Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Making Do

Today is the Forefeast of the  Transfiguration.  In normal years Orthodox Christians take grapes to church to be blessed but we can't go to church this year.  I don't know how to bless grapes but I picked some off of one of our vines,  put them by the icons, and sang the Troparion and Kontokion of the feast when I did Sixth Hour.  The grapes are pinot noir and are not ripe yet because of shade from nearby trees and clouds in the sky.  I'll leave them there until tomorrow, the actual feast day.  Then, I guess, I'll feed them to the goldfinches.

In other news I shot another squirrel in the garden this morning and harvested enough cucumbers to make two more jars of pickles.

I started with the census bureau yesterday.  It's just a couple of hours of training each day until next week.  I'm happy for an opportunity to earn money.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Saint Basil's Day (The other Basil)

Today is the feast of St. Basil of Moscow, the patron or my youngest son.  So, while praying the ninth hour today we got to sing the Troparion for St. Basil of Moscow.

Most of the beets, kale, and pumpkins - all the pumpkins, actually- we transplanted two weeks ago were destroyed by squirrels.  But we are still getting 5 or six big tomatoes, a dozen little cherry tomatoes, and three or four zucchini every day. (The squirrels, even though I shoot them, get more of the zucchini than we do.)  I've put up six quarts of pickles.  I really wanted more pickles but there have been very few bees in the garden this summer, so thought there have been many flowers there have not been many cucumbers.  I don't know what to think of that.  The carrots did not do well.  But the bell peppers are doing amazing.  The pumpkins we planted back in February were harvested and all but one given away.  I started more cantaloupe and pumpkin 2 weeks ago on the back balcony.  Tomorrow I'll transplant then into the garden. The turnips and radishes did really well but I'm really the only person in the house who likes them, so I won't plant any more, I think.

A word about the tomatoes:  The Cherokee purples did not do well.  We only got three or four off each vine.  The real star among the tomatoes this year is the Lemon Boy vine.  It is prolific and is the best tasting tomato I have ever had.  We might plant three or four of them next spring.

I ordered some short growing season watermelon seeds from Baker Creek.  They should be here in a couple of days.  I'll sew them directly into the ground and hope to harvest them in early October.

Kathleen and I have been doing a lot of fun stuff this summer.  We go shooting at Coyote Sporting Clays pretty often.  And, of course there are all the trips to Tahoe/Truckee/Reno.  (Basil and I went last Sunday and Monday.  He had a great time on the boat.)

Something kind of neat happened at dinner tonight.  Kathleen and I were talking about the reading list (Bastiat, Smith, Friedman etc.) for the economics class she teaches when Anselm, who graduated from high school two years early so did not take the economics course high school seniors take, asked Kathleen if he can take her class.  And since she, like all teachers in the county, is teaching online he can take it.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A trip to Reno, an Eagle Scout, and a Fountain in the Garden.

Kathleen and I just got back from spending two nights in Reno

We drove there on I-80.  I've spent so much time on that road this summer I am starting to memorize all the business along the way.  We stopped in Auburn to eat at Ikeda's. All we bought there was water and coffee because I can't eat their food. (It is difficult.  I used to enjoy shopping for groceries but now I just feel resentment when I go shopping.) But we used their outdoor tables and ate some cold roast pork and cheese.  I also bought some  of their peach jam for Basil Wenceslas, who was minding the garden and the dog while we were gone.

We arrived Monday afternoon and went to our new favorite shooting range, where we practiced with the Swedish Mauser (the most accurate rifle I've ever fired) and the Star Model S.  We fired about 200 rounds and got some really good groups.  Kathleen has decided that because she likes revolvers more than semi-autos and because of the price difference between .380 ACP ammo and .22 LR ammo she wants to get a Heritage Rough Rider.

For dinner we ate at Mel's.  I went off my diet and had a Reuben sandwich.  Other than Max's in San Francisco, it is the best I've had.  Yes, I felt the pang of no martini with my reuben.  But something really wonderful happened during dinner:  Anselm Samuel called me to say he had passed his board of review and was officially an Eagle Scout, something we have been working toward since the autumn of 2008.  Yes, I cried at the table.

We had a room at the Sands Regency.  And it was a great price; much lower than the rate I paid at the Inn at Truckee were we stayed last week.  It was a nice room with a great view of the Sierras to the west.

We woke up early Tuesday morning and drove to Donner lake to go fishing.  We trolled the lake for three hours but caught nothing.  After stowing the boat we stopped at Cabela's in Verdi where we bought matching shooting vests.  I was going to buy ammo for the guns so we could go shooting again but since the wuhan there has been a shortage of ammo in America,  and Cabela's was out of almost everything but bird shot and .22.  They had no .380 or 6.5mm Swedish.  So, we drove to Mark Fore and Strike.  They had the Swedish but, wow, crazy high price.  I'm used to paying between $25 and $27 for a box of 20 bullets but this was $34 for a box of 20.  I really need to start reloading my bullet casings.  It doesn't look that hard.

The afternoon was about doing nothing.  Kathleen went to the pool to lounge.  I stayed in the air-conditioned room and read.  For dinner Kathleen picked the Wild River Grille.  I had the meat loaf.  Kathleen had the rainbow trout.  It was good food.  That night I played blackjack in the Casino.  I stayed within budget and it took me almost 3 hours to lose $50.   I think that is, probably, enough gambling to last the rest of my life.  Kathleen played a slot machine and won $16 on one spin.

