Saturday, June 24, 2006

One year anniversary!

I missed my blog's one year anniversary! I thought I was going to commemorate it, but I just looked and found it was on June 22. That was Thursday, so only two days....still, dear blog, I suppose that means I have to bring you flowers and wine and dine you? I really will have to make it up to you. ;-)

This is the 215th post on this blog! That's quite a bit of writing in a year for me. I don't really consider myself a writer, but I really like how much I've written on this blog, because it helps me to express myself and helps me to put things in focus. If someone else enjoys it too, that's just icing on the cake! Mmm,, can't bake, too hot. So much for focus! I'm really wandering here....

A Prairie Home Companion

We saw the movie yesterday. Before we went, I could not conceive of what this movie was really going to be. We've enjoyed the radio program for years--about 6, I think. What it turned out to be was the story that unfolds while a radio show is being performed--both the onstage stuff and offstage.

I remember when it was really clinched for me that I really liked this radio program: just after the 2002 congressional elections, where the Republicans took over. I had never heard such self-deprecating humor as I did while listening to the show immediately following. Garrison Keillor just made fun of himself as a liberal and of the democratic party. As a recent convert from the Republican party, and of the conservative talk show loop, I thought, gee! The conservative radio shows don't have anything like this. They don't poke fun at themselves when they lose. They get vitriolic and talk about how the morals of the country are going downhill, evidenced by this (theoretical) election. But here was something feel-good to pull us through this hard time, and more than that, an optimism about where our country was going--this was merely a glitch, or a misunderstanding.

Anyway, I really liked the movie. I especially couldn't figure out the role of Meryl Streep. I see her as the actress' actress. She's very sophisticated, in my mind, and I couldn't see her in this kind of hokey role. But she is not only sophisticated, she's really good. I highly admire Meryl Streep and want to see her other summer movie, The Devil Wears Prada. I think the role of evil bitch is perfect for her!

Back to the movie at hand....I suppose in the end, the movie was about how the more things change, the more they stay the same; we're all going to die of something so enjoy life while you can; people don't change....but you can change your experience of them. I liked the overall message of it.

And it was fun seeing it in a theater full of Prairie Home Companion devotees!

Ah--one more note--the Bad Jokes section was wickedly funny. But if you take your kids be prepared to answer some questions....though when I said "do you really want to know?" the answer was "maybe not."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More sewing

It didn't take me TOO long to get back to sewing! Actually, I've had to carve out time--between being SO busy and feeling like sitting down and sewing myself something was too much of a luxury. But here's my new pair of pants, done in one day! Yippee!

This cloth is really nice--it's 100% cotton, and it really shrinks down to make a very nice woven, thick cloth. It can be dyed, too! I've already got the dye--we use fabric dye for tie-dyeing. It only came in one color to encourage people to dye it to any wonderful color. For right now I'm going to leave it the nice creamy color it is now.

I used the same pattern as the one I made Hibee's pants with. Great to be able to use the expensive pattern again.

Next up is a nice summer shirt to go with it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


We went to the farmer's market this morning and bought two pounds of cherries, in addition to golden raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Still, my children just went on a walk (telling me first!) and returned with stolen cherries. I suppose the forbidden fruit tastes better....they remind me that they are pirates, so they have to plunder. Ah.

I do have to say that it sure looks like a lot of cherries around here are going to rot and fall off the trees, because they are at *peak* ripeness and just sitting there. Sigh.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Scattered Thoughts on the Environment and Civilization

The kids and I went to see "An Inconvenient Truth" a week and a half ago, when it opened in Portland. I was amazed, first of all, that this movie-cized lecture held my kids' attention, and they really liked it. On one hand, we all really liked the movie and felt it brought out many very good points. But when it finished, especially while the credits were rolling and they had suggestions for how to reduce carbon dioxide in the environment like "ride your bike", I just felt like this thing didn't go nearly far enough. I suppose that for getting the word out that, indeed, global warming is really happening, here's the proof, it was a good thing. It's being shown in mainstream theaters, rather than indies like I've been frequenting (and indeed, I felt dirtied by the awful advertising before the movie) in order to get out the word to the mainstream America.

But I have to wonder if it'll prove to do more harm than good.

