Sunday, November 30, 2008

I made one of these today

One of the books I read to the boys today is "A Pioneer Christmas: Celebrating in the Backwoods in 1841". After reading about pomaders in the book I decided to make one. I modified the instruction a little and came up with this.

You'll need:
-sheet of newspaper
-a jar of whole cloves
-an apple
-a tablespoon of ground cinnamon (1 tsp in original instructions)
-a tablespoon of ground ginger (1 tsp in original instructions)
-a Tablespoon of ground nutmeg (not in original instructions)
-a small paper bag (I used a zip lock bag)
-2 24inch (60cm) lengths of red ribbon

1. Spread newspaper out on table (This made clean up very easy), push stem of one clove into apple. Pushi in a scond clove right next to the first one. Continue adding cloves until apple is completely covered. (Your thumb will get sore.)

2. Put Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger into bag. Put one clove covered apple into bag and shake it until it is coated with the spices. Remove apple from bag and shake to remove excess spice.

3. Make the hanger as follows: Set 1 ribbon before you on the table. Set the apple in the middle of the apple. Wrap both end of the ribbon up and over the apple. Tie a tight not, leaving two long tales. Stop here and move one to making the bow.

4. Set apple on 2nd ribon so that the second ribbon is at a right angle to the first. Tie a bow on top the the knot inthe first ribbon.

5. Complete hanger by tying the two ends of the first ribbon together.

6. Hang it up to dry.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Soundtrack: I go chic-chickie-boom-chic-chickie-boom-

When I was a kid I thought nightclubs would be like Ciro's in "Hollywood Steps Out", or like the Coconut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, or like the Copacabana in Manhattan (Actually, the Copacabana still exists, but it is nothing like it used to be. Now its just another loud bar.) But more than anything my understanding of nightclubs was based on what I saw on "I Love Lucy". Perhaps you remember that Desi worked at a nightclub. Well, in a few episodes of the show we got to see inside that nightclub.

I can not tell you how disappointed I was the first time I was in Manhattan (I was 17) and went to a nightclub. It was nothing like what I was expecting. There were no tuxedos anywhere in sight, no showgirls, no conga drums, no live music, no floor show. I was looking for Artie Shaw, Gene Krupa, Desi Arnaz, Cab Calloway, Les Brown, and Billy Eckstine performing live with their orchestras. Well, not really them, but their heirs.

There was an attempt to revive that kind of night club. In San Francisco, in the mid 90s a place called the Coconut Club opened. Unfortunately, it was tied to closely to the swing fad of those years. When the fad went away so did the Coconut Club. In Sunnyvale, there was club open about the same time. It was called the Palace. Men were required to be in ties and jacket. Blue jeans were verboten. I only went once (It was very expensive), but it was almost like being at Desi's nightclub, but much bigger; not as big as the old Coconut Grove in L.A., though. They had live music. (I danced the Cha Cha Cha, but not this good.) But Silicon Valley is not a good place for nightclubs, and they closed their doors. Sometimes, Bimbo's in San Francisco has events that seem like they were brought forward in time from the 1930s, 1940s, or 1950s. But not often.

My brother and I talked about opening nightclub once. But he got married and that was the end of of that. It probably wouldn't have worked out. He is more of a Margaritaville and Cabo Wabo guy.

Anyway, here is the clip of the song. I suppose most people today associate the song with Jim Cary's movie "The Mask", but Desi was first. Sometimes, when walking down the sidewalk this song pops in to my head and I have to add a little Latin motion to my walk.

May I draw your attentionto this article?

The Wall Street Journal (in my opinion, the best American news paper) has published a story about the students at Newcomers High School in Queens, New York, where all of the students are recent immigrants.

Newcomers High School also has students who, like the Pilgrims, came to the U.S. seeking freedom of worship. A boy who says he's from Tibet notes that his family "couldn't practice the religion of the Dalai Lama" in China. An Indonesian girl, who is Christian, tells of being persecuted by Muslims in her neighborhood and fearing for her safety. An Egyptian, also a Christian, says she feared being kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. "We wanted to close all the bad pages of memory . . . and start a new page." (Read the whole story here.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Prayer

"Life-giving and merciful Trinity, receive my thanksgiving for all Your goodness. Make us worthy of Your blessings, so that, we may enter into the joy of our Lord, forever exulting in the shout of victory: Haleluja!" - Ode 13, Akathist to the Lord Jesus Christ


The following words (I copied them from were read every year during the Thanksgiving liturgy at Holy Trinity Cathedral by the late Archpriest Victor Sokolov.
Father Alexander Schmemann celebrated the divine liturgy for the last time on Thanksgiving Day. This was particularly appropriate since Father Alexander had devoted his whole life to teaching, writing and preaching about the Eucharist; for the word eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving. At the conclusion of the liturgy, Father Alexander took from his pocket a short written sermon, in the form of a prayer, which he proceeded to read. This was a strange occurrence since Father never wrote his liturgical homilies, but delivered them extemporaneously. These were his words, which proved to be the last ever spoken by him from the ambo in Church.

"Everyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation and eternal joy.

Thank You, O Lord, for having accepted this Eucharist, which we offered to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which filled our hearts with the joy, peace and righteousness of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, O Lord, for having revealed Yourself unto us and given us the foretaste of Your Kingdom.

Thank You, O Lord, for having united us to one another in serving You and Your Holy Church.

Thank You, O Lord, for having helped us to overcome all difficulties, tensions, passions, temptations and restored peace, mutual love and joy in sharing the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, O Lord, for the sufferings You bestowed upon us, for they are purifying us from selfishness and reminding us of the "one thing needed;" Your eternal Kingdom.

Thank You, O Lord, for having given us this country where we are free to Worship You.

Thank You, O Lord, for this school, where the name of God is proclaimed.

Thank You, O Lord, for our families: husbands, wives and, especially, children who teach us how to celebrate Your holy Name in joy, movement and holy noise.

Thank You, O Lord, for everyone and everything.

Great are You, O Lord, and marvelous are Your deeds, and no word is sufficient to celebrate Your miracles.

Lord, it is good to be here! Amen."

(The Orthodox Church, Vol. 20, No. 2, February 1984, p. 1:1)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Uh Oh

I think Athanasia just realized that our name is on the Prop 8 donor list. She asked for a key to the shotgun.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things I Thought were True

This morning I had the displeasure of finding out that we no longer hang pirates. This is important because just a few days ago I explained to Anselm Samuel that we did hang pirates. I also explained that he is not allowed to play that he is a pirate, but that he could play the brave naval captain fighting against pirates. (All of this was brought about by watching the classic Oscar winning swashbuckler movie, The Black Swan, in which some pirates turn their lives around and, under the flag of the king, work for law and order on the high seas.)

This has caused me to reflect that over the last 10 years many of the things I thought were true hadn't been true for a century or more. For example, it used to be that an employee protecting the body or property of his employer was almost completely immune from prosecution for inflicting damage on an attacker. (Recently, in California, a gardener was sent to prison for breaking the jaw of a burglar who was stealing from the gardener's employer.) But today this is not the case. This morphing of the law is very bothersome to me. Now laws are more complicated. And in being more complicated, less predictable, and thus more dangerous.

I do not think everything in the 19th Century was good. But at least pirates knew they faced death for their crimes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Letter to St. Nicholas

Anselm Samuel Wrote a letter to St. Nicholas today.

Dear St. Nicholas,

I live in California. Please pray for me and my brother Basil. Please bring Candy on Dec. 6. And I will be waiting for you.

Love Anselm.

As he was addressing the letter (San Nicola, Basilica di San Nicola, Piazza di San Nicola, Bari, Vecchia, Italia) he said, "St. Nicholas' body is dead. Will he understand when the monks read it to him?" I answered, "He knew what you wrote as soon as you wrote it." Anselm laughed and said, "Oh Yeah. He's a saint!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pop Culture

"Pop culture’s assault on beauty is too wide-ranging to elucidate here. “Pop” may be “popular” abbreviated, but it also calls to mind brands like Coke and Pepsi—producers of something fizzy, sweet, briefly stimulating, and rotten in the long-term. Pop culture is junk culture. Its invitation is not to “savor life” but rather to exploit it for the sake of instant gratification. It is designed, manufactured and marketed to be consumed and thrown away."

The whole essay is fabulous, and much deeper than this quote. I just like the way the author links junk food to pop-culture. You can read the whole thing here.

Before you click on that link, here ia another quote from the article and an observation.

