Sunday, April 30, 2006

On a homeschool e-list I'm on, someone asked about how we deal with racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Here's my response, which I thought I'd post here too:

On Friday I went to New Seasons. You know how there are always people out there with petitions to sign? Well, when I pulled up in the parking lot I thought someone had left their baby in a cart in front of the store. But it was a man in a wheelchair. Full grown. About....I don't think he would have even been 2 feet tall if he stood up. His head was a very significant part of his body weight--maybe even 50%. He was by the exit door and it took me the whole time I was in the store to come to grips with facing him and talking with him. I always want to look at the disabled as just regular people, as full human beings, and I'm usually successful. And in the end I was successful. I went out there and spoke with this man about the issues he was petitioning for and signed his petitions. When I got home I discussed it with my kids. They took a very "you tried, mom, and so you weren't bad" attitude.

I also talked with my family about an article in the newspaper a couple of months ago. It wasn't even a news item, but a feature story. It was about a white man who got jumped by a group of black people. It went out of it's way to get the message across: you should be afraid of these people. It talked about how the man is now afraid to walk home from work. Now, we just moved here from San Francisco in December, and that article would *never* have flown in the San Francisco newspaper. But in a way, I feel good that we live in a community where we can help to change attitudes. How's that for putting a positive spin on it? ;-)

I also recognize that racism (and all those other "isms" you mentioned) are a latent part of me. I was brought up with many of those attitudes--they were a part of the values of the small town I grew up in. Some things are buried so deeply that I'm sure I'll never dig them out. Others come to the surface every now and then and I deal with them one by one. One I dealt with a couple of years ago was the fear of walking past groups of people of another ethnicity from myself. I realized that I was taught to be afraid, in the small central California town I grew up in, of groups of Latinos. The less they'd integrated into white society, the more I should be afraid of them. I told myself to cut it out--after all, how many times have I been hurt by any of these groups? Exactly zero.

It is the fear that keeps us separated.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

International Workers Day

May day! Two years ago, we were in Paris, and came out of the Eiffel Tower to find a parade going on. It was May 1, which in lots of other countries is recognized as International Workers Day. In San Francisco, both of the worker-owned cooperative grocery stores close down for May 1.

I've been thinking about workers, capitalism, immigration rights, latinos (which is what we mean when we talk about problems of immigration--we don't worry about any other people group, I suppose), and human rights. We attended Amnesty International's national conference today, which was in downtown Portland, because we wanted to ally ourselves with a group that's recognizing the injustices being done in this world, and looking for solutions. Paul was at a workshop about the kidnap and killing of women and children in Juarez, Mexico, and some were talking about that "we know who is doing it--we just need to lock them up." Is that really the solution, though? Can we just divide the world up into bad guys and good guys?

Pretty close to the beginning of this blog I wrote about the epiphany I had while watching Roots. That it's not just the oppressed that suffers when there is oppression--the oppressors are also hurt. I don't know what the answers are to immigration, but I do know that we are all hurt by the treatment of Latinos in this country. People are not expendable. We don't come out ahead by treating people as if they are. We are all hurt when there are people who work for 2 dollars an hour and live with the fear of being deported at any time. It's when we don't see the connection between us and the rest of the world that we are all hurt by the disconnect. When we buy "cheap" at Walmart or anywhere else, we are hurting "them" and we are hurting "us." What is cheap? Cheap means someone else works hard and doesn't get their labor appreciated. We don't have the right to have our produce for such an inexpensive price, which costs immigrant workers so much.

I had heard some of the uprising of the latino community over the immigration bill that was put forth in congress at the time, making it illegal to even aid an undocumented immigrant. But when I heard the voices on the radio, the gatherings of the teenagers whose parents would be the ones affected by this, the teens who would pay the price for this, it did my heart good. Because we can try to do for them, we can try to make the world a just place for them, but we can only go so far with it. They need to rise up and take it for themselves. With my support (and others), but they need to do it themselves. Later, Zachary and I attended a rally in support of those who have been marginalized for so long. There will be a rally on Monday as well, which I may attend.

