ordination this time, Metropolitan Anthony announced to everyone that as a gift, he was going to take our whole family to Crete with him! I didn't believe I'd heard him right. But yes, he took us to Crete, only a little over a month later, and right after Paul was transferred to work as the director of St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Dunlap, CA--an hour east of Fresno. We moved on Dec. 1, and then went back to San Francisco on the 3rd and took off for Crete with Metropolitan Anthony and Bishop Anthimos. Wow, what a trip. I mean that in good ways and bad ways! I wouldn't have given up the experience, but it proved a bit difficult to travel with the Met. At the end, Paul told us we had to all go and thank him for the trip. I forced myself to say thank you, because it had been a very difficult time at the end. His response to me was "and thank you for all the aggravation!" Well, the same to you! Honestly, the man could be quite difficult, but I think he (sometimes) had a good heart. It was good of him to give us such an extravagant gift, and the chance to see Crete was wonderful.

We began our tenure at St. Nicholas Ranch on December 20, when we got back, and we began it with a non-functional water heater and oven/stove. And an hour out of town! I didn't get a new range until after Christmas. Thank goodness we could go over to the retreat center to take showers!

When people ask how our time was out at the retreat center, I answer truthfully that we really took advantage of our time out in the country. We had cats, chickens, and ducks. I had a large garden. The kids loved just taking off without even telling me they were leaving, and exploring and climbing hills. I did love it, for a time. But it was so isolated. I enjoyed seeing people who came for retreats, but almost no one came often enough to really see them with any regularity. Zachary didn't mind being isolated, but Hibi did. We had a homeschool group in Fresno, but she just couldn't ever meet any kids out in Dunlap. Seemed the only place to meet kids out there was school. I offered her the option of attending school in the Fall of 2004, just so she'd meet kids and have more structure to her day, and I think she would have done it. But, Met. Anthony decided to ask Paul to come back to the metropolis (same as the diocese, just with a different title now) as chancellor to help him wrap things up for his retirement. He was planning to retire in a year, and it would be only a year in San Francisco and then the Met would assign Paul to a parish (finally! after 6 years out of seminary, a parish assignment!) just before he retired. So, Hibi didn't go to school after all.

I jumped at the chance to move back to San Francisco. I still think there is no place quite like it! We moved back at the end of August of 2004. However, the neat little plans for the Met's retirement began to unravel in November, when he was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, a particularly aggressive cancer. And it hadn't been caught early enough. Very soon it became apparent that he was not going to live until his retirement. He died on Christmas day.

Now, none of this is what we bargained was a lot of work for Paul and a lot of stress to care for him while he was sick, try to keep the hordes out of his hospital room, deal with wrapping up everything that needed to be wrapped up before his death, and then plan his funeral, take charge over the metropolis in the interim until a new bishop was chosen, and then plan the enthronement of the new bishop and get him up to speed on how things work in this metropolis. I had a couple of people say to me "what a blessing for the Metropolitan to die on Christmas day!" and I think huh, if only you knew....Paul says he doesn't ever want to bury another bishop. There were so many protocol things that he had to learn, because neither he nor anyone else working with him had ever done this before.

And one more thing to deal with, but I'm glad he got his wish, was that permission was finally granted from Fresno county to bury him at the monastery at St. Nicholas Ranch. He had been interred at the Colma cemetary, pending permission, and his coffin was brought to the ranch and we had his funeral there on March 2, 2005, which would have been his 70th birthday.

Things have settle down around here since the new Metropolitan, Gerasimos has settled in. Paul even comes home on time most days! We continue to enjoy homeschooling, basking in the many choices for activities and classes in San Francisco. The kids and I are taking a clay class this semester, and both kids are in scouts--Hibi is in a Girl Scout troop just for homeschoolers, and Zac just started as a charter member of the Sun Scouts, a club for boys started by two dads in the homeschool group. We've pared down our activities to just those two things, because we are expecting to be transferred soon. Hopefully very soon I'll have an announcement up!