"When I attend evening mass on Sunday, the music is often a watered-down version of folk rock. It’s John Denver 1ite, which wouldn’t seem possible but there it is. Pastors and youth ministers, understandably eager to entice teenagers to church, pander to what they perceive as the “taste” of the younger generation....The folksy liturgy is supposed to appeal to the younger generation. It’s supposed to make the mass “more accessible.” This is condescending to kids who know better. Recall that the only people who stopped to listen to Joshua Bell play classical music [in the subway during rush hour] were under the age of ten, and then ask yourself who has the more sophisticated taste. Going to church must offer us something that we do not get from the wider culture or else what’s the point? It’s the sacred liturgy. Treating it as a diluted rock concert is silly, for the simple reason that somewhere else in town (or even at home on a pair of headphones) any kid can experience a better rock concert."

For a brief time I was the leader of a small group at PBCC (Wow! That is is really hard to imagine.) and I took my group of people, all in their 20s to visit an enormous youth group (500 to 600 teenagers) in Santa Cruz one night. There was a band leading the congregation in the expected Christian rock songs. But hardly anyone was singing along, many talking with each other and flirting (For the record, I am in favor of teenagers flirting in church. It is the safest and best place for it.) Just before the preacher stood up they sang a 1200 year old Orthodox hymn. For that song - beautiful, slow and without instrumentation - everyone paid attention, and sang solemnly and thunderously.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Standing, Kneeling, Prostrating

Anselm Samuel asked me today why we kneel and prostrate when we pray at home but not on Church at Sundy. Isn't that a great question? I was able to exlpain the Canon 20 Nicea and Canon 90 Trullo and how we obey the Canons of the councils. I was able to talk about repentence and celebration, preparation and fulfilment, dieing to orselves and ber raised with Jesus. I've never read the Trullo Canons, but I remembered reading something about it a couple of years ago on the Antiochian's website. I found it again today.

How come on Sunday at the Divine Liturgy some people kneel in church and some don't? (Dec. ’02)

Let us look to the First Ecumenical Council in Nicea (325 AD). The 20th Canon which states that on the Lord’s day (Sunday) and from Easter through Pentecost all must pray standing and not kneeling. Canon 90 from the Council in Trullo (692 AD) reinforces Canon 20 from Nicea and specifies that the celebration of the Resurrection on Sunday begins with the entrance at Vespers on Saturday evening through the entrance at Vespers on Sunday evening. We don’t kneel because kneeling is a posture of repentance. On that day we are not repenting, but celebrating the Resurrection.

During the week it is appropriate to kneel as an act of repentance and faithfulness. Since many Orthodox Christians don’t attend liturgical services throughout the week, the practice developed in many parishes to kneel on Sunday at the Divine Liturgy during the Consecration of the Gifts. It has become an act of piety for some and an act of following the crowd for others.

Ideally, we would have the opportunity to participate in the daily cycle of church services, but very few of our parishes offer them. In our daily prayer life, when possible, we ought to assume a kneeling posture for prayer as a humbling gesture before God. Then on Sundays, we would feel the obligatory desire to kneel but would piously stand in reverence throughout the service.

Also, I might add that the normative postures for prayer in the Orthodox Church are standing or kneeling — not sitting. Seats were available for the elderly and infirm in our mother churches. It wasn’t until the Protestant influence in America, that Orthodox churches adopted the regular use of pews. The Protestants had the pews due to the lengthy sermons, which are the focal part of their services.

Saturday Soundtrack: Then He Smiled At Me

When I was a small boy I would listen to my mother's Christmas records all year long. My favorite was the one published by the Firestone tire company. (For my younger readers, there was a time when many big companies had an orchestra or choir. Those that didn't would, at least, sponsor some other musicians who would produce records with the sponsors logo prominently featured on the cover. Both Firestone and Goodyear used to realse albums of Christmas carols and songs.) This Firestone record was my favorite because it had "The Little Drummer Boy" on it. I would thrill every time I heard the words, "Then he smiled at me." Isn't that our goal? To hear "Well done, thou good and faithful servant"?

The clip below is from a "classic" televsion show. I think I saw it every year up until I was a teenager. I don't know if they still show it on television or not. I bought it on DVD so my kids can watch it on the computer.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos

Consider how the Theotokos entered the Holy of Holies; not by suddenly appearing in that awsome room, but by ascending step by step, room by room. Thus is our ascent to holiness. As the prophet Isaiah said, "For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little". We do not attain the true knowlede of God, which is holiness, in a flash but only by struggle, only by constant movement onward and upward.

Non, Possumus.

I was thinking about going hunting on the second weekend of January, and I thought Basil might enjoy seeing all the taxadermied animals, so we went to the gun store the other day.