On the way home we listened to a book by Sir Roger Scruton: How to be a Conservative.  It was very enjoyable.  One thing he said very much rang true.  He was discussing Edmund Burke and conservatism being based in  love for family, truth, beauty, and goodness, when he said something along the lines of this:  Those who disrespect their ancestors also hate their descendants.  And I thought, wow, that really sums up the American leftists.

When we got home this afternoon we found the stem on the garden faucet broken.  I turned off the water at the main and began fixing it.  Then I broke the pipe and, to the joy of the neighborhood kids, sent a fountain of water 30 feet into the air.   It seems I had turned off the wrong valve.   Thankfully, one of my neighbors is a landscaper and helped me find the right valve, told be what parts to buy at the hardware store, and then fixed the pipe.  We paid him with tomatoes from the garden.

It is good to be home.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Boating and shooting but barely working

Kathleen spent the whole month of June and the first week of July in a rented house at Donner Lake.  I wasn't working because of the Wuhan so I spent the first week of June up there too.  Basil (son #4) and Kathleen's kids went, too.  As hard as we tried, whether fishing from the boat or the shore, we caught no fish.  We could see them in the water but they did not bite any of the bait or lures we tried.
Anselm (son #3) stayed at Kathleen's house while I was gone and took care of the garden.
Interestingly, Athanasia, Basil's mother went up to Donner Lake and spent several nights with Basil, Kathleen, and her kids.  They all had fun swimming and Athanasia did crafts with the kids.  Basil chased off a bear and her cubs that were raiding the trash can.

Anselm and I drove up there for two days in the last week of June.  We didn't catch any fish but we visited my favorite antique store in Reno, where he bought a really nice 100 year old pipe wrench.  Kathleen came home on July 6.

Why did I come back to San Jose after only being there for the first week of June?  Because I was expecting to start work for the Census Bureau.  But it was delayed again.  The start date has been repeatedly delayed because of the Wuhan.  They just told me today that my new start date is August 1.  Thankfully, I did go back to work at Bass Pro Shops in mid June but because of restrictions on how many customers we can serve I am only getting 15 hours per week.  At least, I am getting unemployment insurance.

So, what have I been doing during this time of plague?  Reading and gardening, mainly.

Books I've read since Santa Clara County shut down for this disease:

Gospel of Matthew
The Psalms
Farewell to Arms by Hemingway
The Night Manager by LeCarre
The #1 Ladies Detective Agency by McCall-Smith  (I first rad this book 15 years ago.  It is still wonderful.)
The Constant Gardener by LeCarre
The Way of Kings by Sanderson  (A present from my son Basil.)
Operation of Wastewater Treatment Plants (Vol. I) by Kerri and Dendy
The Decadent Society: How we Became Victims of Our Own Success by Douthat
Tears of the Giraffe by McCall-Smith 
Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization by Kriwaczek
The Secret Pilgrim by LeCarre
Euthyphro by Plato  (Every Christian in America, or any pluralistic society should read this book.  It is the best argument ever made against the idea that everyones ideas about morality are equal.)
The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway

Last week, since some of the restrictions have been lifted Kathleen and I went to Coyote Valley Sporting Clays were were both had our first experience shooting clay pigeons.  It was much fun.  We are planning on going duck hunting in Don Edwards in September, then turkey and pig hunting at Cache Creek in October.  Today I gave Kathleen a Mossberg Silver Reserve II so she won't have to use my shotgun but will have one of her very own.

Today  is Wednesday.  Kathleen and I just got back from another two days at Donner Lake.  This time we stayed at The Inn at Truckee.  The main purpose of the trip was to install and test the new outriggers on the canoe.  WOW!  They are amazing.   Even in 30mph winds the boat was steady.  Kathleen was even able to stand to cast.  We still didn't catch any fish.

The garden is producing a lot.  Squirrels are eating a lot before I pick it.  So far we killed two rabbits and six squirrels to protect the garden.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Flowers and a Trip to Donner Lake

I took the fish off the hook for Kathleen.
  Tuesday, two days ago now, early in the morning and with the boat strapped to the roof of the Subaru, Kathleen and I set off on a trip to Donner Lake.  We took the dog with us, and though he was mostly calm in the boat I think he prefers the land.  Kathleen caught a trout.

A really nice thing happened: We found a berth on the lake and it only cost $250 from now through mid-September.  Very happy about that.  Kathleen and her kids are spending a month there this summer and I was worried about her lifting the boat on to the roof of the car every day to go from her rental house to the lake but now that is not a problem.  I'm very happy about that. So, we left the boat on the lake and drove home at the end of the day.  Little did we know that CalTrans was repaving I-80 from Truckee to Auburn.  So we had to take a 30 mile detour through Tahoe National Forest at 25mph.  As we approached the Bay Area I thought we could take a short cut through the Caldecott Tunnel (my first time since the 4th bore oppened in 2013) but soon discovered that I-880 through Oakland was reduced from 7 southbound lanes to 1 southbound lane, and I-280 and U.S. 101 were both backed up due to road work. We did not get home until one o'clock on Wednesday morning.  But, still, it was a fun day.
Flowers on the Sweet Millions vine

Today we didn't do much.  Worked in the garden, watched some lectures from Hillsdale College, prayed the troparion and kontokian for Ascension and that's about all.  It was too hot to cook so we just had sliced vegetables (including tomatoes, radishes, and cucumbers from our garden) and cheese (Point Reyes Blue and Laura Chenel fresh goat cheese) for supper.

I talk about the tomatoes and other food crops in the garden but I think I like the flowers as much as the vegetables.  Here are pictures of some of the flowers in our garden.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Streaming Vespers and New Seedlings

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Saratoga is live streaming a;; the services, even tea time with the priest is streaming.  I watched vespers twice last night but did not watch the DL this morning.  It's kind of fun.  I send the checks and they keep streaming.  It's like Netflix but better.