I'll back up to our days at St. Nicholas Ranch. I was still trying to think of some way that I could do volunteer work and help bring some change about in the world, and not figuring out what to do. And then Paul started a food distribution, through the Fresno Food Bank. He would go to Fresno and pick up the food, and then we'd sort it into bags of food for each family who came. People would come to the ranch and pick up their food. It was a good start, but somehow didn't feel satisfying to us. We didn't get a chance to talk with anyone--they didn't really want to talk, just wanted to take their food and go. Then we did a Thanksgiving dinner, and they came and sat and ate, and then we had a chance to talk. Soon after that, Poverello House in Fresno, a large homeless shelter, offered to make meals for us to serve. Then we had a meal every month for people to eat when they came to pick up their shares. Then the community building really began. We started to get to know people. Buck was the first--an old-before-his-time veteran of the Korean war. He'd been shot in the hip, and was still wounded. He was trying to get surgery, but not having any luck with the VA. Through a long process where he found out more than he ever wanted to know about bureaucracy, Paul helped him obtain surgery at the VA hospital. We met Tammy, who was a recovering alcoholic, who had had an abusive husband but was now with a good man. She was the only one to ever come to church from the community, and that same week she died and her children were sent back to live with the abusive ex-husband. We met Shonda, who lived on Buck's property. They all lived in tiny, dirty trailers. Shonda lived there with two of her children (she had three others, but they were in foster care). Her boyfriend was in jail, and if her story is right, I'm even more against the patriot act than before....she says he threatened to kill someone, just verbally, while drunk, and that they wanted to lock him up for good because he was a "terrorist threat."

I was very concerned for Shonda's kids, as they really seemed much too docile to me. They didn't move around very much at all, and I could just barely get the baby to engage in a small smile, but no other facial or bodily interaction. I got involved in Shonda's life, both to help her and to keep an eye on the kids. I drove Shonda into Fresno a couple of times so she could visit her boyfriend. I never did figure out what to do about the kids. Call CPS and have them taken away from her? I didn't think there was actual abuse going on, and I don't believe in taking kids away from parents just for being poor.

And then there was Rebecca, who just showed up at our door one day asking for help because she was trying to get away from her abusive boyfriend who had threatened to kill her. She wanted to park her car at our place, so he wouldn't know where she was. We did that, and hoped it wasn't stolen or anything.....Rebecca lived on Buck's property for a time, too, with the boyfriend. She went back to him, then came back to us.....I once picked her up between somewhere on the long road between the ranch and Fresno because he'd dragged her into Fresno and beaten her within an inch of her life, raped her, etc. and she was trying to *walk* back. We brought her to the ranch and she stayed there for a couple of days while we got a shelter bed lined up for her in a safe house. I don't think she ever made it there, though, and I don't remember what she did in the interim, but about a week later the sheriff showed up at our door asking if we knew where she was. We told him to the best of our knowledge she was in this shelter, and by the way did they know anything about this boyfriend whom they'd been looking for? Yeah, he's dead. Problem solved....he had been murdered, and we worried for awhile that Rebecca was a suspect (and that perhaps she had done it, out of self-defense) but it turned out they just wanted to talk to her and find out what she knew.

So, this is what happens when you open your life to others! You find out about a lot of stuff under the surface.

On our second day living back in San Francisco, we were walking to the Muni train, and Paul walked up to Sheri, who was sitting on the ground panhandling, and said "Hi, I'm Paul. What's your name?" and that got us started on opening up our lives and hearts and sharing our food and other resources with the homeless folks on our corner. I won't go into all our experiences here, since I've shared many of them already on my blog.

I suppose that brings us to the current. Where does all this take us? Well, I think I'm a lot more interested in the welfare of real people now, rather than ideals and dogma. We're a family that's interested in living in community with humanity, not just in our own social class. We are interested in global peace through working together and destroying power structures that only hinder relations. And now you know how we got here!

Thanks for reading....I know this has been very long. But I appreciated the opportunity to write all this out, because it's been very clarifying for me. I've seen connections much more clearly from this exercise. And if anyone else finds it interesting, that's just icing on the cake!

And as for growth and change....I hope I never stop growing and changing. I want to be a person who is always willing to consider new things and not grow stagnant and static.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Growth and Change

A continuation of yesterday's story.