I asked for a box of 00 buckshot and was told, "We sold out the day after the election. The largest load we have is #6 birdshot". I was kind of flabergasted. And the phenomenon, it seems, was not restricted to that one store. Every merchant in entire county is out of buckshot.

So, I bought a box of #6 birdshot and will see if I can't talk someone into going quailing with me. (Yes I know #7 1/2 is recommended for quail, but I might use these for turkey, too.)

Oh, yes. Basil did like the animals, especially the ibex. He did not like the lion, which was, he thought, scarry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Peer Pressure

Last night at the Cub Scout Pack meeting, Anselm Samuel told me he wants to be a Roman Catholic. Really. That is what he said. What prompted this utterance is that Anselm saw me holding the Roman Catholic religious award work books (I'm the pack's religious activities coordinator), and has noticed that most of his fellows are Roman Catholic. (In the whole pack there are only 4 non-Roman Catholics.), and has not yet seen the Orthodox medal or book. (For Orthodox Christian Cub Scouts it is the St. George Award, pictured above.) I can't wait to get that book and the medal so Anselm can get to work on it.

If anyone knows any Orthodox Christian boys (age 6 to 10) in the Willow Glen area of San Jose let me know how to get in touch with them. I'd like to recruit them into the pack.

Simple and Good

One ting that is difficult for me during the fast, and I bet I'm not the only one, is making simple food. I am often tempted to make more complicated meals using various fast-friendly substitutes. But that detracts from the benefits of the fast. Two simple meals that take little time and are pretty good are as follows:

On oil days: spaghetti, garlic (or chopped green onions), salt, pepper, olive oil.

On non-oil days: Put a hunk of old hard bagguette in a bowl and pour hot vegetable stock over it. During the fasts always have a box or two of vegie stock in the cabinet.

On fish days: Well those are feast days so don't try to be simple and plain. Besides there are only a couple (Fish for St. Herman, right? No?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Miraculous Icon to Visit San Francisco

I received an email from a priest at the Geary Street Cathedral about a miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon that will be visiting San Francisco.

Christ is in our midst!

Dear brothers & sisters,

On Friday November 21st at 6:30 pm our Cathedral will be visited by the Hawaii Iveron Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Holy Theotokos!

Everyone is welcome to come!

Our address: 2005 15th Street, San Francisco CA 94114.

To learn more about the icon go to http://orthodoxhawa html
and http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Theotokos_ Iverskaya

1. 6 30 pm - meeting of the Icon.
2. 6 40 pm - prayer of supplication and akathist.
3. Sermon.
4. Veneration of the Icon (please bring zip-lock snack bags that you'll be carrying the small copy of the Icon & Q-tip that you'll be annointed with. To be taken home.)
5. Cup of tea. Reader Nectarios will answer all questions about the Icon..
6. Leaving of the Icon.

Yours in Christ,
priest Andrey Kovalev.

So, the obvious question is, are we to be annointed by the myrrh that flows from the Icon? If so, WOW!!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Church is Catholic

I looked around my parsih yesterday and saw something my Dad would have loved. He often preached (for new readers, my Dad was a pentecostal preacher for more than 50 years.) against peer-group churches. He didn't like churches that only had young people. He didn't like churches that only had people from the same economic strata. Why would he have loved what I saw in my parish yesterday? Because there were very rich people, very poor people, new converts, old (I mean thousand year old) Orthodox families, three Kenyan women, lots of old people, many many children under 10. Then there are those who serve in the Altar: Our priest is Japanese, three of our acolytes are Eritrean, two are the children of European immigrants, one id my son, one subdeacon is from Nigeria, one reader is tall, blond, broadshouldered, and youthful; the sterotypical californian. The other reader is old, crooked, and fled war in the Horn of Africa. One subdeacon is a psychologist, another is a cop, another is a painter. Our deacon is an engineer. Bankers and laborers, those with education and those without, hale and infirm, young and old, from four continents. But one Gospel. One Chalice. Ond Cross. One King.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In case you've been wondering, yes, today is the feast my heavenly patron, the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew

The Epistle for St. Matthew's Day:
For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. (1 Corinthians 4:9-16)

The Gospel for St. Matthew's Day:
As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. (Matthew 9:9-13)

Troparion (In Tone 3):
With zeal, you followed Christ the Master,
who in His goodness, appeared on earth to mankind.
Summoning you from the custom house,
He revealed you as a chosen apostle:
the proclaimer of the the Gospel to the whole world!
Therefore, divinely eloquent Matthew,
we honor your precious memory!
Entreat merciful God that He may grant our souls remission of transgressions.