We lost one of the Cherokee purple plants today  I think we over pruned it.  But that's okay because yesterday we visited something called The Finca in downtown San Jose.  It is a non-profit that runs a program called ValleyVerde.  They gave me some seedlings and then I bought a whole bunch more.  They let Kathleen and I just walk through their greenhouses picking out whatever we wanted.  We came home with seedlings for Clemson okra, zucchini (unknown variety), thai chilis, and the following varieties of tomatoes:  San Marzano, Amish Paste, Tasmanian Chocolate Dwarf, and Indigo Cherry Drop, We also brought home cinnamon basil, Greek yevani basil, holy tulsi basil.

The poppies have germinated and the plants are thick but no flowers yet.  All the bulbs have put up beautiful plants but, so far, only the echinacea is blooming.  All the different kinds of sunflowers are putting up big stalks but there are no blossoms.  The zinnias and the marigolds still haven't germinated.  I am beginning to think, because it is almost June, that they are not going to.

I shot another squirrel in the garden yesterday.  The nematodes seem to have done their job on the grubs.  I over fertilized the radishes with nitrogen so the leafs are huge and green but the roots are tiny.  Of the hundreds radishes I planned to harvest this week only about 20 were worth keeping.  They tasted good though.  The female pumpkin flowers came out this morning, about a week after the appearance of the males, so I went out and fertilized them by hand.  I tried to be delicate.  I hope I didn't damage anything.

Friday, May 22, 2020

We Bought a Boat

Kathleen and I bought a 15 foot boat three days ago.  It was a bit of an adventure.  We drove to the Bass Pro Shop in Manteca to buy it but when we got there it had already been sold.  It was the last one they had in stock.  From there we drove to Sacramento to buy one Kathleen found on Craigslist.  When we go there we saw that it was not water worthy.  So we decided to head home without a boat.  As we were passing by Davis, Kathleen, using Craigslist again, found one in Stockton.  We pulled off the freeway in Davis so the dog could take a little walk. (It was my first time in Davis since 2011.  It was full of memories for me.)  After the dog did what it needed to do we drove to Stockton (Like all the towns in California's central valley it has a beautiful downtown area that is neglected as the suburban tract house developments expand n to the surrounding farmland.  It is very sad.) and bought the boat.  Then we had to strap it to the top of the Subaru.  Driving it over the Altamont Pass was a little scary; boats on car roofs are kind of like big sails. We got home just before midnight.

Yesterday I went and bought a 55 lb thrust Minn Kota trolling motor, battery charger, and marine battery.  Also, yesterday (but she is still working on it today) Kathleen has been trying to get it registered and pay all the taxes.  It is a headache because officially, the boat never entered California.  She has found records of it leaving  Canada but not entering California.  And the state offices are closed because of the Wuhan Bat Virus.

In other news...

Today was a day of repairs in the garden.  I had to rip out a row of radishes an throw them in the compost pile.  They should have been ready to pick last week but too much N in the soil caused big beautiful plants above the ground but at the expense of developing big yummy roots.  Thankfully it isn't even June yet so I can still plant something else.  Kathleen took out some volunteer potatoes that came up among the tomatoes.  We compost potato scraps from the kitchen so, it seems, the compost isn't getting hot enough.  Now I'm a little bit worried about other seeds that might be surviving the composting process.  I'll have to figure out what to do about that. The harvest today was a handful of small radishes, 3 zucchini, and a yellow straight-necked squash. And the boys came over last night and we played Risk!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Seed Companies I like

Yesterday was Mid-Pentecost, the halfway point between Pascha and Pentecost.  I didn't know this until a few days ago (I'm always learning new things about our Faith.), but Mid-Pentecost is the day the Orthodox Church blesses fields and gardens.  So, I sent a message to my priest and asked him for a big jar of holy water (The archbishop won't let him do any services during the Wuhan.) so I could bless the garden myself.  He left the jar and a cross outside the church for me to pick up.  Then Kathleen and I went in to the garden where we said the prayers.  Then she sang the Paschal troparion while I splashed holy water all over the place.

I buy some plants already sprouted at local nurseries but I also do some planting of seeds.  I get really good service from the following companies.

I love Wild Boar Farms for their crazy beautiful tomatoes.  Very fast delivery.

Victory Seeds is my go to for carrots, turnips, herbs, tobacco, and beets.  They also have cool stickers you can buy.

I get flower seeds and paste tomatoes from Fruition Seeds.  They include a handy planting guide with your order for free.

Oh, two days ago I shot the rabbit that was laying waste to our garden. It ruined eight zucchini and all the verbena in one day. 
The rabbit is dead.
The First Radish

Yesterday after the garden blessing we harvested the first radish from the garden.  It's red globe variety, but we have several other varieties growing, too.

Oh, I should also mention two other companies I like very much.  The first is Gardeners Supply Company.  I very much like their stackable tomato towers.  The other company is Arbico Organics.  They are my go to for ladybugs and nematodes. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Back on Zero Carbs

Pascha was strange this year.  No services.  Still,  I decorated eggs, made a big dinner, and  the boys brought over paskha and  kulich, 

After bright week I went back on my zero carb diet.  I had gained probably 10 or 15 pounds since Christmas.   It's not very easy.   I call it zero carb really that is impossible unless one only eats meat and butter.  Nevertheless, I can get close to it by only eating meat, bell peppers, cucumbers and cabbage.  I can get my carb content down to 1% of total calories.  My goal is to lose 5 pounds per week until I am below 200 pounds. 

