Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Soundtrack: My Ten Least Favorite Christmas Pop Songs and my Favorite Christmas Pop Song

10.  Jingle Bell Rock - Really?  This is the best thing you can think of doing on Christmas?
9.  My Grown Up Christmas List - Wow! What a self-righteous trip this song's writer must have been on.
8.  It's a Marshmallow World - except for the live version with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin)
7. Christmas by the Bay - Well, yes, it is the best City in the world, but really, can't we think about someone other than ourselves on Christmas?
6. Santa Clause is Coming to Town  - What is a "rooty-toot-toot"?
5. Feliz Navidad - The is my son Basil's favorite Christmas song, and I dig the the whole South of the Border thing, but I think it's too repetitive.
4. Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney's worst song ever.  Someone, please, unplug that synthesizer.
3. My Favorite Things -  The Sound of Music is one of my all time fave plays, but this song isn't about Christmas.
2. Happy Christmas (War is Over) - What a dismal song.  It's like the opposite of Paul McCartney's Christmas song, but not in a good way.
1. Last Christmas - Isn't a song about the sex life of that guy from Wham! what you wan't to sing about on Christmas?

This is my fave Christmas pop song.  It contains the whole Gospel plus you can dance to it!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I don't know why, perhaps it is because someone recently challenged my practice of venerating Mary, saying the Orthodox Church's exaltation of her is a remnant of paganism, but tonight at the vigil I found this song very moving...

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
     More honourable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who in virginity didst bear God the Word; thee, true Mother of God, we magnify.
For He has regarded the humility of His handmaid. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
     More honourable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who in virginity didst bear God the Word; thee, true Mother of God, we magnify.
For He Who is mighty and Whose Name is holy has done wonders for me. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
     More honourable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who in virginity didst bear God the Word; thee, true Mother of God, we magnify.
He has shown His strength with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
     More honourable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who in virginity didst bear God the Word; thee, true Mother of God, we magnify.
He has put down princes from their thrones and has exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away.
     More honourable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who in virginity didst bear God the Word; thee, true Mother of God, we magnify.
He has taken Israel as His child in remembrance of His mercy, as He promised our fathers, Abraham and his sons forever.
     More honourable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who in virginity didst bear God the Word; thee, true Mother of God, we magnify.

Here it is in a slightly different translation but sung...

Eclipse, Welding, Advent, Book

Eclipse Welding Christmas Book

Athanasia and I woke the boys up early this morning, and we went out and watched the lunar eclipse.  We were able to see the last sliver of the moon  go dark just before it slipped below the clouds and fog on the Santa Cruz mountains.  Athanasia and the boys are back in bed now, but I'll wake them up in an hour so Anselm can get ready to go on his first hike with a Boy Scout Troop.  He is aWebelos now, and is making the transition from Cub Scout to Boy Scout.  I can hardly believe how fast these years are flying by.  It seems like yesterdy that he fisrt put on that blue uniform and said the Cub Scout Promise.

The other day my boss asked me if I know how to weld.  I had to tell him I don't know.  I hated that.  Sometimes I feel so useless at work.  I am sure that if it wasn't for my braun and enthusiasm they would have let me go a long time ago.  Anyway, I checked out a company called TechShop and am signed up to take welding classes when my company closes for the first week of Christmas.  I'm very excited about it.  In a couple of weeks, if my boss needs something welded I'll be able to do it.

We are reading The Advent Storybook again this year.  Every day of December Benjamin Bear opens another door on his Advent Calendar, and his mother tells a story about what he finds in the calendar.  The first day he opened a door and saw a star, so his mother began the story about a little bear who begins to follow the star to Bethlehem.   Each day the little bear encounters whatever Benjamin Bear finds in his advent calendar.  Each day, through pictures and words a little bit more of the Gospel is revealed.  Sometimes it is subtle, such as last night when the only hint of the Gospel was the number of men (three) traveling in a caravan  toward Bethlehem.  Other times it is more obvious.  It is a good book for our family.  The daily readings are short, and there are layers of meaning so Anselm Samuel picks up on stuff that Basil Wenceslas (he is six) doesn't, and then he explains it to Basil.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Popcorn Balls

Last night my god daughters and their parents came over.  It was a grand good time.  The kids made lanterns out of glass jars, and they made fairies out of pipe cleaners and artificial flowers.  They seemed to have a lot of fun. We mulled wine and cider.

Today after dropping Athanasia off at work and the boys off at school I was able to go to church for about an hour.  I was present for the end of Matins and the 1st half of the Divine Liturgy.  Then I had to leave to go to an appointment with a physician.

She said I'm doing better and the hole in my leg should be all healed in two more weeks if I can keep infection at bay.  I'm doing my best.

Athanasia made blue popcorn balls, in honor of the Theotokos' feast day today. She is the best mom.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Advent Wreath

Last Sunday, after the Divine Liturgy, Basil's Sunday School class made Advent wreaths.  Or, at least, started making Advent wreaths.  Today, Athanasia and the boys completed it with greenery from redwood, juniper, holly, pine, and orange trees.  I brought six candles home from church to put in the wreath.

Tonight as we shall for all six Sundays leading up to Christmas, we sung a little service at home.  

With all of us standing around the table, with the Advent wreath on the table, Basil Wenceslas lit the first candle. We faced the Icon and sang O Heavenly King, as Orthodox always do before lessons.