Kontakion (In Tone 4):
Casting aside the bonds of the custom house for the yoke of justice,
you were revealed as an excellent merchant, rich in wisdom from on high.
You proclaimed the word of truth
and roused the souls of the slothful
by writing of the hour of Judgment.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Its On!!!

Much goodness and joy. After the kick off meal of crab, shrimp, brussels sprouts, San Pelegrino, and a 2006 Parducci sauvignon blanc(my fave non-bubbly white wine at the moment) we gathered around the icons, sang O Heavenly King" and read Genesis 3:1-15. And then we talked about what it meant.

I asked Anslem Samuel some questions about the facts of the story, a story he has heard hundreds of times, and he answered them. Then I began to explain what it meant. When I asked him what Gen. 3:15 meant he said he didn't know so Iexplained it to him. This prompted his mother to say "Every day I feel like we are getting closer and closer to having to talk about the birds and bees, and I'm not ready for that." I thought that was very funny.

One thing I noticed tonight, and I am a little suprised I hadn't noticed it before now, is that the very day Adam and Eve sinned he showed up to help them and give them the promise of a redeemer. Isn't that just like God?

Anyway, it is very important to me that the boys not grow up thinking that we do all the stuff we do just because we are Orthodox and that is what Orthodox do. I want them to know why we hold our hands the way we do when we make the sign of the Cross, why that bottom cross bar is tilted, why only clergy touch the altar, why the eggs are dyed red, and why we fast before the feast of the Nativity. So tonight I said this...

"For thousands and thousands and thousands of years we waited in darkness for that Seed, Jesus to be born. And we fast every year before Christmas to remind oursleves of that waiting. It is our way of reliving that long wait. Just as the Feast of the Nativity is our way of remembering that Jesus was born, the Nativity Fast is our way of remembering that long wait."

After that it was a zip up to San Francisco (traffic was horrible!) to receive the Holy Mystery of Confession and then home. (Anselm Samuel is sick so Athanasia stayed at home with the boys.)

While driving home I was tinking about Gen.3:15 and how in those years between that day and the birth of Jesus, and how God, like a horticulturist breeding the perfect plant, had tended the bloodlines that produced Mary, the one who would be His own Mother. And I wrote a poem. Forgive me, it isn't very good, and seems a little limricky. Maybe, when I'm done with school I'll take the idea and try to shape it into better meter and rhyme.

Wild plants, vines without stakes
Fiberous, crooked, and tough
A gardner chose hard labor
He pruned and croseed and watched
And after many years
The gardener crossed two plants
From that pair a flower grew
From that flower, alone, The Seed.

Such a Strange Song: Saturday Saoundtrack

In the years before cable television spread to every corner of the suburbs, KBHK Channel 44, broadcating from Sutro Tower high above Twin Peaks, was every San Francisco Bay area kid's best friend. Every weekday afternoon they broadcast several hours of cartoons followed by reruns of Leave it to Beaver, the Brady Bunch, and Batman. On Saturday mornings KBHK broadcast a local professional wrestling show called BigTime Wrestling. It was alwways broacast "live from the Cow Palace", and followed by "The Monster Mash", which was what they called their weekly horror movie. But this was in the days before the slasher movies of the 1980s, so they weren't very horrifying. The Blob, Santa Calus Conquers the Martians, and Creature from the Black Lagoon were about as frightening as the movies got. And following that was usually an Abbot & Costello, Shirley Temple, or Bowery Boys movie. As I am sure you have figured out, if you have a compilation alum of forty of the strangest songs ever to appear on the pop charts, you are going to want to get Wolfman Jack to pitch it for you on KBHK.

In 1977 I begged my mother to buy me that 3 LP set called "40 Funky Hits",and, believe it or not, she did. Now, every once in a while I have this song by the Trashmen pop into my head. And once, at a nightclub in San Francico at least 30 years after this song was a hit, the band on stage, all to young to have been alive when it was on the radio, started playing the song. Astoundingly, and I kid you not, every single person in the place started dancing the pony, the twist, the swim AND SINGING ALONG!!! They all must have begged their moms for the album, too!

The song has ben covered by the Ramones and the Cramps, and even appeard in Stanley Kubrik's Full Metal Jacket. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, may I present the most perfect high energy dance song ever recorded: "The Bird is the Word" by the Trashmen!