Because I don't believe this is something we can "fix" and go about our lives as usual.

Ever since I read the book _Ishmael_, and then _My Ishmael_, both by Daniel Quinn, I've seen things in a whole different way. I have to say that these are the most influential books I've read in my life. Not the Bible, though perhaps since I've grown up always hearing the Bible it's just part of the fabric of my life. These are books that address the myth that we're taught from childhood about our culture and civilization. What myth? You'll have to read the books to find out, because I cannot explain it anywhere near as well as Daniel Quinn.

I find myself at kind of a weird juncture in my thinking on the environment. I was just listening to NPR while kneading bread dough, and there was a story about an oyster farm in Alaska. They were talking about a bacteria normally only found far south of Alaska, so far south that the oyster farmers had never heard of it. But last year this bacteria was found to be the cause of lots of people getting sick, from eating oysters from Alaska that were tainted with it. How did the bacteria get into the oysters from Alaska? From the water warming--imperceptible unless you're measuring it and charting it. Global warming at work.

So, the weird juncture is the two different thought patterns in my head. One is the bent I have to try to help people so that we all can live a better life. Get rid of poverty, level the playing field. The other thought pattern is to think, perhaps global warming is just the earth's way of purging itself, killing off a good portion of human population, so that it can heal itself and start off fresh. If the civilizations of the world were devastated, global warming would certainly taper off and begin to right itself. We wouldn't have the infrastructure anymore to continue living the way we do now, and we'd be forced to live more simply. More hand-to-mouth. Maybe that would be a good thing. But it sure would be painful, on a world-wide level.

I suppose where my two diverging thought patterns converge is the thought that we can either change how we live ourselves, or it will be done for us. It's up to us to choose.

I see more and more how environment and human rights issues are all connected. How we can't just fix one small thing, or it'll just go right back to how it was before. This calls for a complete overhaul on the way we look at the world and ourselves.

Ah, if I could just get everyone to read one book, it'd be _Ishmael_!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

17 years!

Yesterday, Paul and I celebrated 17 years of marriage! We got married at ages 20 and 21, very young, and really can't say we have any regrets. We've changed a lot, grown a lot, and thank God we did all that together and didn't grow apart, but grew together, and love each other more every year, and in lots of different ways than when we were newlyweds. (Yeah, for an anniversary post I get to be mushy!)

For the first time in 12 years, since Hibi was born, we got an evening out, on our anniversary, without kids! A wonderful friend from the parish offered to take Hibi and Zac overnight, so that we could enjoy an evening together. We had a very enjoyable evening, and we went to a couple of really great places. We went out for dinner at Il Piatto, which I'd been to with the clergy wives of Portland, and it was wonderful Italian food. I'd highly recommend it, maybe not for an everyday kind of place because it's a bit pricey, but for special occasions like celebrating 17 years of marriage. :-)

Then we went to The Blue Monk, which is a jazz bar in SouthEast Portland. That was really fun! A band called 3 Leg Torso was playing, and they were a lot of fun. And wonderful musicians. I really like seeing musicians who play an instrument in a whole different way from the way that's traditionally taught. The lead instrument was a violin, and the violinist played in harmonics--I'd never seen a whole melody done in harmonics. It was violin, string bass, accordian, xylophone and assorted percussion. Oh, and I've never seen a violinist jump around the stage like a rock star! The bassist also tried to move around, dancing around his bass at one point. They do a really eclectic blend of music--klezmer, Brazilian, tango, the works. But it all has the same upbeat tempo, so *maybe* one could say it kind of starts to sound the same....but it's all so interesting that I didn't mind. They really had a lot of energy and were incredibly talented.

I believe the band is local, and they are playing several times in Portland and the vicinity during the summer, so check out their website. Some venues are even free, like Portland Farmer's Market. They're also going to be in San Francisco and other bay area venues, so if you live there, check them out!

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Calling all pirates! The hunt begins! Volvo's new contest, in promotion of the new Pirate's of the Caribbean movie, is one of those wacky, world-wide treasure hunts. (Paul is a self-admitted sucker for these things!) You can win a Volvo, which is buried somewhere in the world, along with flight to wherever it is. All you have to do is figure out how to read the map, and be the first one to do so.