Then, sitting, I reminded the boys about our ancestors' expulsion from the garden and how they lost true wisdom and knowledge of God.  But I also told them that God was not content for us to have our minds darkened, and he promised to send a redeemer, the Messiah.  I read them the promise in Genesis 3:15, and explained that God repeated the promise, and even made a people, Israel, whose job it was, in part, to keep knowledge of that promise alive.  And we talked about how sometimes Israel didn't do a very good job and God sent prophets to remind them, and that lead us into Anselm Samuel reading the prophecy of Isaiah  

And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORDAnd shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.
And we talked about how Christ means anointed or chrismated, and that Jesus is called Christ, which in Hebrew is Messiah, because he is anointed with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Wisdom resides in him, and that with his wisdom he lifts the darkness from our minds and teaches us to be wise, not like our ancestors who gave up wisdom, that is fellowship with God for mere knowledge of good and evil, but wisdom born out of fear of God.

Then Athanasia prayed this English translation of the first O-Antiphon...
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, 
reaching from one end to the other mightily, 
and sweetly ordering all things: 
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Then we all sang this verse from O Come O Come Emanuel

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, 
Who ordered all things mightily; 
To us the path of knowledge show, 
and teach us in her ways to go. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel!

And then Basil Wenceslas blew out the candle until next Saturday night when he will light two.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Three Children's Christmas Books

     Basil's Cub Scout Den visited the fire house on Saturday.  The fire fighters were a great bunch of guys.  This was the second time we visited this fire house.  The first time, two months ago they had to respond to a fire just as the wee Cub Scouts arrived for their tour.  This time there were no emergencies so the boys got the whole tour.  Their favorite part?  The brass pole the fire fighters use to get from upstairs to downstairs.  Really.  They liked the fire engine.  They liked the helmets.  But the LOVED the idea of grown men sliding down the pole.
     After the tour Basil and I walked to the library just 100 yards up the road.  While there we listened to two harpists.  We heard Morning Has Broken, And Can It Be, and Greenesleeves (We learned Greenesleeves was written by Henry VIII.) before Basil got squirmy and we went and looked at books.  
     I made a mistake of picking two books by their covers.  Santa's Snow Cat and Santa's Snow Kitten are worth avoiding.  Maybe, if you really like cats you'll like these books, but Basil couldn't get into them, and I also thought they were boring.  It seems the chief virtue of the books is that on every page there is a picture of a wide-eyed yet emotionless cat.  I have trouble thinking of predators sympathetically, but if you like pictures of cats and can look past the destruction cats visit on the wildlife of North America you might like these books.
     A far better book is The Gingerbread Baby. This book has a story that is familiar but has an unexpected ending. It isn't deep and meaningful, but it is fun.  And the illustrations are beautiful and rich.  Basil and Anselm both liked this book.
     I have a stuffed pumpkin in the oven.  Have been enjoying Strauss Family Creamery's egg nog.  The Nativity Fast starts soon and the egg nog will be sold out by the time Orthodox can drink milk again, so these first few days of november are the only time we can drink it.  But that's okay.  I can make my own egg nog, which I'll do during Christmas.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

So much to write about

Well, let's see....   I've been working as a pump and compressor mechanic for a few months now.  I like it.  I think the most interesting thing I've learned how to do is sweat copper tubes for air, water, and oil lines.  I did hurt myself pretty bad with a diamond bladed cutter about 2 months ago.  It cut out a horrible gash in my leg (I lost part of my left tibia) and it hasn't completely healed yet.  It was a very dirty cut and it got infected.  That slowed healing.  But I am okay.  It is mostly healed now.

For the bast couple of weeks my son Billy has very much been on my mind.  I had the trisagion for the departed served for him after the Divine Liturgy last Sunday.  I miss him.  I haven't heard anything from my son Devon in months.  I hope he is okay.  I hope if he isn't that he'll let me know.

We celebrated the anniversary of our conversion to Orthodoxy on Nov. 3.  It is hard to believe it has been 9 years.  I hope I have made progress but I don't see it, if I have.

I've been searching for a 16 pocket wrench roll.  I want it to be leather, made in the U.S.A., and have a pocket large enough for a 1 1/4" combination wrench.  I haven't found what I am looking for.  But I did find this cool blog that tells how to make a wrench roll.

Over the past couple of months I've been reading The Lord of the Rings to Anselm.  I just finished it last week and was trying to decide what to read now.  Then I thought that this year, because we have amassed such a large collection over the years, I should start reading Christmas books early.  I started last night with reading aloud the first few stories of The Animals' Merry Christmas.  Hopefully, I'll be finished by Theophany.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Orthodoxy and Monarchy

Today, after the liturgy, I was talking with a reader and a subdeacon over coffee.  We were talking about books when the reader said, "The introduction to [A Gathered Radiance] contains the best explanation of why the Orthodox Church prefers a monarchy."  I expressed surprise at the idea and he the reader said, "Well, can you imagine Tolkein's last volume of Lord of The Rings set in a world of Republics?  Return of the Prime Minister just doesn't have the same power as Return of the King."