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Local Paper Covers the News of Metropolitan Jonah's Election

What I want to know is how was this even on the reporter's radar screen?

"SANTA CRUZ - A UC Santa Cruz graduate has been named archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America and Canada.

"Bishop Jonah Paffhausen, who graduated from UCSC after founding an Orthodox Christian Fellowship on campus, was named Wednesday to the top post at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh. After he is installed by the Holy Synod of Bishops at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington next month, he will oversee an American church membership of at least 500,000." (Read Whole Story Here)

No Wellies for Me?

Athanasia, the boys, and I are going to Yosemite for a few days during the Feast of the Nativity but I do not have appropriate footwear. In fact, since snowboots are the appropriate footwear, but I am in the snow no more than 15 days in any decade, I really do not want appropriate footwear. I want rubber Wellingtons. They are much more practicle for me and should be convenient for turkey hunting in the spring. Finding boots in my size should be no problem, right? Wrong. My feet are extremely wide. I have been told that I have cave man feet, paddles, hooves, etc. This is a problem because, though the best compnay (That is Hunter, a U.K. firm.) makes rubber wellies for wide calfs, they do not make rubber wellies for wide feet. After much searching, it seems that no one does. Oh, well. I guess, I'll just have to tie plastic garbage bags over my deer skin oxfords.

St. Philip's Day

Today is the Feast of St. Phillip, who was a disciple of St. John the Forerunner, and, later, a disciple and Apostle of Jesus. After Jesus Ascension, St. Philip (remember this is not St. Philip the Deacon) preached in Galilee, Greece (concentrating his efforts on the devout jews in the synagogues), and Persia. He was crucified in the Phrygian city of Hieropolis following a confrontation with the servants of a snake god.

St. Philip's feast is not a major feast, but has taken on a certain importance in the mind of the Orthodox, as it is the harbinger of the Nativity Fast (AKA Advent). At Church we don't do much to recognize the season, the the liturgical expression of Advent only lasts for two weeks. This is very much unlike Great Lent in the spring which starts off with many services and keeps them up for the length of that fast. So the Nativity Fast is different. It is a time for the little church in each Christian house to step up and live the life of Christ more brillianly. This is accomplished in many different ways.

In my house we'll start tomorrow by reading the account of the fall and the protoevangelium from Genisis. And we'll light a candle in the window. Of course, we'll also eat some crabs to mark the beginning of the relative (to Great Lent) joyfullness of this particular fast. Every few days we'll add more to what we do. By Christmas Eve, the house shall be decorted, many books shall have been read, alms shall have been given (Oh! There are so many people who need. I wish I was a rich man so I could help them all.), and much incense offered. Confession and Communion are part of every fast, of course. Hopefully, with God's help, we will be more like Jesus by the end of the Fast and ready to more perfectly celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, and be closer to being able to endure to the end like St. Philip.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I took a break from school work and watched Ben Stein's Expelled.

I agree with the critics who say it is propoganda. But I don't think that is a bad thing. Propaganda for truth is very different from propaganda for falsehood. It is clear from the very beginning that Stein and the other filmmakers had taken on the role of propagandists. They were not trying to hide it. They forthrightly and honestly said, Darwinism is evil. In addition to thinking it was propaganda, I thought it was pretty good propaganda in that it allowed the Darwinists to speak for themselves and show themselves to be inconsistent at best and loons at worst. When Dawkins , in reference to the obviousness of the design of organisms, said ID couldn't be true but alien seeding could be true I just about fell out of my chair because he had just admitted that ID could be true. It was astounding.

Now here is the part that surprised me buy, I guess, shouldn't have. It seemed to me that most of the Darwinists really hated God and built their science to destroy beliefe in God. Not as I had assumed would be the case, that their science lead them to reject God. No it was the rejection of God that made them embrace Darwin.

Not easy to balance

"We must be super-conservative in preserving the Orthodox faith, but super-modern in propagating it." - St. Nikolai Velimerovich

All Piles Are Atomic

This Guy Cracks Me UP!

Hmmmm. This is weird.

My Dad was an Oakie. My Mom, from Missouri. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and Tampa, Florida. How in the world do I get results like this? And just for the record, I call all carbonted bevreages by their brand name(e.g. Coke, Mr. Pibb), or most specific generic name (e.g. cream soda, tonic water). I never call them "pop".