How did seminary change us? I suppose I need to start with saying that we were both raised in pretty conservative, evangelical households (mine was much more rigid in it's approach than Paul's, and his was growing and changing itself during his childhood and after) and we were still very conservative when we joined the Orthodox church, in politics and theology. When we were studying the Orthodox church, we met Fr. David Anderson from the Ben Lomond church. In discussions with him, I remember the distinct feeling of "if I'm to be Orthodox, I can't be rigid in my ideas of interpreting the Bible literally all the time anymore." Fr. David is actually quite conservative, but he did something for us--he broadened our minds and started us on the road to asking hard questions of what we believed.

Seminary did more of the same. I didn't attend classes, but Paul would bring his more fascinating finds home and discuss them. One of those was the issue of "wives submit to your husbands" found in the teachings of St. Paul. We had taken this commandment quite seriously, including the follow-up of "husbands, love your wives." We had made a pact that when we couldn't agree on an issue, that I would submit to Paul's decision on the matter. In seminary, when we'd been married for about 7 years, he came home after a lecture given by his New Testament professor, where he talked about this command. He said yes, St. Paul did issue that command. But the much greater priority than submission to St. Paul in his writings is unity. That perhaps submission was better than disunity, but unity is the best of all. As we talked it over, we realized that we'd only invoked the submission thing a small handful of times in our marriage, and even then, Paul almost always, when I said it was his decision, would decide the matter in the way I'd wanted. This was a revelation to us, and we began to see that talking an issue over and agreeing, almost always, was possible.

Interesting the correlations I can see now, looking back.....

About this time I learned more about an organization called the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. I requested a free issue of their journal, and enjoyed reading it. I was still on the fence about war and pacifism, though, but I was just beginning to think about the issues. I was glad for that exposure later on, after 9/11 happened....I'll talk more about that later.

We saw more than our share of corruption of power and just plain old politics at seminary, too. Since we were closer to the center of the Orthodox world (in the US) we were affected a lot more than if we'd just been in a parish. Archbishop Iakavos retired and Archbishop Spyridon was selected to replace him. We had such high hopes for him---he was born in the US, English was his first language, etc. We thought this was a chance to further the progress of the church in the US. But as his time went on, he showed a completely different priority--to keep the Orthodox church in the dark ages. He said that women had no place even in church choirs. He came down hard on any parish that was not in compliance with him. He fired professors at the seminary who were teaching in the spirit of academic freedom, like Paul's New Testament teacher, after they investigated a case of sexual harassment on campus and recommended the student's expulsion. (The student continued and graduated that year.)

What was even more difficult than all the corruption going on in the hierarchy was the split it created in Paul's class at seminary. We had those who were for and those who were against. They no longer were united in anything. The next class was just deeply confused and disheartened, but we were warring against each other.

On other academic freedom fronts.....Paul listened to a lecture that asked the question that I'd never heard before: what if certain language in the Bible does not mean the same thing as what we mean by it now? How does that change our perception of what is sinful and what isn't? The lecturer was specifically referring to homosexuality. (Which in itself is not a word that appears in the Bible at all.) We still believed the way that we'd been taught growing up, that homosexuality was a perversion, and that it was the worst sin that there is. I filed this information away for another time: it didn't really relate to my life, anyway.

One concept that I really loved and resonated with that Paul brought home from seminary was John Zizoulas' concept that we, as individual human beings, only exist in relation to each other. I suppose this is a variation on the Buddhist idea that all of life is one, we are all connected. But I think it puts a bit more emphasis on the individual, without denying that we are connected. This concept really changed my outlook on relating to others.

Also in seminary, Zachary was born! We said for years that as far as we knew, he was the first baby to be born on the campus of Holy Cross seminary. :-) He was born at home, and we planned it that way! But recently someone told us that there was a baby born in the school cafeteria--they were trying to make it to the hospital and didn't make it. So, I guess Zac doesn't have the distinction after all of being the first. We didn't tell too many people that we were planning a homebirth, because we didn't want the news to get to those in charge and have them tell us we couldn't do it. But it went off without a hitch, and we became the talk of the campus. Zac's godmother told us that someone asked her in the bookstore, where she worked, "did you hear there was a baby born on campus? Oh my gosh, who would do that?" And she said, "yes, I was there!" That same night, however, was the night the sexual harassment occurred, so we weren't the talk of the campus for very long.