Find the details here:

The rest of my family is heading, as I type, to the nearest Volvo dealer to get their pirate code. May the best pirate win!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Great local Portland stuff

They've got us hooked now. We went to the Wednesday Portland Farmer's Market today, as we have for several weeks now, but we were about an hour later than usual. And Pearl Bakery only had three chocolate panini left! What's more is that the Hot Lips booth wasn't even there. Maybe they'd already sold out of their scrumptious soda that they brew locally, from fresh local fruit.

So, what else could we do? We stopped by the actual brick-and-mortar Pearl Bakery on the way home to buy another chocolate panini--because if we only had three tomorrow morning there would be hell to pay. We didn't go so far as to stop by Hot Lips Pizza to buy sodas, but then we did just go out to pizza there last Friday night....Good pizza, by the way! Paul and I had one half-and-half, one side was a squash pizza, the other was fresh tomatoes and nuts. Other stuff too--I should have blogged about it then so I could remember. But it was delish. I think I enjoyed that pizza better than any I've had here in Portland. They have blackberry and raspberry soda and their newest, strawberry.

Quote for the Day

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.

--Mother Theresa

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Neat Freak

That I'm not. We've lived in this house for six months now. Last night, for the very first time, I swept and mopped the downstairs bathroom, the one in the basement that's used almost exclusively by the parents. I'd used a towel destined for the washing machine to wipe up in there before, and I'd given it a quick sweep with the vacuum while doing my bedroom floor, but the bathroom floor had never seen the broom or the mop. Actually, it wasn't too bad, considering. This morning Paul cleaned the shower walls really well, and I did some more work on the glass and the floor, so now our bathroom is the cleanest it's been since we moved in.

Thank goodness that's done! Now I don't have to worry about it for another six months. ;-)

Don't anyone suggest flylady! I'm not a flylady kind of girl. My mother in law likes flylady. One time we were emailing and she said "I have to go--I have a house blessing." Now, my curiosity was piqued. I said, you have houseblessings? In the Orthodox church we do houseblessings, usually after Epiphany--Christ's baptism, where the priest comes and blesses the house with holy water. She says, oh, a house blessing is where you go through the house picking stuff up and putting it away. Oh! Well, there's an alternative definition of a house blessing!

Wednesday, June 7, 2006


Wa-ell, we had quite a day yesterday! Tuesdays have been very busy for us, in a good kind of way. Hibi has been taking an art class in the morning that's close to our house, within walking distance, and walk she did yesterday, when I had a vacation church school meeting to attend at the church and couldn't pick her up. She walked it just fine, even though she was offered a ride by one of the moms--she likes to walk sometimes just because she's such an independent kid. So, we did all that, and my meeting was over at about noon. Zac and I went home, then we all ate lunch and headed out to homeschool park day, where Hibi met some other girls around her age! They all had a great time, after they all got over their mopey "oh, do I have to meet someone new" thing. That ended when I said to the other girls that Hibi was wanting to play some games. What kind of games? Oh, she was wanting to play Mafia. Mafia! the twins said in unison with perked-up eyes. We like Mafia! Now, I'll have to leave explaining the game of Mafia to Hibi, but my introduction to it was one day at park day in San Francisco, we moms realized suddenly that ALL the kids, from very young to the oldest, were all sitting in a circle and they'd been sitting like that for a long time already. Very unusual. Turns out they were playing Mafia. Apparently it's a game that can capture the imaginations of all ages of kids.