The garden is doing pretty well.  Because of not having any work due to the over-reaction to the bat virus I have lots of time to work in the garden.  Because I have so much time it has grown since my last update.  Currently we have:

Food Plants
Cherokee purple tomatoes: 6 vines
Sungold tomatoes: 7 vines (rom seeds)
Celebrity tomatoes: 2 vines
Early girl tomatoes: 1 vine
Beef steak tomatoes: 1 vine
Bonnie Original tomatoes: 4 vines
Black cherry tomatoes: 1 vine
Sweet Millions tomatoes: 1 vine (We've already harvested some of these.)
Pickling cucumbers: 4 vines (from seeds)
Eating cucumbers: 5 vines (from seeds)
Bell peppers: 4 plants
Straight necked squash: 1 vine (from seeds)
Black Beauty zucchini: 3 vines
Golden Zebra zucchini: 3 vines
Spaghetti squash: 1 vine
Cantaloupe: 10 vines (from seeds)
Pumpkin: 2 vines (seeds saved from last years garden)
Green onions: dozens and dozens in a 18" x 10" box.  I harvest them by cutting off the tops and letting them re-grow.
Grapes:  3 vines (Too early for grapes but we ate some of the leaves in a salad a couple of days ago.)
Hundreds of radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips of many varieties planted among the tomatoes and bell peppers.
Dozens of lemon basil plants, sweet basil plants, licorice basil plants, and red basil plants planted around the tomatoes.
Lemons: two trees (One is old enough to produce fruit this year).
Rosemary (planted three years ago.)
Oregano (new this year)
Thyme (Planted two years ago)

Flowers (hundreds and hundreds located all over the garden)
5 varieties of sunflowers
Black Eyed Susan
Bee Balm
Smap Dragons
Assorted California wildflowers

I used to dream about disappearing into the wilderness and starting a farm.  It looks like I've achieved the farm without leaving Silicon Valley. I even have a farmer's tan!

I broke the Bat Disease lockdown rules a couple of times.  Kathleen and I went to Nevada for a night. I bought .380 ACP ammo and pipe tobacco while we were there.  She and Basil and I went fishing at Stevens Creek Reservoir during Bright Week. We didn't catch anything.  Last week we drove up to Donner Lake to fish.  It was beautiful.  Snow on all around us and the lake was like a mirror.  But, again, we caught no fish.


Monday, April 13, 2020

Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday

Lazarus Saturday I made a big dinner.  The menu was 4 kinds of caviar (I ordered it from Marky's.  They always provide good service.), humous with celery, green onions, and carrots for dipping, kalamata olives, a three-been salad, a beet salad, pita, baklava from Greece, rose, mint and lemon  loukoumi from occupied Constantinople, and halva with nuts from Lebanon.  We prayed the troparion before eating and read a sermon on the resurrection of Lazarus while eating. 

On Palm Sunday I fried three big wild tilapia and a whole big bag full of okra.  Basil made hushpuppies.  Again before the eating we prayed the troparion.  It was the first time I had fried a fish since 1989 when I lived in Tennessee with my first wife.  Wow.  That seems like so long ago.

After dinner on Saturday we watched the first half of the BBC The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  We watched the second half on Sunday night.

Today is Holy Monday.  I watched a recording of last nights Bridegroom Matins service while I cleaned the guns.  (I know. I know.  I should have done it days ago.  I've been busy taking naps.)  I think I'll go work in the garden now.  I'm thinking about planting radishes and beets around the tomatoes.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Things I'm doing during the pesitlence.

Today is Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt.  All I've done today is make a quiche (eggs, heavy cream, shredded gruyere, sauteed mushroom & onions in a pie crust), and restock the first aid kit.  Because we want to avoid going to the ER for anything during this Bat Disease plague we want to be able to treat as much as possible at home.  I still need to get sutures and inflatable splints but I have everything else I might need..   

It has been raining heavily, even some hail, since about sunset last night.  This is not the expected weather for April, and I'm a little bit worried about the garden.  The forecasters say to expect weather like this through tomorrow.  

Kathleen is still teaching remotely.  I've been grading some of her students work for the past three days.

I'm still kind of hobbled by that foot injury.  Trying not to walk or stand too much.

I still need to clean the guns after going shooting with Anselm a few days ago.   But first I'll take a nap.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

A Little Shooting

Yesterday, Anselm Samuel and I loaded all the guns into the car and drove over the Pacheco Pass to go to the Panoche Hills near Mercy Hot Springs.  It was weird.  Almost no one is on the road.  When we got to the BLM land we set up a some targets on one side of a canyon and shot at them from the other side; about 150 yards.  He's a pretty good shot.  He wasn't prepared for the kick from the Mauser and shotgun and got bruised up pretty bad. 

From the tops of the hills we could see clear across the San Juaquin Valley to the snow-topped Sierra Nevada.  While we were there I got an alert on my phone saying they were going to close the county because of the disease.  I was a little bit worried about getting home but there were no roadblocks at the county line yet.  So, now I am at home, I guess for a month.  But that's okay.  I seem to have injured my left foot pretty seriously yesterday (sprained or broken.  I don't know.) and am not able to walk.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Rice, the Chinese Bat Disease, and the Garden

Last night I made three different rice dishes for Kathleen and her kids.  Her kids are constantly complaining about the lack of meat in the dinners since the start of Lent and they sat down to the table saying they weren't going to like it.  Oh, they were so wrong!  They loved it.  Dish one was a very spicy dish flavored with onions, cayenne pepper, garlic, casltlevetrano olives, shallots, basil, fresno chiles, and tomatoes.  The second dish was a Persian dish flavored with almonds, ginger, cumin, and anise.  And for desert I made rice pudding topped with my homemade caramel.  That last made me especially happy for Kathleen was amazed that I know how to make caramel.  I keep thinking I've shown her all my tricks but then I do something that surprises her.  I hope I can keep it up.  The kids ate everything I cooked and asked for more.