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Northeast
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mission Control, we have a Metropolitan.

Well, it is wonderful news. The Orthodox Church in America has a Metropolitan. I haven't had a lot of interaction with him. I've only seen him a couple of times. I know my bishop has a lot of confidence in him. And I knew he was much respected by the two priests who brought me into the Orthodox Church. Oh, I remember this story, too.

We were on a pilgrimage and a priest was acting a little bossy and show-offy about enforcing a certain rule. I remember Abbot Jonah (he is a real monk, formed by years in a monastery, not just a priest who becomes a monk the day before his consecration as bishop. Though there have been many fine bishops, such as St. Ambrose of Milan, who were not monks before they were chosen as bishops.) not contradicting his superior, who was certainly correct, but looking a little embarrassed that a priest was acting that way. A little while later another priest refered to Abbot Jonah as "Bishop Jonah". I asked, "Is that prophecy"? The priest answered, "At this point let's just call it supporting a cause." And that is about all I knew about him until last night when I listend to his speech on behalf of the Holy Synod.

The context for the speech was a situation of grave sin, an embarrassed Holy Synod, and demoralized laity and clergy. The Bishops had been asked many questions in writing and had answered some of them. In my opinion, and it is just mine, some people went to the Council ready to spit on the bishops. It can only have been a tense time. Then Bishop Jonah, who had only been a bishop for 10 days stood before the council and spoke for Jesus.

Click here to hear his speech. It is worth listening to.

That was yesterday. Today this most junior bishop in the Orthodox Church in America (probably the most junior in the world) was chosen to be the most senior bishop in America. Now listen to him today.

I can not begin to tell you how happy this makes me.

Update on Sausage

First of all, it takes a lot longer than the videos below show. They were experienced and had an electric grinder and stuffer. I have an an antique cast iron hand cranked meat grinder witht a dull blade. I also have 6 and 3 year old helpers. We all participated in the making of it. What the videos I posted a couple of days ago show taking about 15 minutes really takes several hours.

Anselm Samuel and Basil Wenceslas peeled garlic and turned the handle on the grinder. Athanasia mixed the ingredients (pork, salt, garlic, sage, paprika),turned the handle on the grinder as we were stuffing, and she also cooked a little bit and tasted it before we stuffed it into the casings. I did all the knife work, and filled the casings while others (mainly Athanasia) turned the handle. At this point, we have 8 lbs of beutiful sausages in the freezer. They shall remain there until just before we leave for Church on the Eve of the Nativity. They should be thawed and ready to cook by the time we get out of bed the next morning.

Cleaning the casings was fun. Anselm asked, "Are those some kind of special plastic?" I said, "No. They're pig intestines". His reaction was very funny. Basil said, "I like pig intestines". What I think he liked is that they looked like water baloons when I was washing all the salt out of them. He kept wanting to play with them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Closest Friend

It has been said that countries don't have friends, only interests. I think that is wrong. Throughout the history of the United States many wars, one nation has joined with us time and time again to defeat out enemies. Of course, we were allies in WWI and WWII, but also in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait/Iraq, Iraq & Afghanistan. But they serve by our side in hundreds of other smaller missions, too. And often, they take on the thankless job of peacekeeping missions that America needs done but, for political reasons, is unable to do.

So, on this Veterans Day, or as you call it, Remembrance Day, I say God Bless Australia, God Save the Queen, and may he remember all Australia's fallen heroes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Making Sausage

Pork butt - check
Grinder - check
Knives - check
Bowls - check
Spices - check
Casings - check

We're making SAUSAGE!!!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

So, is it just me, or does anyone else think the first woman is half tanked?

Don't Throw Our Love Away: Saturday Soundtrack

For the kind of music it is, this is a great song. It also appears in a funny scene in the movie More American Grafitti, which is where I first heard it when I was 10 or 11 years old.

