Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Peanut Butter Cookbook?

Often, when I'm looking at statcounter to see what info I can glean about who's been visiting my blog, the google searches are quite amusing. Today's was a good one: benny and joon cookbook. Of course, this person found my blog because I've mentioned Benny and Joon as my very favorite all-time movie, and I talk about cookbooks. I had to click on the search and find out if there was such a thing! Then I began wondering what foods would be in a cookbook like this. Peanut butter cereal smoothies? Tapioca without raisins? Spaghetti and salad...In that order? Maybe it could give housekeeping hints as well, compliments of Sam. Oh, and we can't forget Sam's clothes-iron grilled cheese sandwiches, or his tennis racket-mashed potatoes. :-)

Okay, thanks for my two minutes of amusement!

Monday, February 26, 2007

10 years ago

10 years ago today I was in labor from the time I woke early in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon. And then, out slithered a beautiful newborn! We named him Zachary Peter that day. The Peter was for his godfather, who is a Ukrainian Orthodox priest and was named the Ukrainian version of Peter. However, he's always gone by the English name of Patrick, so when Zac was a few days old we decided to change his middle name to Patrick as well.

Zachary was born at home on the seminary campus in Brookline, MA. We said for years that he was, as far as we knew, the only baby born on the campus of Holy Cross seminary. But recently we were told there was an emergency birth in the campus cafeteria, when a laboring mother couldn't get to the hospital through the snow! So, Zachary is the only one intentionally born on the campus of Holy Cross.

Zac received new rollerblades for his birthday, and this morning we went to the homeschool skate where he loved showing off his new skates! We're having a little party with a few of his friends later this afternoon. I'll post pictures later.

Happy Birthday, Zachary! I love you.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Boy, am I going to ache!

This is what we did today: we converted one side of our front yard into garden bed.

And these are two of our three "new girls"--Punky and Mama Bear. We now have six hens: the original two, Thelma and Louise, and we just voted on the name for the Barred Rock. We decided to go with Monica's suggestion: Fallujah, because she was attacked by a hawk. ;-) Paul wanted to name her Barack....for three reasons, one being that it's only two years until the election ;-), and then barred rock, Barack....and barack just sounds like what a chicken says.
The other new girl is black with red on her throat. Her name was Little Black when we got her, but I think we're going to vote to change it to Nigella, which Hibi says means "black."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Paris in the Cinepoem

LaDonna's done it again--made another beautiful cinepoem. If you've ever loved Paris, you'll love reminiscing as you watch Elasticine.

Ah, how I love Paris. We are all ready to go back--just give me two seconds to pack.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Birthday Art! and Christmas Art!

My commissioned artwork for my birthday is here! And it's beautiful! It's from Jennifer Kapnek, who just lives half a block from us.

And I thought I'd finally put up a picture of the photo I received for Christmas. The photo itself was taken at a march, just before the Iraq war started, in Portland. Police in riot gear, contrasted with a young girl with a Hello Kitty bag. Pretty interesting stuff. Paul and the kids put it in a frame that I've had for years, a gift from Paul's mom several years ago

that I never knew what to put in it. Now it's got something! Sorry for the glare--I'll have to try taking a better picture in daylight. When I didn't use the flash it was just dark.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Beginning of Lent

Tonight I asked the forgiveness of about 30 people. They also asked me for forgiveness, and each other. It was at one of my very favorite church services of the year: Forgiveness Vespers. The Catholic church has Ash Wednesday, where they remember Christ's death and their own. We have the call to become community. To "give up" selfishness and pride, and to sacrifice them for the call of being one in Christ. Living as one with the world. To overlook petty differences and act on the love that Jesus calls us to.

The service starts out in non-Lent. Everything is as normal times. Then the moment of Lent arrives. The chanters (and I was blessed to be among them tonight) sing "Do not turn your face away from your servant, for I am in trouble. Hear me speedily, hearken to my prayer, and deliver me." The altar cloths are changed to the purple of Lent, as are the priests' and deacons' vestments. The lights even darken somewhat. But Lent is not a somber time--not a time to mourn what we must "give up" but a time to bask in the simplicity of what is truly needed, what is truly good. Yes, we give up meat and cheese. But we enjoy that much more the simple foods of Lent. Dried fruit and nuts are staples in my family's diet during Lent. When you take the time to really enjoy these foods, really enjoy their chewy texture and their flavor, it is a form of meditation. We have many more church services during Lent than in any other time of the year. They are very beautiful and different from the regular services. They hold different meaning, a different "flavor" as well. We are encouraged to simplify our lives and to look inward to our hearts and outward to the community.