On Monday, May 1, many latino workers will walk off their jobs. This is in order to demand from Congress that their human rights be recognized. I happened to be looking at the website of the CSA we belonged to while in California's central valley, T and D Willey Farms, and found the following:

It appears likely that those who work on our farm will participate in a nationwide one-day work stoppage by all immigrants on Monday, May 1. If our employees withdraw from the economy this day, it will result in a one day delay in the delivery of ALL CSA BOXES for the week of May 1. We do not oppose this action and hope this inconvenience will encourage us all to demand Congress to regularize the status of immigrants upon whom we depend to feed us everyday.

Yay for the Willeys! This could mean economic setback for them, and yet they support it because it is right.

In Orthodoxy, we have the image that in every person we can see the icon of Christ, if we look hard enough. Each person is made in the image of God. Can we really look at the image of our God and treat God in such a disrespectful manner? Can we really steal the best farm land from Mexico and then tell them they are breaking our law to live here? Are we hurt in this equation too? And are we working for a solution, in the words of Jesus, to make the high places low, and the low places high? Are we working to make a just society for all?

No answers here, just lots and lots of unfocused questions.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Last Thursday

Very Cool! And what a coincidence!

Zac and I went out to run some errands this evening--buy John McCutcheon tickets (we figured we'd better make sure and have tickets after I just told everyone else not to miss him!), make a deposit, and return a DVD at Videorama on Alberta. But when I turned on Alberta, the whole street was alive! There were street musicians, art for display, jewelery, juggling, those tall, tall bikes that we usually see just sitting in one of the yards but tonight people were riding them and being clowns. I called Hibi and told her to come out and get in the car when I got there, and we all went back to Alberta! When I went into Videorama, our first stop, I asked "what's going on?" He said "Last Thursday of the month!" I said, "You do this every last Thursday of the month?" He clarified that they do it through the winter, but it's much smaller then. The first minute it gets warm, he said, it becomes a huge thing. And it was huge! We had to park some 3 or 4 blocks off Alberta. Just about the first vendor we saw before we walked into Videorama even was a table FULL of those same recycled journals I just blogged about before! And later, when we were looking more, the guy that makes them asked me to man the table while he ran across the street to use the bathroom. In return, he gave us a free journal! I felt bad about taking one just for helping for 5 minutes, but again, Hibi didn't. :-) She took one of an old Guinness Book of World Records. Cool!

I think the thing I enjoyed the most was a trio of latin musicians singing and playing their heart out....Zac was in awe that they could play the guitar that fast. They were really good.

If I could live in the Alberta Arts district, I would....I'd like to be able to walk there from our house on the last Thursdays of the month, and other times as's just such a cool place. I just love community places like this, places where neighbors can meet each other and have fun together.

Things that make you go.....hmmm

Paul was running out of room in his journal today so he remembered that I'd told him about a store called Mirador, a pretty cool general store with earth-friendly, people-friendly wares. I saw some "recycled journals" there--they take an old book, take off it's cover and use that as journal covers. Then they put in blank paper for you to write on, but they include a page every here and there of the original book.

So, Paul came home with one of these cool inventions. He liked the recycled book choice for a journal--the book was _Being Born_ (copyright 1936). Of course, that has all kinds of implications for the fertile mind's journal. But also, on one of the included pages from the original book, he found this:

3. How can animals do without a doctor if human beings can't?

Animals are more rugged. In their natural life in the fields and forests they build up endurance for all kinds of things--for the birth of their young among others. Soon after their babies are born, they are ready to go forth in search of food. Among primitive peoples, like many tribes in Africa and elsewhere, human mothers were and still are much the same. They work in the fields, come home and deliver their babies, and soon return tho their toil carrying their babies on their backs. Civilization has changed matters with its warmer houses, different eating and sleeping habits, slight amounts of exercise. Civilized people are less rugged, more sensitive. They need help. Even animals that have lived among people--house pets and others--are becoming like human beings in their needs for nursing and good care.