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Even though it falls short, it is worth watching.  I especially like that names modern architecture a crime.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Update on job and a C.S. Lewis Quote

My job is pretty amazing.  Everyday is filled with doing things I have never done and never thought I would do. I even managed to cut out a bit of my left tibia with an angle grinder.  I use blow torches, sledge hammers, and giant wrenches pretty often, but the thing I enjoy doing most is the fine work of re-building Graco Fire Ball Pumps. There is something very satisfying about taking a broken machine apart, cleaning it, figuring out what is wrong with it, and fixing it. I have a few of them sitting on my work bench in the shop. I work on them when I'm not out on a job site, which is where I usually am.  As I fix them my employer sells them to customers.  The goal is for parts and labor to be less than 70% of the selling price.  So far I have done one at 88% (The first one I did) and one at  61%.  I'd like to get good enough so that most of them are at 50%.  The hard part, is figuring out exactly what's wrong with them, but I should get better at diagnosis as time goes by.

Oh, while I'm here I should share with you this quote from C.S. Lewis' essay "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism."

All theology of the liberal type involves at some point — and often involves throughout — the claim that the real behaviour and purpose and teaching of Christ came very rapidly to be misunderstood and misrepresented by His followers, and has been recovered or exhumed only by modern scholars. Now long before I became interested in theology I had met this kind of theory elsewhere. The tradition of Jowett still dominated the study of ancient philosophy when I was reading Greats. One was brought up to believe that the real meaning of Plato had been misunderstood by Aristotle and wildly travestied by the neo-Platonists, only to be recovered by the moderns. When recovered, it turned out (most fortunately) that Plato had really all along been an English Hegelian, rather like T.H. Green. I have met it a third time in my own professional studies; every week a clever undergraduate, every quarter a dull American don, discovers for the first time what some Shakespearian play really meant. But in this third instance I am a privileged person. The revolution in thought and sentiment which has occurred in my own lifetime is so great that I belong, mentally, to Shakespeare’s world far more than to that of these recent interpreters. I see — I feel it in my bones — I know beyond argument — that most of their interpretations are merely impossible; they involve a way of looking at things which was not known in 1914, much less in the Jacobean period. This daily confirms my suspicion of the same approach to Plato or the New Testament. The idea that any man or writer should be opaque to those who lived in the same culture, spoke the same language, shared the same habitual imagery and unconscious assumptions, and yet be transparent to those who have none of these advantages, is in my opinion preposterous. There is an a priori improbability in it which almost no argument and no evidence could counterbalance.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

New Job

Last week I started a new job.  I am learning to be a service technician for a company that installs and services the big machines used in automobile repair shops.  So far, I've installed one hydraulic lift, learned how to sweat copper, rerouted a bunch of oil, waste oil, and air lines, and done a bunch of other interesting things.  I am very grateful for the job.  It is a big change from advertising and property management.  I'm not sure my 43 year old body can take it for more that 5 or 10 years. All of the other techs are younger that 35.  Most are in their early 20s.  Nevertheless, I did astound a couple of them with what they though was a feat of great strength.  Really, it was a feat of moderate strength and much knowledge of the laws of physics.  It's a fun job.  I am getting a chance to do things I've never done.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vacation in Mendocino County

Home.  We are home from a week in a tent near the mouth of Russian Gulch. The boys had a great time.

Anselm took the opportunity to learn how to use a topographic map and a compass.  He completed the requirements for the Cub Scout Map and Compass Pin.  One of the things I did for him was set up a simple land navigation course.  He had to shoot azimuths and walk from point to point until he found his destination.  It was fun for all of us.  Basil went with him and his mother was waiting at the destination point.

Basil kept a diary each day, thus completing the requirements for the Cub Scout Reading and Writing Belt Loop.  He hates writing, so this activity was not much fun for anyone.

We did a in addition to the usual things we do up there, this year we did a couple of different things.  Because it was rainy one day we went to see a movie in Fort Bragg, about 6 miles up the coast from where we were camped.  We also ate at the North Coast Brewing Company Tap Room and Grill.  They have really good food. We also had a 4-beer sampler (you can get a 12 beer sampler) or their 4 darkest beers.  We liked the lightest.  Thy have amazing french fries.  Guess what they do?  They bread them before they fry them!

Oh, talking about the tap room reminds me:  On the way to the coast we stopped in Booneville at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company where Athanasia and I each had a pint and sat in a swing under a mighty oak tree.  When I finished my pint I played frisbee golf with the boys.  WOW! What a hard game.  All the "holes" were par 3 but I didn't make it to any of the baskets in less than 4.  Most were 6 or 7.

On Wednesday, Athanasia stayed in the camp and knit Christmas presents while I took the boys to Portuguese Beach, which I've always known as Driftwood Beach.  But what do I know.  The guide books say it is Portuguese Beach so that is what it must be.

On Thursday Athanasia took the boys to the beach near our campsite while I went into Medocino to mail some postcards and walk around.  I didn't walk around a lot, but I did buy some books for the boys, and I finished "The Loved One" by Evelyn Waugh.  It was funny, but the book was also mean-spirited.  I don't think I'll read anymore Waugh.  I have a feeling that he was a witty man, but probably cruel, too.  While I was in town I saw Mic Fleetwood walking with his arm around a woman.

We drove home the long way, meaning we drove north.  When Hwy 1 gets passes Rockport it turns away from the coast, which the engineers who built Hwy one thought was too difficult to build a highway on.  It must be amazingly rugged for if you see some of the other places they built bridges and tunnels you will understand that those men let little stand in their way.  Now, the area north of Rockport but south of Humboldt County is called the Lost Coast by most people, but the government calls it the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.

