Friday, July 31, 2009

The Prospects

I made the line thirty minutes. If it takes 30 or more minutes, according to Google Maps, to get there from our address it was not put on the list. We know very little about most of these parishes. We have visited four of them in the past. We have friends in two of them.

One thing that is worth considering is the ancient practice of Christians in Constantinople, that is attending a different parish on every feast day and Sunday. I don't know. Probably not.

The parishes are listed in time order, with the name of the bishop responsible for the parish.

St. Nicholas
Metropolitan Gerasimos
10 minutes

St. Stephen
Bishop Joseph
14 minutes

St. Nicholas
Bishop Benjamin
15 minutes

Christ the Savior
Bishop Joseph
16 minutes

St. Basil
Metropolitan Gerasimos
18 minutes

St. James
Archbiship Theodosios
18 minutes

Archangel Michael
Bishop Maxim
19 minutes

St. Herman
Bishop Theodosios
20 minutes

Protection of the Holy Virgin Mary
Bishop Theodosios
26 minutes

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Breaking Away

We tried leaving once before but failed. Well, this time we are really going to do it. We are going to leave Holy Trinity Cathedral. We've finally concluded that we aren't ever going to move back to San Francisco. (It makes me so sad to say that. It is the only place I have ever wanted to live. At least I was able to live there for a couple of years.) Its been about six years since we moved away from there. Which means it has been six years of spending 1.5 hours (when we lived in Mountain View) to 3 hours (now that we live in Willow Glen) in the car every time we went to church. Sometimes even longer than that if we couldn't find a place to park and hand to circle the block and hunt all over the neighborhood. Often, like last week, we missed church altogether because a place to park couldn't be found.

So, anyway, Archpriest John has given us his blessing to begin a search for a new parish. At the top of the list is St. Nicholas in Saratoga, but we will be checking out St. Basil Church in San Jose and a few others. We are not happy about this change in parishes. The people, the relics of many saints, the clergy, the bells, the icons, the history, even the smell of the building are all dear to me. One of the hardest things is that the last thing Fr. Victor said to me was "Matthew, Don't leave when I die". I hope all he meant was "Don't leave the Orthodox Faith." Athanasia walked around crying for a whole day when she wrote the letter to Archpriest John. There are tears on my cheeks as I type this. But we miss too many services and we worry for our children, they are being deprived of Grace. So, we are saying good-bye.

There is too much saying good-bye in this life; to parents, children, friends, pastors, parishes, even whole cities. This is why Abraham looked for that city who's builder and maker is God. He wanted permanence.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hot-Sweet Drumsticks

Tell me, does this make your mouth water or what?

You Light Up My Life: Saturday Soundtrack

I was in the second grade and still working on my sense of humor. I rewrote the words to You Light Up My Life, changing the words to indicate an intense desire to be left alone. The famous chorus I changed to:

You loused up my life.
You took my hope
and pushed me down
Below the waves
and filled my day
with gloom.

What I did not know was that many of the kids in my second grade class at Sunnyvale Christian School had been told that the original song was a bout God. (It wasn't. It was written as part of the soundtrack to a romantic comedy.) I was scolded by a teacher and sent to the office. I really hated being in school as a kid.

This is Debby Boone's Grammy Awards performance. The song was orignally recorded by Kasey Cisyk for the film You Light Up My Life, in which Didi Conn(Frency in Grease.) lyp-syncd it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Building Design Company After My Own Heart

Anyone who has read this blog for very long knows I have strong New Urbanist tendencies, that I love the architecture of old buildings, especially the arts & crafts style used by a lot of depression-era builders in California. I especially like I'On, even though the City wouldn't let them do mixed use. Recently, I came across a link to the website of the designer of the little Orthodox temple in I'On. All I can say is WOW!!! I bet you'll say wow, too. You'll love the pictures, but make sure you read the two essays on their website, too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Song of Penitence for Russia

In memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia and all the New-Martyrs of Russia murdered by the Bolsheviks.

Hat tip: Christ is in our Midst!