The National Guard converted the Santa Clara Convention Center into a hospital for CBD patients.  A woman just three blocks from where my sons lived died.

Squirrels ate all the rubdeckia bulbs and all but one of the echinecea bulbs Basil planted.  I do not like squirrels.

Now the boys and I are going to visit my parents' grave to pray for them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Annunciation Sing-A-Long

An Editorial for Annunciation:What I love about this Annunciation Sing-Along (Link to video posted below):
1. Every word is pronounced clearly so that the ideas are understandable. Clarity of the words is the the most important thing in the singing of Christian music; even more important than the music. If every member of the choir is tone deaf and just reads the lyrics in a spoken voice that is preferable to singing perfect music but not pronouncing every vowel and consonant clearly. Thankfully, these are good singers and the music is beautiful, but it is their diction that is most beautiful.
2. WOW! Giant chunks of theology. CONTENT! CONTENT! CONTENT! This is my favorite thing about Orthodox Christian hymnody. (Actually, I like this about most pre-1900 hymnody. Even if written by heterodox there is enough to content in pre-1900 hymns to grapple with, and to see if it is true or false.)
3. Please, small choirs, your use of reverb or whatever that electronic effect you are using that you think makes you sound as though you are singing in Hagia Sophia in Constantinople or Christ the Savior in Moscow doesn’t. At best it makes you sound like you are being recorded by a an engineer who doesn’t know what he is doing. At worst it makes you seem deceptive. Recordings of liturgy should be true because the liturgy is in service of the Truth.
4. The speed is perfect. It’s not so slow as to be somnolent. It isn’t so fast that it is like the report of an M-60 machine gun. The words are distinct, not blended together. The ear has time to hear every word before it has to hear the next word. The brain has time to understand every word before it has to understand the next word. This is an important help in learning the theology of the lyrics. This choir nails it!

5. The words are right there in front of me. Something I know and utilize as a teacher is this: “Every time I read something, say something, hear something, or write something I make another copy of it in my brain.” Having an idea in my brain is the first step toward knowing it. From a pedagogical standpoint, having the lyrics before my eyes while hearing and singing along makes perfect sense. I love it!
6. The icons. They are like the perfect cream cheese frosting on a perfect carrot cake. What I can not comprehend with words and music is presented in images. Oh, the joy of seeing Mary put down her spindle for there will be no need to make vestments for the temple in Jerusalem, for God is coming to dwell among us and and not it temples made of stone.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Anselm is 18, a shopping list, other stuff

Today is Anselm Samuel's eighteenth birthday.  He has turned out okay; a better son than I deserve. He seems to be ready for adulthood.  He's better prepared than I was. We can't have a party for him since we are not allowed to do anything in groups per the Health Department's order.

It is the case, as I discovered a couple of days ago, that Anselm did not miss the deadline for Eagle Scout.  He has all the requirements met, and all the forms signed.  Only one thing is lacking: The final Eagle Project in which he leads a bunch of Scouts in a big public service project.  It was supposed to be finished yesterday but because of the Health Department's order he couldn't assemble the Scouts to do the work.  The BSA is giving him an extension on the time.

I wasn't too worried about the Covid-19, or the Chinese Bat Disease  as I am calling it just to annoy Chairman XI and the Chicoms, but since yesterday I've been trying to file and claim for unemployment insurance and have been able to get through to their office.  (The census bureau has delayed my start time until late April.)  Their website is down and they don't answer their phones.  They seem to be overwhelmed.  Also, I read that the Javits Center, a VERY BIG convention center in Manhattan is being turned into a hospital, and the Navy is sending its hospital ships to New York and Seattle.

The California Health Department is planning on 50% of the people in the state getting CBD by the end of April.  But they are not all going to die from CBD.  Depending on age group the death rate from known cases ranges from 0% (19 and younger) to 27% (85 and older), so lets just go with a 2% death rate to keep things simple.  The population of California is about 40 million people.  That means, if the California Health Department is right and the CDC is right, that 20 million Californians will catch CBD, and 400,000 Californians will die from CBD before the start of summer.

So, because the chances of getting the CBD seems to be about 50/50, I'm going out today to buy the stuff needed to take care of Kathleen and I.  This is made more difficult for me because yesterday something happened to my left foot. 

My foot has been hurting for a few weeks but the pain was tolerable, but yesterday, while I was walking there was a loud, audible pop right in the middle of my foot and now I can barely walk.  The various websites I went to say I probably have arthritis in my foot.  I don't know.  I sent an email to my doctor yesterday but haven't heard back from her.  She's probably busy treating people for CBD.