  There are a few roads that lead into it, but they are the kinds of roads with big warning signs.  High clearance 4x4 vehicles only.  And don't even think about going in there in wet weather. And did I mention the bears?  People die in there.  Obviously, in our heavy laden PT Cruiser we did not tempt God.  We stayed on Hwy 1 till it joined Hwy 101 in Legget.

In Legget we drove through a 2,400 year old redwood tree.  Really.  Here is the picture.

People have been driving thorough this tree since 1922 but it is still living and full of green.  It is possible to buy potted cuttings of the tree but we contented ourselves with the picture.  It really was a lot of fun.  We mailed some more post cards there and then turned south for San Jose and home.

You know, its kind of funny, but this trip made me feel patriotic.  I felt like I was ding something Americans do.  I'm sure europeans go camping, but do they do it like American's do?  Do they have vast state and national parks?  How can they?  Their countries are so little.  And they don't have the wilderness or frontier heritage American's have.  I'm not running people down in the Old World, its just that they have so many people on such little territory.  I mean, Mendocino County is so big they have at least two county fairs: The The County Fair and Apple Show in Booneville (where they also have the Wool and Fiber Festival), and the Redwood Empire Fair in Ukiah, the county seat.  As a boy I had a lot of fun at the Redwood Empire Fair.  I saw a demolition derby there when I was 11.  As we drove by late Friday night they were having go cart races on the 1/4 mile dirt track.   I bet they have fairs in Hopland and Willits, too.

Oh, speaking of Willits, we stopped there to eat at a place called "The Lumberjack".  HUGE portions of really good food.  Also, they had big screen teevees in the two dining rooms on which they showed timbersports competitions.  That was a lot of fun.  And a little scary.  I was sure someone was going to lose a leg.  They were doing things with chainsaws the manuals very clearly instruct one to never do.  At least the college student competitors wore steel armor on the legs and feet.  The pros, however, wore no protective equipment.

We got home early this morning and didn't do much.  I got a hair cut (I have a job interview the day after tomorrow) and then Athanasia and I went to see the movie Midnight in Paris.

Basil lost another tooth.  It is under his pillow.  I guess I ought to go see if the tooth fairy has stopped by and then go to bed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

They Lie and People Believe Them

Have you heard about how George W. Bush squandered the Clinton budget surplus?  I heard it again today and am shocked people still believe this fabrication.  Starting with FY 1993, the last G.H.W. Bush budget here are all the totals for the National Debt and the yearly Budget Deficit.  If any year had been in surplus the National Debt for that year would have been smaller the the National Debt at the end of the previous year.  But that was never the case.  Here are the facts:

National DebtDeficit
FY199309/30/1993$4.411488 trillion
FY199409/30/1994$4.692749 trillion$281.26 billion
FY199509/29/1995$4.973982 trillion$281.23 billion
FY199609/30/1996$5.224810 trillion$250.83 billion
FY199709/30/1997$5.413146 trillion$188.34 billion
FY199809/30/1998$5.526193 trillion$113.05 billion
FY199909/30/1999$5.656270 trillion$130.08 billion
FY200009/29/2000$5.674178 trillion$17.91 billion
FY200109/28/2001$5.807463 trillion$133.29 billion

So you see?  Even in his best budget year Wm. J. Clinton, working with the brilliant lights in the U.S. Congress, still added $17.91 billion to the U.S.'s National Debt.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Looking for work and other things

I've been out of work since February or March.    I was a contractor at a company called BarNone, but got very sick and eventually lost my hearing, which meant I couldn't work.  I went out on medical leave. Which because I was a contractor was unpaid.  After a few weeks of horrible drug therapy and Holy Unction Imy sense of hearing was restored during Bright Week.  But just a few days before, during Holy Week the whole department I worked in had been let go.  So no work for me.  And because I was, legally, a self employed contractor, I do not get unemployment insurance payments.  Financially, we are hard against it.  Savings is gone.  Our little real estate investment has been sold. Athanasia is working but that isn't enough to pay expenses.  If I don't get work by the middle of August I think we will have to seek bankruptcy protection.  Although, our debts are mainly Federal Student Loans, which can not be discharged by bankruptcy, so bankruptcy might not do anything for us.

I've applied for many many jobs but most of them I don't hear from.  Some have told me I am over qualified.  I have had three interviews in the last couple of weeks that seem somewhat promising:

1) An ad agency is looking for a Sr. Account Executive.  I made it past the phone interview, and then met with them in person.  I think I answered all the questions right, but I don't think we are going to be a good cultural fit.  I was the only man in the office, the only one over 35, the only one not wearing jeans.  I met with them last Thursday but haven't heard anything since then.

2) Today I had a great interview with a company that installs and repairs hydraulic lifts, tire balacing machines, oil replacing machines, etc. at mechanics shops.  The interview was like a cross between a Car Talk puzzler and Martin Gardner's old columns in Scientifc American.  He asked me questions about hydraulic theory, pressure couplings and O-rings, diaphram pumps, and ball-valves.  It was more fun than I've had in a long time.  It was fun to show off knowledge I've had for decades but have never used.  More than any of the three jobs I'm writing about here, this is the one I want.