"There was a whole thousand years when the Church had multiple rites of praise to God. In fact, the irony is, the time when there were the most multiple rituals for the sacraments and the services was the time there was the greatest unity in doctrine and spiritual life, evangelism, etc. In any case, the ritual is not of the essence of the faith. Language isn’t, calendars are not… all those things are not part of the essence of the faith. But unless we have the desire for unity, which then would lead us to feel that we have an absolute obligation from God to distinguish between what is really essential and what is not, we are never going to be united." - Fr. Thomas Hopko

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No Camp, Vespers, and Reading a Good Book.

Friday morning Athanasia drove Anselm Samuel and I to Camp Chesebrough in the Santa Cruz Mountains for a two night Cub Scout camp. She dropped us off,we signed in, and and Anselm started playing a game with some other scouts while we were waiting for the opening ceremonies. The game was one I hadn't seen in more than 30 years. Boards were set in the ground to form a rectangle. Bisecting the rectangle was another board so that there were two 3 yard squares. The bisecting board had a slot cut in it to that a puck could be passed under the board. In each square stood a scout with a 4 foot long stick. I was never clear on what the rules were, and I'm not sure the scouts were either, but they had fun taking turns, and cheering when it wasn't their turn.

The opening ceremony consisted of four Webelos hoisting the flag and all of us pledging allegiance to it, and reciting the Cub Scout Motto and the Law of the Pack.

Then the Camp Director began introducing his staff. Just as he introduced the nurse Anselm sat down. I thought, "we haven't even been standing here 20 minutes. This isn't like him." I said, "Stand up, Anselm." He said, "I don't feel good." I looked at his face, uh oh - pale with dark shadows under his eyes. I felt his forehead - fire. I walked up to the nurse and said, "You're needed. A scout has a fever." So, to the nurses office we went. About three hours later, after his fever had broken (Tylenol helped), and after a snack, lots of water, and a short nap on the nurses bed, she cleared Anselm to return to the activities.

He made a walking stick with a leather handle. He learned the basics of rock climbing and climbed the easy and medium walls. The nurse met us at the climbing wall and took his temperature again. All clear. Then we walked to our camp site and started putting up our tent and arranging the camp site. I noticed Anselm was moving kind of slowly and I had to keep telling him to hurry so we wouldn't be late for the air rifle range. Then, just as we got the tent up he laid downon the ground and said, "I'm sick". Back down to the nurses office. Fever was back: 101 F. This time the nurse said he could not stay. So, I telephoned Athanasia and asked her to come get us, left Anselm at the nurses office and marched back up the hill to take down our tent and pack up all the gear. When I got back to the nurses office Anselm's fever was gone, but the nurse still said we had to leave because of a fear of swine flu.

Anselm was so sad. But just for showing up at camp and completing one activity he earned the Summer Cub Scout Camp patch, and the Camp Director said he can come back for day camps in August or October to attempt his archery and air-rifle belt loops. So that cheered him up a little.

Later, in the middle night his fever returned with vengence. I had to strip the bed clothes off of him and sponge him down with cool water while the fan blew on him. His whimpering and shivering was heartbreaking. But it had to be done. It took a long time but his temperature eventually came down.

Today, Saturday was pretty hot, though as I write this it feels like it is only 70 degrees outside. I went to the store and bought coffee, Bacon, and eggs. (By happy coincidence, my favorite egggs are also the least expensive.) When I got home from the market Athanasia cooked the bacon with potatoes and shallots. And she scrambled the eggs. We drank iced tea with it. It was a very good breakfast.

All day today Athanasia and the boys sat in the house with the blinds closed while the fans blew on them. Athanasia spent her time knitting Christmas presents, the boys mostly watched movies on the computer. (Sponge Bob seems to be their current fave.)

I did take Anselm to Nickle City to play video games and ski-ball for a little while. He won 355 tickets with which he bought two sets of orange vampire fangs (one set for him, one set for Basil), 5 rubber balls, and 35 Jolly Rancher candies.

I dropped Anselm off at home then went to visit my newest and niece. She was born a couple of days ago to my nephew Aaron's wife. The beautiful little girl has been named Roxy.