After Paul graduated from seminary in 1999, he was assigned to be Metropolitan Anthony's deacon. He'd been ordained to the diaconate in December of 1998, by Met. Anthony. The Metropolitan (another title for bishop) was impressed by Paul's struggle to be allowed to be ordained by him, instead of by Archbishop Spyridon who was insisting on doing all ordinations himself. So impressed was Met. Anthony that he announced that day that Paul would be his deacon after graduating. And so, in June of 1999, we moved to San Francisco. It was a mystifying place to us at first, but we really grew to love it. San Francisco was the first place I really considered myself a city girl.

This story will be continued!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Dawn wrote me an email yesterday asking if I had posted our story about how we became Orthodox anywhere on my blog. I told her I haven't done that--it's been so long since we became Orthodox I don't hardly think about that anymore....I was looking at the calendar to figure out how long it had been, and realized that today is the 13th anniversary of us being Orthodox! So, I told her, perhaps in honor of our anniversary I would tell how we came to the church. And, why not, I'll add some biographical info as well.

I was raised Mennonite in a very conservative small farming town in central California. Paul was raised Baptist in Tucson and Prescott, Arizona. We met at college in the San Diego area--a conservative Baptist college. In fact, our college, Christian Heritage College, was founded by Tim LaHaye of the Left Behind series fame. (Or is it infamy?) We began dating only a couple of months after I started at CHC, and got married 1 1/2 years later. Yes, we were young! I was 20 and he was 21 when we married. Though that seems very young to me now I can't see doing it any differently. We were in love.....what else could we do?

Paul took on the responsibility of pastoring a small community church way out in the rural throws of San Diego County, just before we got married. The town was named Dulzura, and it indeed had a lot of back-country character. We met in a very dusty, spider-webby community center on Sundays. Paul and I once undertook cleaning the building out really well and found a bunch of black widow nests. He didn't get paid much--they were only paying him to "fill the pulpit" and be there on Sundays to conduct church service for an hour. But of course, Paul being who he is, he took the job much more seriously than that and did youth activities and other things that took us out there other than on Sundays. Friday night was the hang-out time at the local cafe, so we'd brave the cigarette-smoky little place to sit with folks from the church and hear the local lore. We really invested a lot of ourselves into this little church--sometimes with very little payback. We wanted more commitment from the people, and they wanted (for the most part) to come on Sundays and sing the hymns they'd sung throughout their lives.

We finished college. Paul had been planning to attend Dallas Theological Seminary, and we'd even visited. But he was working at the time for a gardener who was in the reserves. The Gulf War began while we were visiting the seminary, and Paul's boss needed someone to run his company if he was called to serve. He offered Paul a hefty bonus to stay for another year. As for me, I graduated from college with a liberal studies degree, intending to be an elementary school teacher. But California was under a severe budget crunch at the time and was hiring no new teachers. I went in another direction and never went back to teaching at a school.

Paul and I began to plan for parenthood and to open a home day care. This seems so phenominally ill-conceived to me now, but it didn't then. My mother had home day care all through my growing up years, and so I thought I'd be a natural at it. Besides, if I couldn't teach, I wanted to do something with children. But starting a business is hard work, and it never got very far off the ground.

Before any of this happened, though, a friend of ours from college, Kevin, who had co-pastored the church in Dulzura for awhile, called Paul up and said he needed to talk with him. Another pastor from the mega church he was pastoring at was looking at this church called the Orthodox Church. He talked it over with Paul. We hadn't ever heard of the Orthodox church. Paul told me about his conversation with Kevin, but I didn't think anything of it at the time. What I didn't know for months is that Paul began to do some study about the Orthodox church and continued (continues to this day). Months after, Paul broached the subject with me again. "I'd like to visit this church that Kevin was talking about" he said. Oh! Well, okay. Our first visit was during Lent. It was for a presanctified liturgy, and it was in an OCA church. That means it was very dark, there were lots of candles and incense, and we did a LOT of prostrations! It was all so foreign to me. I chalked it up to a cultural experience and thought that was that.