3) The other job I've interviewed for, and I have been through three interviews (including an informal bar-b-q with the District committee) with them so far, is with the Santa Clara County Council of the Boys Scouts of America.  It is a volunteer owned and run organization, but they have a few paid full-time staff who do special things that volunteers typically don't have the time or skills to do.  It doesn't pay much, and the hours are long, and the work is behind the scenes and thankless, but I'd love to do it.  Unfortunately, I am not sure they'd love to have me.  It seems that after the last interview things kind of haven't gone anywhere.  They said they wouldn't be making a decision until mid August, so maybe I am seeing rejection where there isn't any.  Must stay positive.

Last day of Twilight Camp
Speaking of Cub Scouts, I have had many Cub Scout Activities the last few weeks.  Let's see....  

1.Basil went to Twilight Camp and I was his Den Leader for that (something I couldn't have done if I'd had a job).  It was amazing fun.  I wrote about it previously so I won't go into any detail. But it was fun, and Athanasia and I made some friends among adult leaders of other Packs.  But wait! There's more Scout Stuff!

The Four of Us at Friend's Court of Honor
2. A friend of mine, the son of friends of mine was made an Eagle Scout and we attended his Court of Honor during the week Basil was at Twilight camp.

2. We attended Scout Night at a San Jose Giants baseball game, where we camped on the outfield, watched Sand Lot on the Jumbotron.

3. We went on a hike with our Pack in the Rodeo Lagoon in the Marin Headlands part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  We taught the boys, mostly 5 year old Tiger Cubs, how to identify poison oak, wild strawberries, black berries, fennel, and camomile.  For most of them it was their first hike and earned them the first of the S.F. Bay Trail Trekker series of patches for their uniforms.  Basil Wenceslas was the only bot to get hurt.  I'm not sure how it happened but he fell and got a nasty puncture wound in the palm of his left hand.  Thankfully, Atanasia was there.  She's Red Cross trained and caries the First Aid kit.  He was bound up like a mummy in less time that it takes me to tell you about it.  

4. We attended, together with many hundreds of other Cub Scouts from various Packs, Scout Night at a San Jose Earthquakes soccer game.  Anselm Samuel was chosen to carry the flag onto the field at the beginning of the game.  I lead the the remaining Cub Scouts from our Pack in the "cheer tunnel" which was two files of Cub Scouts who welcomed the players onto the field.  It was fun, but in spite of the game played on the field, which ended with a score of 0-0.  When we got to our seats in the stands after opening ceremonies the boys had cotton candy, and there was a section of the stands where a gorup of perhas three score young men jumped up and down and sang bood curdling fight songs and banged on drums for the whole game.  I have no idea why, since their singing/yelling/jumping/drumming seemed completely unrealated to anything taking place on the field of contest.  Nevertheless, as an object of anthropological interest they were fascinating.  In short,  I think soccer is a horrible waste of magnificent athletic ability.  Someone, please, give those poor men a better game to play.  Perhaps, beach volleyball or motorcycle racing.

Well, I might not file for bankruptcy.  There is another optoion but I am loathe to go that route.  I could borrow more money from the United States and complete the M.A. degree I started. Thate will put all of my existing student loans into differment and give me more time to find work.  That might be better.  I thnk that is what I will do.  But I sure hate borrowing more money to pay for a degree, I have become convinced, will not help me make money.  Oh, man.  What a pit I am in.  But I'm not feeling blue.  There is food to eat and the rent is paid.

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Basic Elements of Victorious Christian Life

On Saturday a clerk in a store in that sells Orthodox stuff and I were chatting and he said, "Hey come with me out to my truck for a minute I have something I want to give you."  I went with him and what he gave me was a piece of paper with some instruction from Fr. Thomas Hopko inscribed thereupon.

The Basic Elements of Victorious Christian Life
55 Maxims by V.Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko

1. Be always with Christ.
2. Pray as you can, not as you want.
3. Have a keepable rule of prayer that you do by discipline.
4. Say the Lord's Prayer several times a day.
5. Have a short prayer that you constantly repeat when your mind is not occupied with other things.
6. Make some prostrations when you pray.
7. Eat good foods in moderation.
8. Keep the Church's fasting rules.
9. Spend some time insilence every day.
10. Do acts of mercy in secret.
11. Go to liturgical services regularly.
12. Go to confession and communion regularly.
13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings.  Cut them off at the start.
14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings regularly to a trusted person.
15. Read the Scriptures regularly.
16. Read good books a little bit at a time.
17. Cultivate communion with the saints.
18. Be an ordinary person.
19. Be polite with everyone.
20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.
21. Have a healthy wholesome hobby.
22. Exercize regulary.
23. Live a day and a part of a day at a time.
24. Be totally honest, first of all with yourself.
25. Be faithfull in little things.
26. Do your work, and then forget it.
27. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
28. Face reality.
29. Be grateful in all things.
30. Be cheerful.
31. Be simple, hidden, quiet, and small.
32. Never bring attention to yourself.
33. Listen when people talk to you.
34. Be awake and attentive.
35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
36. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, and directly.
37. Flee imagination, analysis, figuring things out.
38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
39. Don't complain, mumble, murmer, or whine.
40. Don't compare yourself with anyone.
41. Don't seek or expect praise or pity from anyone.
42. Don't judge anyone for anything.
43. Don't try to convince anyone of anything.
44. Don't defend or justify yourself.
45. Be defined or bound by God alone.
46. Accept criticizm gratefully but test it critically.
47. Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.
48. Do nothing for others that they can and should do for themselves.
49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.
50. Be merciful with yourself and with others.
51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
52. Focus exclusively on God and light, not on sin and darkness.
53. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults and sins peacefully, serenely, because you know that God's mercy is greater than your wretchedness.
54. When you fall, get up immediately, and start over.
55. Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.