Unfortunately, that's where that quote gets cut off. Fascinating stuff! I'd have liked to read more about what great things civilization has done for us. ( case you don't know.....)

Arugula and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches

This dinner is three things: very easy to veganize, very easy period, and very, very flavorful! The only problem I have with it is that I try to use only fresh, local vegetables, and arugula and red peppers are not usually in season at the same time. (When they are, the arugula is spicy, as it spices up when it grows in heat.) How I remedy that: I use jarred roasted red peppers, which are delicious and make it even easier. If you aren't using jarred, roast one medium red pepper in a 400 degree oven until it's charred and blistered, then wrap in a towel to let it sweat for a bit. Peel the skin off and core and seed it before proceeding.

Here's how to make it:

Take about a cup of jarred roasted red peppers and put them in a mini food processor (or blender, or whatever you use for such tasks) along with a clove of garlic. Blend until it's pureed. With the motor running, add a tablespoon of olive oil through the feed hole and blend.

Slice 8 oz. (usually one container) of fresh mozzarella into slices. Wash 2 cups or so of fresh arugula and take off the thick stems. Slice one loaf of ciabatta bread in half, working the knife parallel with the cutting surface.

Spread the pepper spread on both cut sides of the ciabatta. Layer on the arugula and the fresh mozzarella (except on the portion that's for the vegan daughter--more for everyone else! ;-). Close the sandwich and slice into as many sandwiches as you have people to eat it--we eat the whole thing between the four of us. Enjoy! Don't mistake the simplicity of this sandwich--it is very good and we all really enjoy it!

John McCutcheon

Hey, if you live in or around Portland, don't miss John McCutcheon this Sunday afternoon. He's got such a beautiful, soothing voice and plays lots of different instruments, including one of my favorites, the hammer dulcimer. He's basically a singing peace activist. He's not angry, like our very favorite band Indigo Girls, but he definitely gets his point across. He's at the Hollywood Theatre on Sunday, April 30, at 3 pm. You can find the info at the Hollywood Theatre site. If you don't live in Portland, check out his website for the scoop on when he comes to your area. Seems that he does the same tour every year, so if you already missed it this year, you can plan on him probably being there at the same time next year.

Oh, and his site has free downloads! And one more thing: his music is defitely kid-friendly.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pascha Bread Picture

I forgot to take a picture of it when it was done, BEFORE we dug into it, but here's one of it half eaten. :-) I also made a couple of mini breads in little custard cups to give away, and they turned out really cute. Next year I'll make more, because of course as soon as I decided who I was going to give them away to I thought of a ton more people I wanted to give some to.

Paschal Doxastikon

It is the day of Resurrection
Let us be radiant in the festival!
Let us embrace one another.
Let us call brothers
Even those who hate us
And forgive all in the Resurrection.
And therefore, let us proclaim
that Christ is Risen from the Dead!
By death He has trampled death
And to those in the tombs
He has granted life!

A Joyous Bright Week to all!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pascha Bread

Here's my Pascha Bread recipe. Sorry, vegan friends, I don't know if there's any hope for this one. But one vegan friend said she'd try to veganize it. We'll see!

One year I tried to turn it whole wheat. Paul said it tasted like a hearty, whole wheat bread masquerading as a sweet, light, fluffy nothing bread. I went back to plain old white from then on. We usually eat whole wheat....we can do with white once a year or so!