Until Paul said the next week he wanted to go back. He was still pastoring in Dulzura, so we couldn't go on Sundays. So, we went back for the next Wednesday's presanctified. That time I was just bored. Then Paul wanted to go back for the next week. That third week I was hooked. I began to fall in love with the beauty of worship that didn't exist in our evangelical protestant traditions. And I was soon to find out about the history of the church--that it went all the way back to Jesus.

We continued going to an Orthodox church, but not on Sundays. We found an Antiochian church that was closer to home for us, with a convert priest who could answer our questions very well, Fr. Paul O'Callaghan. He was raised Catholic and then went toward the Jesus Movement before converting to Orthodoxy, so he was very well equipped to answer our questions. Pascha (Easter) was our very first Sunday Divine Liturgy, and with the glory of Holy Week behind us, we were ready to convert!

It was in that Antiochian church that we became Orthodox on October 11, 1992. Paul quit pastoring the Dulzura church a couple of months before. People asked us whether we would bring our church into the Orthodox church, like the AEOM movement did. But these folks weren't ready for anything so exotic. They didn't need their faith shaken. We didn't even talk about it very much with them--it just wouldn't have served any good purpose. Or that's what we thought then. Perhaps we didn't trust them enough. There was one woman of great faith there who came for our chrismation, which is the conversion cermemony in the Orthodox church where the Holy Chrism (oil) is applied done with people who have already been baptized.

We started our home day care, Paul quit working in gardening to help at the home business, Hibiscus was born in 1994(we named her Carissa--she took the name Hibiscus three years ago), and we began thinking about Paul attending Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston. We quit the day care when Hibi was 6 months old (and I had to wonder, staying home with my baby, how in the world anyone dropped their 6 week old or 3 months old or 6 month old off at day care? I couldn't imagine ever leaving her). In 1995 we packed up and headed for Boston. It was a great four years--very, very hard, but good. Hard because of the poverty our family lived in, hard because of the big shake-up in the Greek Orthodox Church (which happened around the same time as the shake-up in the Antiochian church, over the Ben Lomond parish). Hard in a nice way that our core values were being challenged and put to the test, and some were being molded in a different direction from how we'd thought they would be.

Oh, yes, and we visited Kevin and his wife, Robin, in Memphis while we were moving out to Boston. They became Orthodox just in time to serve as godparents to Hibi. Kevin is now Fr. Kevin and he is the priest of an Antiochian parish in the East San Francisco Bay Area.

So, how did we become Greek Orthodox instead of Antiochian? Through a series of painful events, and a great little mission parish also in San Diego county. Fr. Paul O'Callaghan was transfered to Wichita, and in his wake we had a series of priests. Never again was the whole parish kept happy. Paul tells me that the parish is back together now, but it took many years and it fell apart for a long time. Just before Hibi's baptism was scheduled, Paul had a meeting with a bishop (he shall remain nameless here) to ask to attend seminary. It did not go well. The bishop asked lots of inappropriate questions and we left with a very bad taste in our mouths. Meanwhile, we couldn't get hold of our priest to talk about Hibi's baptism. We finally just threw our hands in the air and went to the great little mission parish, pastored by Fr. James Gavrilos, who welcomed us with open arms and gladly took us into the Greek church.

I'll stop here for now....but I will have more to say about our lives in the Orthodox church--the good, the bad, and the ugly. We've changed a lot since we became Orthodox, and telling about our conversion just isn't the whole story. So, I'll write more, maybe tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Dinner tonight

One catch-all dinner I make in order to use up lots of veggies from my CSA box is vegetable stew. You can use just about any vegetables, but I try to use at least one green vegetable and one red/orange/yellow vegetable, and potatoes are always good in stew. Tonight's was extra flavorful, and I thought I'd share the recipe here.