Saturday, July 02, 2011


A Protestant friend of mine, who also had very little expereince of the Orthodox Church once asked me if I get tired of doing the same thing in Church all the time.  It was kind of funny to me then, and still is now.  I explained to him how our services are like a series of interlocking wheels of various diamaters so that every service is actually different from every other service, and that the same service won't repeat for several centuries.  

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Economics of Children

Anselm Samuel traded two rolly-polly bugs, one moth and one lady bug for three pokemon cards at camp today.   He seems to think it was a good trade.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

From the CSA we got a huge amount of carrots

8 c. carrots, sliced (about 2 lbs.)
2 c. cider vinegar
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. whole cloves
1 tbsp. whole allspice
2 sticks cinnamon

Peel and slice carrots into 3/4 inch long pieces. Cover and cook in a small amount of boiling salt water about 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Combine vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water and sugar in a kettle. Add spices tied in cheesecoth. Bring mixture to a boil. Add carrots, cover, and let stand at room temperature overnight. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Remove spices and pack carrots into clean hot pint jars. Fill to within 1/2 inch of top with hot syrup. Seal immediately. Process 30 minutes in boiling-water bath.Makes about 4 pints.

Boy Scouts

I have had a very full plate of Boys Scouts this week.  Monday night through Friday night was our local Council's Cub Scout Twilight Camp.  From 4:30 to 8:30 I led an ad hoc Den of 11 Cub Scouts, aged 5 to 8 from station to station where they shot BB guns, played kickball, made and launched model rockets, played vollyball, learned how to shoot bows and arrows, sang songs, acted in skits, conducted flag raising and lowering ceremonies, made crystals, buit a wooden model of the space shuttle and played soccer.  On the first day they made their Den flag and a different boy carried it at the head of our formation from station to station.  And we yelled our Den Yell the whole time we were marching from station to station.

As much as I enjoyed working with the kids I think the best part for me was meeting all the adult leaders.  There are about 45 families in my Pack.  And they are pretty good.  They get their kids to the meetings on time, and some of them volunteer to help out and run the pack.  But for the most part Scouting isn't very important to them.  It's just another one of their kids activities, along with soccer, little league, and school.  They are in it for their kids but don't really think of themselves as part of the Scouting movement.  But the people who volunteered to run the Twilight Camp were amazing.  Their dedication to Scouting is as near to total as it can be.  It was inspiring to be around them.

The other Scouting related thing I did this week was that I interviewed for an executive position at the Council.  (The BSA is mostly a volunteer organization.  The Council serves more than 30,000 youth members in hundreds of Packs, Troops, and Crews but only has 7 paid employees.) They had applicants from all over the country and norrowed it down to 20.  I was one of the 20 they interviewed.  I think it went well, but they have a four part hiring process and I only just completed part one.  I won't know anything for a couple of weeks.

Tonight after Twilight Camp, Basil and I raced to the baseball park to join the rest of our Pack (We were the only ones from our Pack to go to Twilight Camp.) for the last two innings of the SJ Giants (2010 Cal. League Champions) game against the Stockton Ports.  We lost 8-5 but it was fun.  Tomorrow night we will join with Scouts from lots and lots of packs for the official Scout Night.  After the game we will spend the night in a tent on the outfield!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

I woke up from my post liturgy nap feeling a little sad.  I had been dreaming of my Dad, my Mom, and my oldest son:  All in the grave.  It got me to thinking about their funerals, and how a friend of mine was surprised that I took my youngest sons to their funeral.  She is someone whoe doesn't think its right to expose children to the harsher realities.  And that reminded me of a woman who, when I was teaching 4 year olds at Peninsula Bible Church, asked me to skip the part about God killing people in the flood.

"Let the children come unto me", Jesus comanded.  Is there another way to come to Jesus than by repentence?  Is there another way to come to him than by asking for mercy?  How can a child seek salvation if he doesn't know what he has to be saved from?  It seems to me that not letting children know about death, the consequence of sin, is the same as keeping them from Jesus.  Mourning the death of those he knows and loves is one of the steps to blessedness.

Part of that blessednes Jesus taught us about, probably all of it, is in the command to "come unto me".  We gather around Jesus.  We gather around the one who conquored death.  An Orthodox monk called Elder Ephraim said mere human sorrow becomes isolating and destructive.  When we keep children from the funeral of their loved ones we guide them away from Jesus and force them to moun alone.  If we keep children from funerals we keep them from Godly mourning, we keep them in isolation, we keep them from Jesus.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What God Hates: A Helpful List of What to Avoid

I was thinking today about the Congressman who resigned, and about how some people have suggested that his wife should divorce him.  I tend to think that if she can stay with him she should.  What he did was wicked, but it seems to me that adding another divorce, which God hates, to the total sins of the world only makes the world a worse place.  And thinking about God hating divorce made me think about what else God hates.  Here is a list, in order of appearance in the Bible, of the 44 things, persons, and behaviors God hates.