So, they had a fun afternoon and then we stopped by the grocery store to get some things Hibi wanted to make stuffed mushrooms that night. She and I made dinner, and we ate it early. I had choir practice to get to, and I headed out the door at 6:30. I wanted to check with the kids first and make sure they knew they had to do their chores before I got home. But the kids weren't outside where I'd last heard them playing. Came back in and they weren't there either. Called for them all around the backyard, down the street, in the basement, in their rooms. Paul got in the car and drove around the block, where they like to walk, and then generally in the neighborhood. When he came back without them we called the police. We asked neighbors if they'd seen them and they hadn't. The police got there and got a description of them and our cell phone numbers, then headed out looking. I stayed at the house while Paul went out driving as well. He walked through the park, nothing. The neighbors came over to keep me company while I was standing forlornly out there waiting for my kids to re-appear. That was the first time I met those neighbors, by the way....heck of a way to meet your neighbors. While talking with them, I realized that the neighbors up the street had been outside the whole time and if anything had happened out of the ordinary, they surely would have seen it, so that made me feel a bit better. Then a woman who was visiting family up the street, whom I'd asked if she'd seen the kids, came over and told me that she'd asked her daughter and her husband, and they'd seen kids matching our description walking that way and they seemed to be looking for a tree to climb. Well, that sounded like our kids! I called Paul and gave him this tip--they'd already told the policeman who'd stopped to talk with them. That jogged Paul's memory that the kids had been talking about going on a "cherry expedition"--to find cherry trees to raid. Soon after that, just as the neighbors had suggested I get out some pictures of the kids, the police came back and said "we've got them!" Poor Zac was crying--he was so scared by being picked up by the police. Hibi said she had to think about whether she was going to get into the car--what if it was someone just *pretending* to be a policeman? We asked why they didn't tell us where they were going, and they said they did! When? We told Dad while he was setting the table. Before dinner??? But you didn't leave until after dinner.....Plus, they'd thought they were just going to go down the block and come back, but that tree didn't have accessible cherries on it so they continued walking. Anyway, I'm sure glad that the worst case scenario that was floating through my mind was not what happened, and I think they'll make sure to tell us where they're going from now on.

The kids say that the seat in the back of a police car is very hard. And I never made it to choir practice.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

what we did on Paul's day off

I'd been wanting to go to the Oregon Forestry Center for awhile....I heard about it a long time ago, and thought it sounded neat, but then I got worried about it. I even asked someone, which side is it on? Is it all pro-logging, hurray for using lots of wood, or is it on the side of the forest? I was assured, then, that it was fine, it was on the side of environmentalism, and all that. The MAX train goes straight there, and so yesterday we walked down to the station and took it straight to the forestry center. When we got off the elevator that took us from way down deep in the earth where the subway let us off, we were right in front of the forestry center. Great! We ate our lunch first and then went to explore. Paul had been skeptical from the get-go about what point of view it was going to be from....and he was right. Using lots of wood is good! See, primitive cultures use wood for their wood carvings and maracas and such. They use wood, we use wood. If we cut down on our use of wood, it'll be bad for the economy! Other building materials are not made in a sustainalble manner. How, I don't know--it didn't say. Now, I'm all for using materials that are good and solid and will last and last. I'd much rather have a wood something than a plastic something. But the rate we're cutting trees at is having a big impact on the earth--erosion, animal habitats, emissions not being absorbed, etc.

These exhibits were the more meaningful ones. Then there was the raft set up in front of a movie of a river going in the background, and you could get in the raft and an automatic camera takes your picture and you can buy it in the gift shop. Great. And then there's the lift. I had thought when I read about it that it was something similar, if not such a grand scale, as the tram in Palm Desert that takes you from the desert floor to way up in the mountain in only 10 or 15 minutes. It's a whole other climate up there, and that's really interesting and educational to see two totally different environments in such a short period. But the lift at the forestry center is just a seat that lifts you from the floor to the top of the building. Dumb.

We didn't stay long, and were not happy that we'd spent our $24 there to get in. The rest of the day made up for the lousy beginning.

Went out for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant: Queen of Sheba. It made the top 100 restaurants in the Oregonian this year, so we had to try it. We love Ethiopian food--any vegetarian just has to try it. We'd only been to Mudai in Portland, so it was nice to expand. Paul and I thought maybe it was a little better than Mudai, and it had a bit more variety on the vegetarian sampler plate (which is what we always get, no matter which Ethiopian restaurant it is). Hibi thought it was too spicy. And Zac seemed to enjoy it a lot.

And then....we went to an English Country Dance! Woohoo! We used to go to the Contra Dance in Fresno when we lived at St. Nicholas Ranch. This was similar, but more stately and proper--you don't do the stomping and swinging that you do in contra dancing. It was fun! They do English dancing on Friday nights here, and contra on Saturday nights. We're usually not available on Saturday nights....though I suppose, since it doesn't start until 7:30, that we could go after vespers. We all had lots of fun and the kids want to go back next week. Zac and Hibi were the only kids there, though....maybe we could recruit some more.