So, what will I have on hand to deal with CBD?  I think a couple of gallons of Gatorade, about 20 cans of Ensure, beef bullion, lots of kleenex tissues, aspirin, Tylenol, a thermometer, laundry soap, a big bottle of chlorine bleach.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

St. Patrick's Day

Yesterday was the first day of the state ordered "Shelter-in-Place" and "Social Distancing".  I spent the day working in the garden with Kathleen and Basil.  Then I cooked corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes in the pressure cooker/canner Kathleen gave me a couple of years ago.  Anselm Samuel made Irish soda bread.  I made two pies.  I gave everyone little icons of St. Patrick with his "Lorica" printed on the reverse.   I told the story of St. Patrick doing spiritual combat with the wizards at Tara. We prayed the "Lorica", ate dinner and desert, then watched a movie set in Ireland, "Waking Ned Devine."  All in all, it wasn't a bad first day of the pestilence restrictions, and it was a very good St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Pestilence: Covid-19

We've been watching as the disease spreads.  Three days ago the school district I work for sent everyone home and said not to come back until April 13.  The last three days at my other job were nuts.  We sold out of 9mm, .40, .38, and ..44 snd .45 pistol  ammo.  We ran out of buck shot.  We ran out of 5.56mm and 7.62mm rifle ammo.  A co-worker in the camping department said they ran out of freeze-dried food and generators.  A friend who works at the county hospital's ER said they are already overwhelmed. A friend who works for Cal-Fire was told last night to prepare for riots in case of quarantine.  The Governor is expected to make an announcement in eleven hours.

Kathleen and I have stocked up on beans and rice.  We have water.  We have chlorine.  We have cash.  We have gasoline.  I took a rifle and ammo over to my sons' house.  They have a fall back plan.

In other news, I was offered and accepted a job with the U.S. Census Bureau.  I won't start for a couple of weeks.  It will exempt me from the quarantine and give me an opportunity to earn money while I can't work at my other jobs.

This is the prayer the bishops have told us to pray:

"O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in thine ineffable goodness, look down upon us, thy people gathered in thy Holy Name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. Thou knowest our weakness. Thou hearest our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who lovest mankind, deliver us from the impending threat of the Corona Virus. Send thine angel to watch over us and protect us. Preserve the healthy in good health. Grant healing and a quick recovery to those suffering from this pernicious disease. Guide the hands of physicians, nurses, and all health care workers who are laboring on behalf of all of our people, and protect them from infection. Enable us to continue to serve our suffering brothers and sisters in peace that together we may glorify thy most honorable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages."

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dinner Last Night, the Garden this Morning, and a Recipe

Preserving Lemons and Oranges
Last night Son #3 came over and we made dinner together.  When Kathleen and her kids got home we served hummus, homemade pita chips, halved pita for stuffing, thin sliced red cabbage, three kinds of olives, greek peppers, my homemade hot sauce, minced radishes, Morrocan rice (flavored with some of the lemons Son #4 and I preserved in salt a back in January 2019.  We also preserved some seville oranges that day.), sardines, and sliced onions, and Son #3's banana bread.  It was a good meal.

I didn't have a sub assignment today so I worked in the garden this morning.  The good news:  Everything seems to be growing, even some of the bulbs are coming up.  We bought some little coconut fiber pots to start more plants in.  Mostly cucumber and tomato; both doing well.  None of the marigolds have sprouted yet but I have hope. 
The bad news: Squirrels.  They keep eating leaves and shoots and digging things up.  Maybe it was a mistake to trap and kill cats.  I don't know.

My Hummus Recipe

Three cans garbanzo beans
One van tahini.
6 clovers garlic finely minced

1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

In a large bowel use a potato masher to mash and mix together the beans and tahini.

Add the salt, garlic, and pepper. Mix well.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

The Garden, my knee, and Lent

Red snap dragons growing near tomato plants.
The garden is looking okay for March.  My Indian neighbor, the one who taught me how to grow garlic, planted marigold seeds with me today along the eastern edge of the eastern most planter box.  We got the seeds from the marigold flowers we planted last year.  Two little boys came out and watched, they are the ones who gave us the little lemon tree we planted out by the garden.  I gave them each a snap dragon and taught them how to open it's saws.  Mammy, my Dad's mom taught me how to do it when I was about these boys' age.  A squirrel ate all the the squash plants that we started from seed.  Oh well.  What are you going to do?

It seems that I am getting old.  I thought I broke or, at least, sprained my knee but it turns out that I have arthritis.  It hurts pretty bad.  Walking is very difficult. The doctor said they don't want to give me shots at this age, 51 because if they do there won't be any tendons left when I am 60. So, I just have to take large amounts of tylenol and ibuprofen and use some some kind of gel on my knee twice a day.  Oh, and she said I have to lose another 50 pounds; like I haven't already lost 80.  I guess Lent is a good time to lose more weight.

This is Kathleen's first attempt at Orthodox Lent.  I am easing her into it.  So far, we are just going meatless.  It is a big change for her.  She has never been a vegetarian before and she is kind of aghast at the idea of no meat at all for 47 days.  Tonight I made indian food: Garbanzos cooked in ginger, garlic, turmeric, and coconut milk together with a roasted savory squash and sweet potato dusted with salt and allspice.

Anselm and I were able to to to Great Compline at St. Nicholas Church last night.  I think, given my work schedule that I should be able to go every Monday and Tuesday night during Lent.  I can't do prostrations because of my knee but, at least, I can be there.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Christmas, Birthday, the Boys, and the Garden

Christmas was pretty busy.  I did manage to find the time to go up the mountain to get Christmas trees.  It was, probably, the last time Anselm Samuel will do it.  I expect next Christmas he will be off in Alaska or Texas or South Dakota working as a welder.  I didn't find the time to make the Christmas sausage or go to any services at the Cathedral, but I was able to go to the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas on Christmas morning and the boys went to vespers at St. Stephen with their mother on Christmas Eve.  I was surprised by that.  I didn't know she still went to church.  About the only things I remember from Christmas this year are the party at my sisters house, going to church, and going for a walk along Fulton Street in Palo Alto with Kathleen and her kids.  Unlike the crazy, crowded, loud, over-the-top decorations in Willow Glen or some other parts of the bay area, Fulton Street is quiet and quaint.  You just walk along in the cold, looking at the houses.  It kind of evokes the feeling Rat and Mole had experienced when they were walking through a human village on Christmas Eve.