At the conclusion of the service of Vespers of Forgiveness, the priest first asks each person's forgiveness, and offers his own, and then we go on down the line--everyone forgives everyone. It's a practice that I wish we could do with the whole congregation, but forgiveness is not something you can force on people. Perhaps that's why we do not have this service on Sunday morning. You have the option of not attending if your heart is not ready to forgive or to seek forgiveness.

What are we forgiving? What have we done that is so awful? We've become a broken people. We do not commune fully. We have allowed small differences to make the difference in our relationships. Such is the human experience. But tonight we made a small step toward wholeness.

Tomorrow, rather than the Retreat of Silence that we had last year on the first day of Lent, we will have the service of Holy Unction, the annointing of oil for the healing of our souls and bodies. Another fitting start to Lent. (But I will miss the retreat! I hope for it's return next year.)

I ask you, my readers, for forgiveness. May we move ever toward community.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pre-Lenten Getaway, 2007

Phew! I wasn't sure we were going to be able to get one in this year, since Lent is coming so early. But we did it! We had to change our two days out of town to this week, because of a couple of deaths in the parish last week. And the other priest at our church is out of town for the Folk Dance Festival down in southern California. So Paul knew he would have to be "on call"--if there were any emergencies, he'd have to skedaddle back to Portland, on the double. Thank goodness, there were no emergencies!

We went to Eugene. We liked going to Ashland last year, and wanted to go again, but two strikes against that were the fact that we only had one night (two days) not two, like last year, and the Shakespeare Festival season hadn't quite started yet either. So we finally decided on Eugene and had one bad day and one good. Well, the first day wasn't entirely bad, but there were elements of it that were not ideal.

First, the kids were bickering from the get-go. We stopped at the end of our block to discuss how we wanted to actually *enjoy* this trip, and that was impossible if they continued this bickering! It slowed, but didn't stop for the rest of the day. But that was nothing compared to how bad it would be before the days' end. Now, none of us ended up in the hospital, and we didn't have a car crash or anything awful like that, so I suppose some might think I'm over-reacting. But our pre-Lenten getaway-- so necessary I believe it to be, because a priest's schedule is so demanding in the Orthodox church during Lent--needs to be fun and relaxing.

Anyway, I'll list some things that were good about the day first. One, we had a delicious breakfast at Pearl Bakery on our way out. And we had a terrific lunch in Eugene, at the World Cafe. I had the tempeh fajitas--now, the flavor wasn't exactly authentic, but it was so delicious! We found a great used bookstore, Smith Family Bookstore and spent more than an hour perusing it. And we had a great nap at the hostel we were planning on staying at that night. (Forshadowing of impending doom here...)

The night before we left, I had been looking through an online calendar of happenings in Eugene. And I found a concert of an artist that I discovered way back in September on Dawn's blog--Neko Case. I loved the video that Dawn posted--such a powerful and haunting voice! I found clips of her music online and had the rest of my family listen. Beautiful! We all were convinced to go to the concert. But alas....the opening act was awful--he could play decent guitar but his voice was frankly annoying in parts, singing about "luv" and with a put-on twang. More than that, he had nothing to *say*. We were so glad he only inflicted his "art" on us for about 45 minutes.

But Neko didn't come on right away. They were setting up and stuff after the other guy was done, and they even put the lights back on. We saw Neko come on stage and try out the guitar, all without spotlight. Then she left and it was a *long time* before she came back. When she did, I felt she was not truly with us--whatever problems there had been was where she still was. And she really lacked stage presence. Whenever she was not singing, she was looking at her musicians. But the worst was probably the mixing, which may have been the reason for the delay in the first place. We just couldn't understand the words. And that powerful voice that I'd admired online--it just wasn't there. Sometimes she seemed to cut out altogether. So, it wasn't an *awful* concert (though the opening act was--we dubbed him "subway man" because you can find just as good of performers in subways) but it was quite thoroughly mediocre.