And now morphing into a related topic...we so enjoyed the contra dancing in Fresno, not just for the dancing itself but because it was a meeting place for progressive minds to meet in a very conservative place. Fresno is not known for it's radical thought. It gets difficult for folks who are more progressive to live in such an environment, and so the progressive community has really banded together there. I belonged to an amazing group of women that was really a godsend to me then--it was an ecumenical group who met once a month to discuss topics of spirituality from a feminine perspective. We had speakers from our own pool of women, no one from the outside came and spoke to us, and never a man. I don't have anything against men, God knows I love my man and the men and boys in my life! but I think we women too often get preached to by the male perspective and it's so helpful and empowering to just be a group of women and hear a uniquely female perpective. This group was really wonderful, and I miss it terribly.


I've been wanting to blog about gardening. So here's what's growing at our house! First up, peas! This is my first time growing peas, and they're the kind that you eat the whole pod. I can't believe how quickly these pods were covering the whole plant. I'm going to pick them all soon and put them into another shepherd's pie.

Next, my speckled romaine. It's not growing terrifically quickly, but I'm about to thin and use the thinnings in a salad.

Tomatoes! I botched the starts that I began in I bought these three. There's one brandywine, one cherokee purple, and one early variety (can't remember exactly what it's called). The brandywine is just built for big ol''s got a really thick stalk and the blossoms are big and round and look like they'll support something really big.

I've got everything in pots because all of the front and back yards at the house we're renting are landscaped. I didn't want to mess anything up, plus this way I can pack up any overwintering plants and good amended soil when we buy a house.

Because space was at a premium, but I did want to plant watermelon, I planted it in a pot. My hope is that the vines can just be guided around the existing plants and the watermelon can be padded by the mulch. Has anyone ever grown watermelon this way? I'm hoping that the root system won't be compromised.

Same as the tomatoes with the summer squash and cucumbers....didn't take care of them and so these got planted late, about two weeks ago. These are squash, and the cukes look about the same.

Zac's strawberry plant that he bought at the farmer's market! He's so excited that there are little green strawberries on it. Hopefully in a week or two they'll be ready for him to eat.

Basil plants that I bought....and they don't seem to be growing like they should. I think I'll add some compost and see what happens. I also re-started some from seed...same story with that....but I have to say that I've only once had success with basil, even though it's my very favorite plant to have on hand. Buying it from the farmer's market is okay, but not nearly as good as bringing it directly from the garden to the kitchen for pesto.

Mint! An old faithful! Mint will grow wherever it's planted and lots of places it's not. Considered quite a nuisance by some! But I love it's fresh leaves in tea and sorbets.

And here's my meyer lemon tree that I bought way back in January, probably. In San Francisco, I had a huge meyer lemon tree in the back yard. If you've never tried meyer lemons....well, you should! They have kind of a rose essence and aren't as sour as regular lemons. I use them in all sorts of things, from lemonade (add some of that mint!) to lemon curd for pancakes to lemon bars.

Finally, here's my just-about-completed compost. I promise I won't show you the other side, still filled with rotting food and weeds. I've never had such good success with compost, and it's all due to the fact that I always was too lazy to build a two-sided compost bin. I can say I won't ever go back to only having one compartment. The problem with only one bin is that every time you add stuff to it, and we always have something to add, it has to start from scratch. This compost is great, though still a bit chunky. I have been using it, though. I'll soon pack it up in something...I'm thinking burlap bags...and turn the newer stuff in the second side and start it.

And related to gardening: I've been looking for a pair of gardening gloves. But to my dismay, all I've been able to find are gloves made in China or other places where the workers won't be paid a fair wage. Finally, someone at our local gardening shop said to me "that'd be a good business for you!" when talking about how no one makes them domestically (or in a fair-wage manner at all). I thought, eh. And then later, I thought, I bet I could figure out how to make them. And later I thought, that could certainly turn into a business. But for now I just need to make myself a pair. So first I need to find a pattern. Or develop one myself. I'll post it if I do get around to making a pair.

Hibi's blog

Or Hibee, or Hybee...

Anyway, check out her blog! She's posted her second post! And the reason for it was very yummy...