When I got home I had a big drink of water, checked on Athanasia and the boys, who all looked like wilted vegetables, and then set off to the dry cleaners to pick up the clothes I dropped off earlier in the week. They were closed. I won't be able to get my clothes until Monday.

From there I went on to vespers at St. Stephen's in Campbell. I got there about 35 minutes before the service was scheduled to start so I went around the corner to the Dairy Queen. It is nice to smell real hamburgers (as opposed to fast food hamburgers) on a grill, but it was too hot to eat. I only bought a large Pepsi. The service was vespers for the Sunday of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and had many excellent hymns and readings.

When I got home from vespers Athanasia told me Anselm's fever had returned. Also Basil was sad because he wanted to go to Vespers with me. Athanasia suggested I read to them. I asked "The Wind in the Willows?" Anselm chose two chapters, the one in which Mole goes into the Wild Wood to meet Badger, and the one in which Mole, Toad, Rat, and Badger retake Toad's ancestral home from the weasels and stoats. That cheered them up and then they went off to bed, which is what I shall do in just a moment.

Saturday Soundtrack: Johnny Appleseed Song

When I was in preschool my mother (she was a pre-school teacher) would call us all to the lunch table with a song about being hungry:

Hungry, hungry. I'm so hungry!
Table, table, here I come!
I could eat a moose-goose burger
Fifteen pickles and a purple plum!

But when were all standing in our places at the table we would sing the first verse of the Johnny Appleseed Song as a prayer before the meal.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I am no saint but this is what I have observed

Sincere Confession followed by Communion and continued meditation on the Gospel makes resisting temptation much easier than it otherwise would be. It's like getting three shots of Grace.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Soundtrack: Six Days

Like some other songs in the Saturday Soundtrack series, this number comes from that record my mom bought me in the early 1970s, "40 Funky Hits".

In a nutshell this is what the song is about: We are a big country. We have powerful machines. We're willing to do what needs to be done, even if it means wrecking our bodies and skirting around the law. Additionally, the good men among us are loyal to our wives even if they aren't around and the other guys are being unfaithful.

Oh, in case you are wondering, "Georgia overdrive" is trucker lingo for putting the transmission in neutral and coasting downhills. It is illegal but a lot of fun if the hills are steep enough. On our recent vacation Athanasia exceeded 80 mph using the Georgia Overdrive on I-680. Weeeee!!!

The singer is Dave Dudley and the song was a huge enormous hit for him in 1963. In the 1980's Dudley was elected to the Teamsters union and given a solid Gold membership card.

Jerry Brown: More complicated than you think he is

IN federal courts California Attorney General Jerry Brown is opposing Proposition 8, a fundamental constitutional law created by the sovereign power of the People of California and affirmed by the Supreme Court of California. In doing this he disregards his own oath of office that requires him to defend our Law in court. But yesterday, he filed an Amicus Curae brief (.pdf) with the Supreme Court of the United States, asking that Court to hear NRA v. Chicago in order to clear up disagreement between lower courts and decide in favor of the NRA because California, unlike other States has no statutory right to bear arms. Jerry Brown does not easily fit into any box.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Busy Week

We have had a busy week here at the apartments.
-Racoon trapping - they started hanging out by the pool at night. They were leaving little presents.
-Leased two vacant units (you will not believe how many phone calls and tours this takes)
-Preleased a unit that is not yet vacant (if she can prove her income.)
-2 malfunctioning dishwashers
-1 humid refrigerator
-1 broken exterior light fixture
-Had to talk to a neighbor about him feeding stray cats. They poop all over my apartment complex. I trap them and havethem destroyed (avg. price > $200 per cat.) I found out that he feeds the strays to control the rats that live in the ivy at the back of the property I manage. New solution: I put out rat bait stations, he stops feeding the cats. Ahhh diplomacy.

Additionally, we tried to buy a small apartment building that was being short-sold. Got the loan approved and made the offer only to find out the buyer had accepted an offer a couple of days before we made ours. I am totally relieved. I barely have time to do all the stuff I do now. How could I have managed a neglected building in a bad neighborhood? I was very troubled for the two days after the offer was made but before we found out we were too late. I am glad someone else bought it.