And yes, I'm spelling Pascha two different ways, as it's a Greek word and not exactly transcribed into the English. And it's a shameless ploy for more keywords. :-)

Paska Bread (from the Lenten cookbook Food for Paradise, adapted for home use)

2 packages dry yeast (or 4 teaspoons)
¼ cup lukewarm water
1 cup melted butter
¾ cup milk
5 cups unbleached white flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
diluted egg

Dissolve yeast in water and set aside. Combine in a large bowl butter and milk. Sift together white flour, sugar, and salt. Add the yeast mixture to the cooled wet ingredients. Beat eggs and add alternately with the dry ingredients. Knead until smooth, adding flour as needed. Let rise until doubled in bulk; it rises quite quickly and high. Punch down, knead and put into prepared greased pans (use a big round pan, or a couple of smaller pans). Allow to rise until doubled in bulk. Decorate the tops with crosses made from rolled dough. Brush the tops with diluted egg. Bake in preheated 350 oven for about an hour. Remove from the pan while hot, running a knife around the edges if necessary. Gently tip loaves out onto towels and cool on racks. This traditionally is not frosted or baked with fruit.

Delicious slathered with the Pascha cheese I posted earlier!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I got an astonishing phone call this afternoon. It was from someone from the parish who is getting married in August, and she heard Hibi and me chanting and she wants us to chant for her wedding! I feel so honored! She even said she'd pay us if we wanted, or make a donation to the church. I didn't even know what to say to that, but I suppose since Hibi is definitely on the "pay us" side, I'll have to go for that. :-) I've never been paid for my chanting before! And what a great opportunity for both Hibi and me.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday in the Orthodox Church. We had a beautiful service this morning! As I was watching Zachary from the balcony (Hibi and I have joined the choir) serving as alter boy, carrying a palm frond, I was remembering and chuckling at a memory of him at age 4. We were in church on Palm Sunday, and we always brought something for him to do in church when he was young. That morning he had markers--I didn't usually like to bring markers because of the quick error factor--meaning just a quick swipe accidentally (or on purpose) could cause pretty big damage. But he had markers. He was sitting down coloring and I was standing up, so my back was to him. I heard a small gasp behind me, from the people sitting behind us. I looked back, and Zachary was sitting there coloring every square inch of his hand and forearm with a green marker. I said, "oh, Zac, what are you doing???" He said, "I'm a palm!"

On Palm Sunday in the Orthodox church, a small mitigation is allowed from our fasting. We are allowed to eat fish on this day (as well as Annunciation). As vegetarians, we have sometimes allowed ourselves to eat a bit of dairy on this day instead. Today we didn't but we didn't miss it. Here's what we had:

Artichoke Pasta

Pull off the outer leaves from four large artichokes. Trim the stems (but don't cut all the way off!) and the tops and submerge in cold water with lemon juice. When all are trimmed, steam in a steamer basket (I use a metal colander) in a big pot with a small amount of boiling water at the bottom. Steam until tender.

Cut artichokes in half and scoop out the choke. If you don't want any prickly and tough leaves, take them all off but the very most inward tender leaves. If you don't mind spitting out the inedibles and want to eat as much as possible fromt the artichoke, leave all but the toughest on. Slice the artichokes.

In a big saute pan, saute three cloves of sliced garlic and two diced carrots. Add the sliced artichokes and about 3/4 cup white wine, and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Cook while you bring a big pot of water to a boil.

Cook a package of fettucine. Add salt and pepper and more wine if needed. Toss with fettucine and serve.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Holy Week

Wow, are we all ever ready to be done with Lent! But first comes Holy Week. What an amazing week. If you've never been to an Orthdox service and are the least bit curious, I'd suggest you get yourself over for one or more services this week. Preferably at a church that has enough English that you'll understand what's going on! Today is the beginning of Holy Week--we celebrate Lazarus Saturday today. For four days we've been hearing in the hymnology of the church about how Lazarus has been lying in a tomb, dead. Today, we celebrated his rebirth. The hymn of celebration:
Oh Christ our God,
When you raised Lazarus from the dead before your passion,
You confirmed the universal resurrection.
And so, we like children,
Carry the symbols of victory,
And we cry to you, oh conqueror of death,
Hosanna in the Highest!
Blessed is he that comes in the name of Lord!