January is kind of a blur.  All I did was work.  Everyday.

In February I began taking a class on wastewater management.  It is something I have always been interested in but I never knew how to get into it.  I tried to get into it about 10 years ago but the nearest school for it was in Los Angeles.  In January of this year one of my co-workers at Bass Pro Shops told me that her other job is for the City of Palo Alto and that she works in drinking water but knows all the people in waste water.  I mentioned to her that I was always interested in that but didn't know how to get into it.  So she told me.  Then I told Kathleen about the conversation and the next day she emailed me a flyer from the school where she teaches.  The flyer said that at the request of several local governments they were offering a course that meets the legal requirements for someone to take the waste water treatment plant operator test.  So, I signed up for the class and the test.   I am very excited about this opportunity.

My 51st birthday was on the 4th.  Kathleen and the boys threw a little party for me.  I had Rocky Road and Jamocha Almond Fudge ice cream from Baskin-Robins.  Those have been my favorites since I was a little boy.

Basil and I went fishing at Lake Amador a couple of days ago.  We had fun but caught no fish.  He is still doing high school and college concurrently.  He got straight As in high school last semester and a B in his college class.  This semester he is taking another class at Evergreen Valley College: intro to philosophy.  So far, he is enjoying it.  I love that he is spending two nights a week with me.

Anselm missed a dead line for Eagle Scout so he won't be getting it.  I don't think it matters to him.  He just likes going on the camp outs.  Him getting Eagle was always more important to me than it was to him.  Besides, he is more involved with his Venturing crew and Order of the Arrow  lodge than he is with his Boy Scout troop.  He has finished his welding training but is still to young to get a job as a welder so he is working full-time at Starbuck's and trying to get into the apprenticeship programs at either the pipe-fitter union or the sheet metal union.

The garden.  Not to scale.

The garden is doing okay.  The garlic we planted in the fall is ready to ready to harvest.  It isn't the typical big-bulbed garlic you see in stores.  It is tender flavorful spring garlic.  I've been cooking with it for a week.  On Monday (today is Thursday) we built a new planter box.  So now we have four 4'x8' boxes and a bunch of pots.  We planted a lot of tomatoes, some bell peppers, pumpkin (from seeds we saved from our favorite pumpkin last year), some early squash, and a lot of flowers.  As soon as all the garlic is harvested we'll plant cucumbers and zucchini.  The garden always makes me happy.  Yes, we still have grubs, but not as many as last year.  And more nematodes are being delivered today.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Advent So Far

Cranberry-Nut Bread:  One large, three small.
It has been a trying Advent.  Kathleen's one job takes about 60 hours per week.  My three jobs (Only two now.  I resigned my rental housing job last week.  Now I only work at Bass Pro Shops and and as a substitute teacher.) have kept me super busy, too.  Nevertheless, I have been able to get the boys and Kathleen to read through the Gospel of Luke with me; a chapter a day for 24 days, then the next morning is Christmas. 

I've managed to do some baking.  I donated three of my fruitcakes to the parish bake sale.  Tonight when I came home from work I baked four loaves of cranberry-nut bread.  (I'll probably give them to the people I work with at Bass Pro Shops.) It reminded me of when Cyndi and I used to bake a loaf for every family at Holy Trinity Cathedral.  It was so hard.  We both worked (I for AT&T. She for BAVC) but would be up all night long on Christmas Eve to get all the loaves baked and wrapped.  But it was so much fun to give them away after the Divine Liturgy on Nativity.
Somehow, I have to find time to take the boys to get a Christmas tree and we still have to grind and stuff the Christmas sausage.  Gosh.  There is so much to do.  I'm glad I don't have to do Christmas shopping. Presents bought at shops are the worst part of Christmas.

So, if I don't want boughten presents what do I want for Christmas?  To see my children wiping away tears at Confession.  To marry Kathleen so I can approach the chalice again. To cook for lots of people and make them happy.  To see Alastair Sims as Scrooge again

Friday, December 06, 2019

A Mouse in the Garden

I took out the last tomato vine and composted it.  Actually, I took the opportunity to turn the compost, something I haven't done in a couple of months.  In one bin I found a giant ant colony.  In the other was a mouse nest.  The mouse was little brown and afraid.  I didn't kill it.  I don't think it's hurting anything. All that is growing in the garden now is garlic and onions.

It seems that St. Nicholas visited my boys and Kathleen's kids early this morning for there were chocolate coins found in shoes.

A Christmas Gift List for Women Who Buy Presents for Men

One of my more popular posts (Like the Fall of Constantinople and Egg Nog it gets millions and millions of page views.) is the Christmas list for the man who has everything.  So, I'm going to make another Christmas list. If it is popular as last year's I'll probably make it an annual event.

10.  What is that sound, you ask?  It's the sound of majesty!  When your man wakes you up in the morning by playing these beautiful bagpipes you'll feel like Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle. 

9. Remember that time you and your man got lost while taking the tour at MGM Studios, and how you walked in the wrong door and got to see George Cukor berating Angela Landsbury for stealing every scene she was in?  Well, did you notice the chair?  Your man did, and he wants a director's chair just like that one, but made of leather.

8. Your man looks Irish but he is very in-touch with his Native American ancestors. His mother's mother's mother was a Cherokee so you just know he would cherish these Trail of Tears bookends.

7.  He's never ridden a bull.   He's never been on a cattle drive.  He's never worked on a ranch.  But he has a cowboy hat and he likes to eat at Harris's and Alexander's.  So get him what he really needs:  A steer horn chair. Just think of the hours of enjoyment!