Then came the real downer of the day. So, it was 10:30. We were all tired, especially Zac because he usually goes to bed between 9 and 9:30. We headed back to the hostel. Now, we all enjoyed greatly staying at the Hawthorne Hostel in Portland when we were visiting and planning to move to Portland. I like the idea of hostels--the loosely-formed community of travelers all sharing a real house, not a sterile motel. Having a real kitchen to use and share. Sitting in the common room reading while interesting people mill about, come and go. So, we liked the hostel in Eugene. But the guy who was working there was a little too good-intentioned. We had reserved the private room. But the private room only has one double bed. They could put a fold-up single bed in there for one of the kids, but then one would have to sleep on the floor. But we were cool with that. When we got to the hostel, however, it was quite empty. So the guy in charge showed us to the women's dorm, which was empty. It had four bunks. Great! We each get a bed. No problem. He told us it could be our private room.

Just inside the door to our room, though, was another door. We were to find out that it is a private women's room. After we ate lunch, the guy told us that there had been someone staying in there, and she'd called down after we'd left saying "did I just hear you showing the room to a *man*?" He'd "fixed" it by putting her in the private room we were going to have. Um, okay. Good. That works out just fine, I guess. I was wondering at that point how he'd missed the fact that she was there, but oh well.

So, we have a good afternoon, then the concert, then at 10:30 we headed back to the hostel. Oh, by the way! the guy says. We're all filled up now! And I put two women in the room off your room. They needed a place to stay and they were cool with the situation. At first I thought they would just be going through the little space by the door, just to get out. And then Paul asked, "will they be using our bathroom?" Yeah, the guy answered. But it's totally cool with them and I think it's going to work out just fine, he assured us.

I thought about it and the idea that the women were already asleep, and that probably meant that they'd be waking up earlier than us and traipsing through our room and using the bathroom, taking showers, etc. This was just not what I bargained for in my getaway! So, we left. We looked for a few minutes for a better-than-mediocre hotel that wasn't the Hilton, but didn't find one, so we settled for mediocre. Zac found the advantage: a TV in our room. :-)

*****SIDENOTE: There are two hostels in Eugene. I don't want to overly malign the one we stayed in...the guy really was well-meaning and he wanted to please everyone. So, I won't mention which hostel it was here. If you want to stay at a hostel in Eugene, and you want to make sure this doesn't happen to you, email me and I'll tell you the name of it.*****

So, we woke the next morning ready for a *good* day. And we had it! We went to breakfast at Morning Glory Cafe (I'm not finding a website for them but if you google it you can find lots of great reviews). Yum--vegan biscuits and gravy with tempeh! I'm not supposed to be eating vegan food this week but I couldn't help it--it was so good! And then off to another great bookstore, and the Footwise Birkenstock store across the street. Then Buffalo Exchange to look for shoes for Zac who has unusually narrow feet, and then when we didn't find them there, to St. Vincent de Paul where we found shoes for Zac and more! Most notably, bookshelves made in their workshop using recycled wood. Great! Just what I've been looking for. This house didn't come with very much shelving, and we had books still sitting in boxes. I can get them put away now!

Lunch was ho-hum....we had it in a promising-looking gourmet food court, but the only really good thing was the french fries. They were....dare I say McDonald's french fries, which is one thing McDonalds does well--though probably all that good flavor comes from chemicals.

We looked in a shop that has lots of fairly traded goods, kind of like a Ten Thousand Villages shop. Paul bought six more fluorescent bulbs, which have really worked out well....though we heard a report on NPR about how the mercury needs special recycling....sigh. Anyway, we got a henna tattoo kit as well, because Hibi asked for it and Paul was in an uncharacteristically spendy mood. So, we all took advantage of it. ;-) A visit to a nursery, because I'm reading the book Food Not Lawns, which has a boatload of great ideas in it. And I got the crazy idea while there in Eugene, which is where the author lives, that perhaps she or someone in her organization has a sample garden that could be walked through, to see how these things can be implemented. So we asked around, including a the nursery, but alas, found nothing.