Tomorrow will be Palm Sunday (yes, I know everyone else is celebrating Easter tomorrow--a long story, but we have Easter next week) and the journey to Christ's death and resurrection begins. On Thursday night is the most heart-rendingly beautiful service ever--the passion of the Christ. We don't just talk about Jesus' death, we don't just sing about it, we don't just hear sermons about it. We live it. Paul's and my very first Holy Thursday service I remember us falling to our knees spontaneously, we were so struck by awe and beauty.

Then on Friday night the sweetly sad lamentations will be sung. Saturday morning we are already proclaiming that death is being shaken and life itself is rumbling back again! I love the Holy Saturday service becuase it is so full of joy. The priest goes around the church throwing bay leaves all around and we all sing What God is so great as our God? God alone is the God who works wonders. My children crawl all over the floor picking up the wonderfully scented bay leaves, sometimes with rose petals mixed in. We usually put some leaves into our holy week book and the next year, when we pull it out, we remember Holy Weeks past.

And then, there is the long wait. It seems so long to wait between Saturday morning service and the Resurrection service, which starts at 10:30 or 11, because we've been in church so often in the last week it seems we practically live there. But this afternoon is when I do my baking and cooking, getting ready for the biggest feast of the year. The Pascha (Easter) bread smells so good we never know how we're going to endure it until 2 am or so, when we can eat it! I always make a Pascha bread, and a Pascha cheese to go on it. Yesterday, someone found my blog from a search of pascha cheese, cream cheese, sour cream....sounds like they're looking for the recipe I use, so I'll post it! It's from the Lenten cookbook Food From Paradise. I'll post it as written, but it's written to make a bunch, like to feed a crowd, and I always halve it or make even less than half.

Cream Cheese Paskha

3 pounds softened cream cheese
1 pint sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pound softened butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar
golden raisins
slivered almonds

Cream the butter and add the cheese, continuing to cream them both. Add sugar and vanilla. Next stir in the sour cream and raisins and almonds in desired quantities (I never use the raisins or almonds). Spoon into bowls and decorate the top.

This will keep for about a week in the fridge....I think. Our supply usually peters out about 5 days after Pascha. It is delicious as a spread on Pascha bread or bagels.

So, the bread and the cheese and the candy and the pastitsio are it's time to rest....but we can't ever get to sleep. We will be up most of the night, but we're too keyed up to sleep. Way after the kids' bedtimes, they get dressed in their new clothes and we gather up our special Pascha candles. When we get to the church there is such a feeling of excitement! We begin the service of Orthros, which is, as Paul says, just wasting time until at midnight we can finally celebrate the Resurrection service! The church is darkened so there are no lights at all. It is quiet. Then, we hear the priest sing

Come, receive the Light, from the Light! That is never overtaken by night! And glorify Christ, who is Risen From the Dead!

He comes out of the altar with a lit candle and lights others' candles with it. Soon we are all holding lit candles, from the light of Pascha. Christ is Risen!

A good Holy Week to all Orthodox Christians, and a good Easter to those who celebrate tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

I just had to let you all know that my grandmother turned 101 today! Happy birthday! I won't wish her many more years because she's tired of living and wants to pass on to the hereafter. But I'll wish her a good journey.

I read in the paper today that it's Beverly Cleary's birthday, too, and she's 90 today.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Zac at the ocean

Zac at the ocean
Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.
Here are some photos of our trip to the ocean a few weeks ago. I didn't have time to post about it then, but I thought these pictures were too nice to not blog on.

Hibi at the ocean

Hibi at the ocean
Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.

Sea anemones

Sea anemones
Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.

colorful sea stars

colorful sea stars
Originally uploaded by sanfranfamily.

Pasta with Kale, Garbanzoes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Olives

This recipe came out of my own head, and I thought it was quite scrumptious.

Here's how I made it:

I started a big pot of water on to boil. I threw in a big handful of dry sun-dried tomatoes (not the kind packed in oil) to soften. Then I chopped a colander full of kale, oh, probably a bit over a quart. I chopped half a small jar of olives and sliced two cloves of garlic. I sliced a small portion of a big red onion (but I'll probably use more next time).