6. When he joined the church you thought it was just another phase, like fly fishing or pasta making.  But now, decades after they let him in he's been elected to be parish warden.  He has the broom for sweeping up after services.  He has a plunger and a wrench for fixing the toilets.  Now all he needs is this gorgeous churchwarden pipe.

5.  His tools were given to him by his dad and he can tell you all about the many things he's built or maintained with those tools.  But they are all in a pillow case in the corner of the garage.  Give him a worthy home for those tools.  Give him a leather tool roll.

4. He was Colonel Potter's favorite author and he'll be your man's favorite author, too. Just as soon as you give him a a copy of one of Zane Grey's books.

3. He hunts. He cooks.  He camps.  He likes to play with fire.  Bring all his hobbies together with this wonderful memory-making dutch oven and tri-pod.

2.  He's wanted them ever since he saw Grease when he was a kid.  Get him what he always wanted but was too practical to buy for himself:  Fuzzy dice!!!

1.  The Leg Lamp

Sunday, December 01, 2019

An Advent Wreath Service for the Domestic Church

We Orthodox (I still call myself Orthodox even though I am unable to commune for the past few years; a situation that will be rectified before this time next year) don't do as much during the Nativity Fast (In the west it is called Advent) as we do during Great Lent.  Pretty much, all we do is,  beginning on November 15, abstain from wine, oil, meat, fish, dairy, and sex.  Positively we give more secret alms and there are the two services on the two Sundays preceding the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ According to the Flesh. (In the west it is called Christmas).  Oh, there is also the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple but other than that there isn't much that is different about this time of year; very unlike Great Lent in the Spring which is totally jam packed with stuff.

So, what can a person do to get the most out this time of year.  Well, if you have little children there are many books you can read to them.  My children are not little anymore so

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Two Good Bakers

Today I taught two little girls how to make the Cranberry-Walnut Pie.  The little bakers did  a very good job on them.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


I took the morning off from work ( I am working later tonight though) to go turkey hunting.  I got my limit so the season is over for me.  I got two toms with one shot of Federal #5 steel shot. I was only aiming at the big one but at 40 yards the shot pattern is pretty wide and I got the smaller one by mistake.  They are, after plucking and gutting, 14 and 17 pounds.  The gun is a Stevens Side-by-Side 12 ga. made in1943.  It looks like I am all set for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Water Temple and Pumpkins

Anselm at the farm

Basil wore his plague doctor costume
I had my 90-day review at work tonight.  They said I am doing well and will keep me on.

Yesterday Anselm and Basil and I went to Bob's Pumpkin Farm over by Half Moon Bay and then to the Water Temple.  It was their first time at the Water Temple since they were little boys but we go to the pumpkin farm every year. Anselm says he is planning on moving to Texas or Alaska next spring when he turns 18 so I suppose this will be his last year to go to the Pumpkin farm with me.

We each got a pumpkin for carving and I got two for cooking.  I still have two out in the garden that are almost ready to pick.

Each each year since 2006
The Water Temple

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Fishing at Coyote Lake

In the early 1990s my parents used to go to Coyote Lake in their motor home.  One summer, I remember, they stayed there for a couple of months with my two oldest sons, Billy and Devon.  (I miss them greatly.)  I went down and saw them at the lake several times during that summer.  I had to work but I got down there when I could.  Weekends.

This morning, about 20 years since the last time I at that lake, Anselm and I went fishing down there.  It was strange for me.  I loved being with Anselm (He caught a bass on a crawdad lure but it was two small to keep). but I was also sad because of my first two sons.  We saw three different flocks of turkeys (one was mostly Gould's variety but the others looked like Rio Grand variety.  I was surprised to see such sharp distinctions.) a covey of quail, several mule deer, and a bobcat.  but no coyotes.

Sometimes, it seems like I have had too many lives.  Everything and everywhere is full of memories.

Anselm and I are going to make a regular thing out of Thursday mornings, I think.  I am able to arrange my work schedule so that I don't have to be anywhere until 2pm on Thursdays, and that is fine for fishing.  I am very happy about that.

Monday, October 07, 2019

A Fourteen Year Old

Basil Wenceslas turned 14 today.  It is amazing.  I can hardly believe it. It seems like yesterday that I wasa driving his mother to Good Samaritan Hospital, that Fr. David was naming him, that Bishop Benjamin was baptising him, that he was going to his older brother's cub scout meetings, then becoming a Cubs Scout himself.  I loved reading to him.  Blueberries for Sal was one of his favorites.  It was given to him by an old woman who lived next door to us when Basil was still in a stroller.   For this birthday I gave him a Koine Greek curriculum.  I hope we get to read it together.  He is even taking a college class now.  He is doing so well compared to where he was a couple of years ago.  I am proud of him.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Nematodes, Tomatoes, and Hornworms

The good news is that the nematodes worked!  All the grubs are dead and the tomato plants are producing again. Cucumber and squash are recovering, too. We are very pleased.

The bad news is we now have tomato hornworms.  Kathleen has recruited neighborhood kids into an anti-hornworm task force.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Nematodes and a new Life Scout

I want to plant garlic seeds before November but not with all those nasty grubs in the soil.  So Kathleen bought 40,000,000 nematodes and I treated two of the raised beds.  She said she is going to buy more so I can treat all our other growing areas.  Hopefully the nematodes do their job and we will have lots and lots of garlic in the spring.

Anselm (AKA the little boy) had his board of review for Life Scout tonight.  He passed.  Next step is Eagle Scout.  I can hardly believe he is almost there.