Chop coarsely one or two onions, and saute in 3 tablespoons of olive oil for about 4 minutes. Add three cloves of garlic, cut in three pieces each, and cook for another minute or two. Add 3/4 cup black lentils, 2 peeled and cubed sweet potatoes, 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed, and 2 or 3 cubed potatoes and stir, cooking, for about a minute. Add a quart of vegetable broth and enough water to cover everything. Add salt and pepper and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover. Simmer until everything is tender and beginning to fall apart. Add one bunch of chard, chopped coarsely and cook for a couple minutes more.

Stop here if you want a vegan stew, or substitute oil for butter.

Knead together 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons flour. Add in small bits to the simmering stew and stir until the stew is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve with your favorite cheese.

Zachary and the Banjo!

Zachary has been talking for a while about wanting to learn to play the banjo. So, yesterday Paul and Zac went to a music store and got him a nice (used) banjo! He already knows how to play "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" on it. Very, very slowly, but he can play it. And it sounds like how a banjo ought to sound! I think the banjo is a good first instrument because you can get pretty good sounds out of it right away. The strings are already tuned to a cord, unlike a guitar, and Paul says it's strung more loosely than a guitar, so it doesn't hurt the fingers as much. Unlike a violin, which I started playing when I was only a year older than Zac.....though I already had taken piano lessons, I'm sure that my first tones to come out of that violin weren't anything to write home about!

Speaking of guitar, Paul decided to really splurge and also bought himself a new guitar. I've been telling him for years that he could if he wanted to--even offered to get him one for his birthday. He loves his new guitar, and what's great is that they can both play together!

Paul just saw the "really splurge" that I'd written and wants to point out that he did trade in his old guitar, for $50. That was 1/4 the cost of the new one. (I guess he's still trying to justify his expenditure....I told him it was fine with me!)

This morning we did something different at church. Usually, partly because of the size of the church building (very small), the Sunday School meets during the Divine Liturgy and the kids only come into church when it's time for communion. This morning we had a youth liturgy in a part of the hall that can be closed off from the main part. It went really nicely, and the kids really felt connected. I could tell just from how they were acting in churhch that they really dug it! We got all of the kids involved in some way. The high schoolers served as alter servers (yes, even the girls! Yay!), the middle schoolers carried candles in the great entrance, and the younger kids held candles for the reading of the gospel. Paul engaged them in the sermon, asking for how they thought people felt in the gospel story (the boy who Jesus raised from the dead) and how we can make a difference in people's lives--from first seeing their pain, and then having compassion on them, like Jesus did. Even though we can't raise anyone from the dead, we can still have a tremendous impact on others if we're in tune to them. Even the smallest children could tell how a mother would feel if her only son died, and how she'd feel if he suddenly was raised back to life.

It was a wonderful morning, and we're hoping to do this about once a month.

Friday, October 7, 2005

Blog find

Lately I've really enjoyed reading the blog A Different Kind of Normal. It's written by a young mom of an adorable baby. But this family is from the US and lives currently in Iran, studying at a Muslim seminary. They are under the MCC, Mennonite Central Committee, which, having been raised Mennonite I was extremely interested in. Their purpose is to study Islam in order to deepen understanding between cultures and religious beliefs, with broader peace as the end goal. I've enjoyed Laurie's forays into the world of Islam and her finds in Persian literature.

I really need to figure out how to put the blog links on the sidebar again--I deleted them when I first started this blog, and now don't know how to get them back. When I do, then I can put all these links there. Wouldn't that be handy?

Pizza and a Movie night

Yum, yum. I have a new favorite flavor of pizza! In our CSA newsletter a couple of weeks ago, there was a feature about three guys who work for Eatwell (our CSA), having a "test kitchen" (good excuse to have fun in the kitchen and have something yummy to eat!). They made fig pizza! It seemed quite intriguing, and I knew I had to find out what fig pizza tasted like. So, tonight I made pizza on my baking stone, two kinds--fig and our perennial favorite, with fresh heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. I have to say I liked the fig even better than our old favorite! It had figs, walnuts and red onions sauteed in olive oil, and blue cheese (a wonderful blue called Crater Lake Blue from the Rogue Creamery, which we got on our trip to Ashland--I don't think I mentioned that we went to Ashland and saw Love's Labor's Lost when we went to Patrick's Point campout). Too bad it's almost the end of fig season!