1.   Homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:22).
2.   Humans having sex with animals (Leviticus 18:23)
3.   Idols, and the materials used to make idols (Deuteronomy 7:25)
4.   Sacred pillars (Deuteronomy 16:22)
5.   Blemished sacrifices (Deuteronomy 17:1)
6.   Worshipping the sun, moon or stars (Deuteronomy 17:3-4)
7.   Divination (Deuteronomy 18:10)
8.   Astrology (Deuteronomy 18:10)
9.   Enchanters (Deuteronomy 18:10)
10.   Witches (Deuteronomy 18:10)
11.   Charmers (Deuteronomy 18:11)
12.   Wizards (Deuteronomy 18:11)
13.   Necromancers (Deuteronomy 18:11)
14.   Transvestitism (Deuteronomy 22:5)
15.   Prostitution (Deuteronomy 23:18)
16.   Remarriage to a former wife after she has been married to another man (Deuteronomy 24:4)
17.   Dishonest scales (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)
18.   Workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5)
19.   The wicked (Psalm 11:5)
20.   Those who love violence (Psalm 11:5)
21.   The perverse (Proverbs 3:32)
22.   A proud look (Proverbs 6:16-17)
23.   A lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17)
24.   Hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17)
25.   A heart that devises wicked imaginations (Proverbs 6:18)
26.   Feet that are swift in running to mischief (Proverbs 6:18)
27.   A false witness who speaks lies (Proverbs 6:19)
28.   Anyone who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:19)
29.   Lying lips (Proverbs 12:22)
30.   The sacrifices of the wicked (Proverbs 15:8)
31.   The ways of the wicked (Proverbs 15:9)
32.   The thoughts of the wicked (Proverbs 15:26)
33.   The proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5)
34.   Those who justify the wicked (Proverbs 17:15)
35.   Those who condemn the just (Proverbs 17:15)
36.   Vain sacrifices (Isaiah 1:13)
37.   Feasts and New Moons (Isaiah 1:14, Amos 5:21)
38.   Robbery for burnt offering (Isaiah 61:8)
39.   Idolatry (Jeremiah 44:2-4)
40.   Evil plans against neighbors (Zechariah 8:17)
41.   False oaths (Zechariah 8:17)
42.   Esau (Malachi 1:1-3; Romans 9:13)
43.   Divorce (Malachi 2:14-16)
44.   The deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6, 15)

Thursday, June 16, 2011


A hilarious comment on an article about California being ranked at the bottom for personal liberty:

"Ha! You laugh at California now, but wait till we get the $45 billion bullet train between Modesto and Bakersfield completed. That will be the biggest money maker you have ever seen. People will come from all over the world to ride it, and many thousands of jobs will come back to our state. You will see"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sadness Continues

One of the problems of our age, which I think should be called "The Media Age", is that we are aware of so much sadness and suffering.  In the past, there was a lot more death. Most most children did not live to see their first birthday.  But sadness was, for the most part, local.  We didn't hear about a tribe sliding off an ice shelf.  We didn't hear about a village being burried by a mudslide.  We didn't hear about a misbehaving bishop.  We didn't hear about every cocaine addled musician.  We didn't hear about every sex-addicted politician. Today we do.

A couple of years ago I mentioned Sly and the Family Stone breaking up dut to the effects of drug abuse.  Sly is still at it.  Still filling his body with those horrible chemicals.  Still suffering.  Still hurting himshelf and others.  And the sadness just seems to spread.

Maybe, all of this bad news could cause Christians to pray more.  If so, then maybe what I now think of as the "Media Age" could become known as the "Prayer Age".

Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


I saw this on one of my favorite blogs: Cartego Delenda Est  (The author of the blog is also the major reason I am Orthodox today.)

A Darwinist (D) having a conversation with an ID proponent (ID)

D: Naturalistic forces are sufficient for producing biodiversity.

ID: Can you provide any evidence to support your claim?

D: It’s all over the place.

ID: Could you point me to one of those places?

D: Well, sure if you insist. Here is the evidence for Macro Evolution.

ID: Please try to focus. We are not talking about Macro Evolution. The issue is whether or not naturalistic forces are “sufficient” to produce it.

D: Please tell me why you think an intelligent agent was responsible.

ID: Again, I must ask you to stay on topic. We are discussing your claim, not mine.

D: I believe that my neo-Darwinistic theory is adequate. Eventually, matter in motion will produce life and leave the appearance of design, even though that design is not real.

ID: I understand that you believe in the neo-Darwinism paradigm, but I am asking you if you have any good reasons for believing in it.

D: ID is not a rigorous science.

ID: ID is rigorous enough that its proponents can produce empirical evidence that lends itself to scientific measurement. Do you have any empirical, measurable evidence to support your position?

D: Please define “information.”

ID: I will be happy to do that at another time, but I am, at the moment, interested in finding out if you can make a rational case for your argument.

D: I think evolutionary processes resemble intentional intelligent processes very closely.

ID. That is an interesting claim, but I am still hoping that you will defend your original claim, which you seem to have forgotten.

D: Well, if you must know, I find the Darwinistic explanation more parsimonious?

ID: But do you have any reason to believe that this parsimonious explanation reflects reality or is consistent with the evidence?

D: Yes, thousands of scientists believe it.

ID: But that is precisely what all the fuss in about. Those scientists, like you, cannot support their beliefs, which is why we are having this discussion.