An interesting thing to me is that, in a way, this film helped me understand so many of the people in my life. I was living in Ukiah, surrounded by both straights and weirds. The little town of 12,000 people, just 2 hours north of San Francisco had hippies, draft-dodgers, lumber jacks, veterans, health food pioneers, saw mill workers, witches, Christians, Hare Krishnas, pot growers, boy scouts, business people, and farmers. (It used to be the "pear capital of the world" but the pear trees have been ripped out for wine grapes.) Looking back, one of the things I think is fascinating, is that all of these different kinds of people lived together and often, at least it seemed so to me, had no idea what was going on with the kinds of people not like themselves. That's what this song reminds me of. Not because of anything in the song, but because of how the song was used in the movie. If you haven't seen the movie, maybe you should. I haven't seen it since 1980 or 1981, but if I remember it correctly, it gives a pretty good explanation of how America got to where it is today.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Saw Three Ships

Beginning sometime between The Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos and St. Nicholas Day, Athanasia and I begin reading childrens' Christmas books aloud to our boys. Usually two or three each day. We read a lot of mediocre books. About 40% I think of as filler. They aren't bad, they just aren't good. I wouldn't recommend them to you. About 50% are good. 10% are amazing and we wind up buying them, instead of just checking them out of the library. One such amazing book is I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge (author) and Margot Tomes (illustrator).

Most of the time, when a well-meaning person takes a Christmas song or carol and turns it into a book they fail in originality; the book being wooden, predictable, and boring. This book is not like that. Though it follows the words of the song meticulously, it is a fresh but timeless story. It used to be that I would hear the song and think, "What is this about?" Now, when I hear the song, I think of this book and, even though the story was written a hundred years after the song, I can not imagine the song being about anything but the story in this book. I won't go into a lot of detail in describing the book, except to say there are layers of experience, unexpected persons, surprising behaviors, and by the time you close it there will be a tears in your eyes. Oh, the reason I am telling you about it now, more than a week before the Nativity Fast even starts is that it is out of print, and there are only three copies left on Amazon.

Update (8:37 am PST, 6 Nov 08): Now there are only 2 left.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I think we all know the St. Nicholas' Day, St. Catherine's Day, and St. Lucy's Day traditions, but there are five Advent Saints who are really big deals who, as far as I know, have no celebratory traditions. So, does anyone know of any special ways (I mean other than a Divine Liturgy) to celebrate Ss. Matthew, Ambrose, Ignatius, Spyridon, and Herman? And other than eating fish, are there any customs that go with the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos?

Gluhwein: Something to be happy about on this dark day

It might be a little early in the year for this, but I'm cold, and well.... I won't go into it.

This is a fabulous German version of the British mulled wine. Enjoy.


4 quarts cheap red wine
1 pint brandy (other liquors CAN NOT be substituted. Gin is right out.)
1 cup granulated sugar (do not use sugar cubes or powdered sugar!!!)
6 cinnamon sticks, crumbled but not ground
16 cloves, whole
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp mace
Juice of 1 ripe valencia orange


Pour the wine into a large pot and begin heating over low heat.
As it begins to warm, add sugar and spices. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add the brandy.
Add the orange juice.
Simmer for one hour but DO NOT BOIL.
Serve hot.

It beats civil war

And that is just about the only good thing I can say about this election. Well, I am also very proud of us that we we've been doing this for so long. The most powerful man in the country is watching his successor being chosen, and he knows his days in office are comming to an end. Even if he wanted to stay on, no soldier would pick up arms to keep him in office. Even though the military is about to get a Commander-in-Chief who doesn't understand them, doesn't appreciate them, and will probably abuse them, they will accept him. There isn't even a question about it. At least, I can be thankful for that.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sing Hosana: Saturday Soundtrack

This is a little diferent from my usual Saturday Soundtrack posting, but this is a song I sang every week in Sunnyvale Christian School's (It was called Southbay Christian School when it closed its doors forever in 2002) chapel service, and I imagine several million children sing it every week all over the English-speaking world. What brought it to mind today is what brings it to mind every couple of days: I tended the lampada hanging in front of the icon of Jesus. Interestingly, until I had this lampada I had no idea how much oil a lamp needs, it requires refilling about every 2 days. If I let it burn through the night it would require filling every day. There is a lesson there, but you know what it is so I won't elaborate.

There were many videos of the song on youtube. This one is by an outfit called Greenbelt Beer n Hymns. I think they've had a bit of beer since the words seem not completely clear. But the song always starts out with..

"Give me oil in my lamp keep me burnin
Give me oil in my lamp I pray
Give me oil in my lamp keep me burnin, burnin, burnin
Keep me burning till the break of day"

There are other verses such as "love in my heart" and "praise in my mouth", but the kids in chapel liked "gas for my ford/keep me truckin for the Lord" and "Wax for my board/keep me surfin for the Lord" the most.

Cool Interactive Painting of St. Nicholas

Check this out. All you have to do is move the cursor over the painting (start in the lower left corner) and you can see the whole life of St. Nicholas.