We ate our pizza while we watched a movie. No light viewing--we saw a movie called The Weather Underground. It's about the anti-war group during the Vietnam era that bombed buildings that were connected to war operations. It started out with gruesome footage of butchered bodies and mangled people in Vietnam. I didn't think I was going to be able to stay in the room, but just about the time I was about to leave....the carnage stopped (on the screen) and went on with the response of the anti-war movement of the time. What was excruciatingly fascinating was the modern-day interviews with the people who were intensely involved in the movement, because some were not so sure that what they did was right, and yet saw and see no other alternative. When we really look at the violence wrought by our government in our names, and we can choose to do nothing and continue with our neat little lives, or to make a huge stink (which may or may not accomplish more than the latter), which are we to choose? I don't think there's an easy answer to this question. We were left with the question, as Paul said, what reason do we have to not do the same as they did? I don't have an answer.

Tomorrow I think we're going to see something a bit less heavy....the new Wallace and Gromit movie! In other news of the day, I met the aforementioned cyber acquaintance, and am pleased to report that now she's a real-live friend. :-) Hi, Alice! Enjoyed our lunch together! And in yet other news, Hibi sprained her ankle. Phew, what a day!

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Beautiful day

I know it's starting to get cold in many parts of the US, but it's a gorgeous time of year to live in San Francisco. On our side of San Francisco, it's cold and foggy all summer long. I've had to adjust my thinking--that's not our summer, it's our winter. Summer is this time of year! The fall is almost always beautiful, as well as spring. But in the fall we don't get rain, and the weather is usually lovely. It's beach weather! Unfortunately, having just gotten over fifth disease, we haven't been able to do much outside. But on Tuesday, I bit the bullet and finally bought a bike rack for our car (to haul bikes around) and the kids and I took the bikes to Golden Gate park and rode around. It was wonderful! It's hard to ride from our house, since our neighborhood is so hilly. Plus when we're riding on narrow streets with lots of cars whizzing by, it makes me very nervous, especially for the kids. But in Golden Gate park there are lots of bike paths that don't have cars. We're hoping to make this a semi-regular thing. We want to go to Crissy Field next and ride on the marina, over to the Maritime museum.

In other news, we are the new owners of a card game of The Great Dalmuti. I first played it at a homeschool gathering, and it's lots of fun. But you have to understand before you play it that this game is not fair. It's just like life! It's set up like a medieval caste system (but is probably just as applicable to our modern capitalist system...) and it's based on the premise that the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. It is loads of fun! I think we're going to host a gathering at some point and invite anyone over who'd like to play.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Ow, ow, ow....

I learned years ago, the hard way, to wear gloves when chopping up hot chiles. Hot chiles burn the hands worse than they burn the tongue, because the burn lingers for hours. Tonight I was making chile relleno (which the non-vegan contingent of our family *loves*) and I was sure to wear gloves while chopping up the jalepeno for the ranchero sauce. But I didn't wear gloves while working with the peppers to be stuffed. I usually buy Anaheim chiles for chile relleno, but this time the Anaheims were skinny and shriveled, not good for stuffing. So I think I got poblanos, which should have been fairly mild. As I was walking to the dinner table to eat, my hands were beginning to tingle, but I thought nothing of it. But when I took my first bite--oh my gosh, that's hot! Paul was eating his happily--he enjoys spicy, but after awhile, noting my discomfort both in my mouth and hands, he wondered if I'd gotten an especially hot one. He was glad when he got the last one, but he wasn't happy for long--another super hot one!

So, I'm typing alternating with putting my hand in ice water.

In other news....Hibi decided to wait until Zac was almost done with fifth disease and then get it herself. Yup, looks very likely that she has it now.

UPDATE: Hibi's rash has not progressed since Saturday night (It's mid-day Monday now) so it's either a very mild case, or she doesn't have it. Now, is she contagious? Hmm....ah, parenthood, one fun decision after another....