Then I heated a large saute pan and put olive oil in it--a generous amount. I cooked the onion in it, over low-ish heat until it was nice and brown and kind of caramelized. Then I added the garlic, cooked for a couple minutes, then added the kale. I remembered I had some frozen garbanzoes and added about a cup of them.

About this time I took the tomatoes out of the water and when the water came to a boil I added a 10 oz. bag of ribbon noodles. I chopped the tomatoes into slices.

When the kale was cooked down I put in the olives and the tomatoes and maybe 1/3 cup of red wine. Then salt (but not too much, because of the olives) and pepper.

When the noodles were done I drained them and added them to the vegetables. Here's the result!

My Funny Zachary

Where does this kid come from? I asked Paul yesterday. Sometimes I have to wonder where in the world he got his sense of humor, which is so very different from mine or Paul's.

He and I were preparing a present for him to take to a birthday party yesterday. I was wrapping the present, and he was making a card. I suggested that he draw a picture on the front. Okay, what should I draw? he asked himself. I know, I'll draw a gift. He drew a gift and I told him it was very nice. Then he said, "and inside the gift there are Angry Monkeys."

I couldn't stop laughing. He even drew the Angry Monkeys coming out of the gift--you knew they were monkeys because their arms spiraled up and down like those toy monkeys in the Barrel o' Monkeys (like the ones in Toy Story, which I think has to be the only place he's seen them).

He and Paul were going out the door to go to the party, and Zac asked Paul about the pinata they were to have at the party: Is this the kind of pinata where they blindfold everyone and give them sticks? Just imagine that scene for a minute.

While Zac was at the party, Paul went to visit the mother of a parishioner who was dying in hospice care. He got there just in time to say prayers for her, and then she passed away. When he came home he was telling me all about it, and telling me how nice the hospice environment was and how after she passed the staff came in and toasted her. "Toasted her?" Zac said with such incredulity that the meaning was changed from lifting a glass in her memory to something you do with bread. ICK!

Someone at church yesterday was telling me about her adopted granddaughter, and how you can tell she was adopted because she has traits that can't be attributed to her adopted parents. I was thinking, I could say the same of my kids, but I know they came out of my own body, I was there!

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Sleepy Children

These sleepy children went to a lock-in last night at the church. Yes, they stayed up all night. I'm told that Zac was among the last to go to sleep, at about 6 am, even though he was the youngest there. (The kids were supposed to be at least 11 to go, but Paul said there has to be some perks to being the priest's kid.) For some reason, they chose the couch to crash on when they got home. This picture was taken at 11 am.

Their equally sleepy father is downstairs sleeping. I stayed home and watched Elizabethtown and read an intriguing book called Singing Bird. It's an adoption story mystery.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Yard Work

Spring is so vigorous here in Portland! Maybe it's that we had cold and wet for so long, or maybe it's that the earth really is shaking itself back to life. But it's absolutely beautiful. Lots of growing things, including weeds in our yard.

We did yard work today, pulled lots of weeds and Paul bought a reel mower and used it. I was watching him and he said, "why don't you take a picture for your blog?" He's never said that I did. ;-)

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Last night's dinner

Well. You know how you like to have a really good dinner when someone comes over? Yeah. We had a parishioner over for dinner who works as a public health nurse with low-income teenagers in a school clinic. She had info to share with us for the poverty scene here in Portland. Which was wonderful. But the dinner was so forgettable--or at least I hope it was! I must have had the opposite of the Midas touch. The soup was overly greeny tasting and looked cloudy, and the homemade hummus was grainy. At least Hibi made vegan brownies that were WONDERFUL!

Though just as I was thinking this, Zac came over to me, after finishing his whole bowl of soup, and said "thanks, Mom, for making such a good dinner!" I said that I thought it was the worst dinner I've made all Lent. He said he didn't like all the other stuff I've made, but he liked this! Nothing like kids to keep you humble.