Athanasia has decided to work on a second Masters degree beginning in September. Stanford will pay for it. (That's a really nice benefit.) She's going to study disaster management. Sounds like fun!

Last night I went to a planning/information meeting for the Cub Scout camping trip next week. That was interesting. The council office lost our registration paper work. So, we're putting that back together now. I had a lot of questions from members of our pack that they wanted answered. I was able to get those answers at the meeting last night. So that was good. More and more I am impressed with the Boy Scouts. Such a neat organization and run almost entirely by volunteers.

Speaking of volunteers, Athanasia completed her training to be a Red Cross volunteer. So now, if someone's house burns down, or if there is a flood, or (God forbid!) another big quake my wife will be on site to help. Sometimes I wonder what I did to get her. God is amazingly good to me.

I've been reading my textbooks for the history degree I am starting next month. They are a lot of fun. I think I'm really going to enjoy this program.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I Suck

This morning is the fourth Sunday in a row that I have missed the Divine Liturgy. We left San Jose at 8:45 to be in San Francisco by 10. Since none of us could go to Communion this morning fasting wasn't a requirement. So, we stopped to get bagels to eat in the caronthe way. That took much longer than expected. Then cyndi wanted iced tea. Then there was a stop because Basil had to "go poop really bad". By this time we were only in Palo Alto and it was 10 A.M. Liturgy was starting and we were still 45 minutes away from San Francisco. So, we decided to pop into the church in Los Altos hills, the closest English speaking parish. Uh, oh. Everyone is in black suits for a panikhida. We are all dressed in light casual summer clothes. It would be disrespectful to the dead to go in dressed the way we were dressed, so, what next? The Russian-speaking church in Menlo Park? No, its in Russian, or Slavaonic. (I can't tell the difference.) Drive to Saratoga? Would the service still be going on when we got there? Oh, that problem was solved by puking in the back seat. It was 10:30 and we just drove back home. I failed.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Day: Saturday Soundtrack

I learned this song in pre-school and have been singing ever since. Well not the whole thing, just the part that goes:

I'm a Yankee Doodle dandy
Yankee Doodle do or die
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam
Born on the 4th of July
I have a Yankee Doodle sweetheart
She's a Yankee Doodle joy
Yankee Doodle came to town just to ride a pony
I am that Yankee Doodle boy

Congressional Gold Medal recipient George M. Cohan wrote the song in 1904, Jimmy Cagny sang it in the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1943.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A Busy Week

An interesting thing is going on here in Silicon Valley real estate. Prices for small multi family buildings are in the sink. For example, a duplex in San Jose that sold for 600,000 in 2006 sold this week for 320,000. But rents have fallen only about 10%. So, we have been looking to buy. We were approved for a loan on a tri-plex on Wednesday. But by the time we were finished getting everything together the building sold to a buyer for cash. The same thing happened with another building we looked at. But this last one we didn't even get the paper work started before someone else paid cash for it. The price was even bid up by several people throwing cash around. The seller's agent said,"I don't know where people are getting all this money. It's like they haven't heard there is a recession." So,we are still looking, but not as hopeful as we were last week. We might have to look for a multi-family in another city. I'm thinking a tri-plex or a 4-plex with only 2 bedroom units, within walking distance of a university. That will let us bring in more cash per unit but allow for roommate situations which makes renting easier. The only drawback will be haviIwe can manage it myself. But that might not be possible.

In other news, I began buying textbooks for grad school yesterday. That was much fun. Some I can get from the Stanford's Greene library. That is especially much fun. The Greene Library is an interesting building and the library is full of fascinating books. Also, it saves me seventy dollars.

Anselm Samuel and I went to see Yankee Doodle Dandy at the Stanford Theatre tonight. It was a really good movie. I had been singing many of the song in it my whole life but never knew their origin until tonight. When the film (an original print from 1942) was over Anselm declared to me while clapping very enthusiastically, "Dad that was a great movie" and then while we were swalking through the lobby toward the exit he said, "That was good. I'll give it five stars. If it were possible I'd give it a thousand." I think I have to agree with him.