The last thing we did in Eugene, which left us definitely sated, was Sweet Life Bakery. Paul and I both had chocolate cream pie, and so did Hibi. Yep, there was a vegan version as well! She was quite overwhelmed, in fact, with choices. She's used to not having very many, or none at all, that the sheer number of delicious-looking sweets gave her pause. She took quite awhile in deciding. Zac had a cream puff that was also delicious. Paul finished what he was going to finish and put the rest in a box, then said, "I'm ready for Lent." I looked down at my pie and said, "not yet!" But I finished mine off last night late. And now I am, after we have our Cheesefare classic, Cheese Soup in Breadbowls, tomorrow.

When we got home we watched the movie Gattaca. Wow, what a creepily interesting movie. We saw clips of this movie at a "Faith Forum"--an ecumenical gathering to discuss the ethics of genetics science. But I won't go into that now, as Zac is breathing down my neck, waiting to use the computer.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

First Egg! and Pajama Pants

Last night I just had a feeling that today was going to be the day we got our first egg.....I just thought it would be the Barred Rock, since she's supposed to be less of a seasonal layer. But today Thelma was nesting all morning, and just now I went out and found this smallish blue egg! It's cracked, though. She pushed aside the wood shavings and laid it on the wood. Maybe I need to get some straw--perhaps that'd be better.

Before we bought our house, I got fabric to make myself some pajama pants. Then all the madness of buying a house and moving and settling got hold of me and the fabric for pajama pants got packed up, along with the sewing machine. Last night I pulled it all out and cut out the pattern on this great pink flannel. My anti-pink daughter cringes at the pink, but I happen to LIKE pink, thank you very much! Besides, I'll just be wearing them to bed. Maybe.

This morning I sewed them up, quick as a wink (almost). They were very easy to make. Cutting out the pattern was the hardest part. And this cloth is *so* comfy! Soft, warm, and (as I mentioned earlier) *pink*. Here it is, 1:30 in the afternoon, and I am wearing them. I'm about to head to the library and so I'll change. Maybe. :-)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Early Detection Warning System

Gosh, that didn't take long. This morning I was brushing my teeth--in the basement bathroom, no less--and I heard a cacophony of crows. I rushed outside, where I saw the barred rock lying on her back and a ton of her feathers around on the ground. I also saw a bird that I thought was Thelma in the yard. This bird flew on top the neighbor's garage, and then into a tall tree. Here I was thinking, number one, that it was the crows that were causing my chickens distress, and number two, wow, Thelma sure can fly! But of course, it wasn't Thelma--I realized that Thelma was behind the garbage bin. It was a hawk. Trying to catch itself a tasty meal of one of my chickens.

I called for the kids to come out and help me--they were both still in their pajamas!--and we got all the chickens back inside their cozy home. We put a partition between the barred rock and the others, since she's hurt, and the Auracanas already are fighting with her--they'd certainly peck at her wounds.

Now I'm wondering what in the world to do to keep my hens safe from hawks. I suppose we could build an outside run for them....I've always liked the idea of free-range, though. Sigh.
A large percentage of the barred rock's tail feathers are here.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Our "Girls"!

Here are our newest additions! The two on the left are Auracanas, that we received from Raevyn (thanks, Raevyn!) from the PDX chicken list. They are really beautiful! And the third one was a spur-of-the-moment buy, when I walked into Foster Feed to buy a waterer for the other chickens and saw that they have hens as well! She's a Barred Rock. The three aren't mixing too well yet...hopefully soon they'll learn to get along. When I got the Auracanas, it was evening and they were sleepy. I just put them into the coop when we got home, and then I didn't have any worries about them getting confused about where home was at night. But I brought the Barred Rock home yesterday afternoon. I thought it a good idea to keep her in the coop until today. So I just set her in the nesting boxes in the coop, and the first time she met the Auracanas (whose names are Thelma and Louise) was when they came in for the night. The Barred Rock thought she was queen of the roost and wouldn't let the others come up in the nesting boxes or even onto the roosting perches. They slept on the floor. Today when I let them out, Thelma and Louise were pecking and chasing the Barred Rock. But I did have several chances to take pictures with all three of them in it, after they'd been out for a bit, without fighting. So hopefully they'll figure out the pecking order soon and there'll be peace!
Any suggestions for a name for the Barred Rock? Thelma and Louise came with suitable names already, as they'd already belonged to a Real Live Person. But we need a name for our Barred Rock.