D: Well, I’ve been busy, and I’ve slightly lost track of the challenge. But yes, I do think that unintelligent processes can generate intelligent ones. I don’t see any good a priori reason to think they couldn’t.

ID: But do you have any evidentially-based reasons for believing that?

D: I have already presented the evidence?

ID: Again, you have presented summaries of arguments on behalf of Common Descent? You have not, in any way, presented an argument to support the proposition that naturalistic forces can take life through all the taxonomic levels or produce even one new body plan.

D: Please define “naturalistic forces.”

ID: They are what you thought they were when you said they were “sufficient.”

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Saturday Soundtrack: 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

At the age of 7 I didn't really understand what this song was about, or how silly the advice given in the song was.  I guess I was a teenager before I understood what the song was about.  I just liked the chorus

Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan 
You don't need to be coy, Roy
O, you hop on the bus, Gus 
Don't need to discuss mucth
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

In a way, it's a very 1970s song, isn't it?  Very selfish.  Admittedly, I do not know Paul Simon, but I always pick up this very sefish vibe from his songs.

Anyway, I remember, like with so many other songs, first hearing it while riding in my brother Mark's car.

The album, Still Crazy After All These Years, was the fourth released by Simon after his break up with Art Garfunkle, and produced three top 40 hits.  (Interestingly, one of those hit songs, though not the subject of this blog post was written and recorded with Garfunkle.)  And the album was noted then and now for certain unusual and innovative musical techniques.  On this song it is Steve Gadd's drumming.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dream Come True

Tonight, after supper, Anselm got out his music book and recorder and asked if he could show me how to play Miss Masey, which he learned how to play in school.  I played on the ukulele.  Then he asked his mother to play on her recorder.  Then Basil wanted to play something.  First he tried the cabasa, but that took a little more skill than he was able to muster, so I switched him to the tamburine.  And then we four played music!!!  I was so happy.  The boys are asleep now.  I can hardley wait until moring when we will play again.


We walked to the library today.  Something I love about where I live is that the neigborhood is full of trees.  Most streets in Willow Glen are overarched by branches so that walking or driving along them is like going through a green tunnel.  At oak trees I tell the boys about Abraham and Sarah being visted by the Holy Trinity at the Oaks of Mamre.  At a particular sycamore where they swing on ropes someone has hung from stout limbs I tell them about Zacheus and Jesus.  At the junipers, which are not my favorite tree, they climb high in the branches as I tell them about Elijah and the prophets of Baal, and how after that great miracle he was afraid of Jezabel and ran and rested (hid?) under a juniper.  At the fig tree I tell them about Jesus cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit.  There are some cedars, so tall they are easy not to notice, and at those I tell them about King Hiram supplying the lumber for Solomon's temple.  I live in a good place for teaching my boys about the love of God.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A guide to Orthodox Seminary Education

St. Tikhon's :  You go here to learn how to use a censer.
St. Vladimir's: You go here to learn the meaning of a censer.
Holy Cross: You go here to learn how to raise money to pay for a censer.
Holy Trinity: Their censer is more Orthodox than your censer.
St. Herman's: Would someone, please, buy them a censer?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Fable of the Horse and the Stag

Aesop: AT ONE TIME the Horse had the plain entirely to himself. Then a Stag intruded into his domain and shared his pasture. The Horse, desiring to revenge himself on the stranger, asked a man if he were willing to help him in punishing the Stag. The man replied that if the Horse would receive a bit in his mouth and agree to carry him, he would contrive effective weapons against the Stag. The Horse consented and allowed the man to mount him. From that hour he found that instead of obtaining revenge on the Stag, he had enslaved himself to the service of man.

Question: Which of the three characters in the fable would you replace with "America"?
Question: Which would you replace with "Bin Ladin"?
Question: Which would you replace with "Pakistan"?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


21 years ago this month I was in Nashville, Tennessee.   Beside the stage door of the Ryman Auditorium is another door.  And going through that door is like stepping into a different world, a world where only music matters.  I walked into Gruhn Guitars to sell the little Martin guitar my mother gave me when I was 16.  She got it from my uncle Harry Powers.  He had a guitar but wanted an organ.  My mother had an organ but wanted a guitar.  About forty years before that Harry Powers was leaving Bible college and needed to sell the trailer he was living in.  Roy M. Chapell, who later in life would be the head of the PCG, had just arrived at Bible college but didn't have a place to live.  But he had a guitar.  They traded: Guitar for trailer.  How it killed me to say good-by to that guitar.  But I had two little boys and no money to pay the rent.  But there was consolation.  Gruhn Guitars was like nothing I'd ever seen.  I opened the door and was overwheled by the music.  It was like an unending song as customer after customer, some of the best musicians in the world, picked up instruments to join in the symphony and test the instruments.  I only knew 13 or 14 chords and none of them were F.  So, I wasn't nearly good enough to join in that music.  But I could listen and be amazed.  And I knew someone better than me would get my guitar and make better music.  I know Vince Gill, Eric Clapton, and Amy Grant have bought guitars there.  So, though I have always been sad for my loss, I've also thought that, maybe, the little Martin guitar was on its way to its telos that day, and I was comforted by that. And by having a roof over my family's head for a couple of more months.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Cecelia: A Saturday Soundtrack Post

Some people think this song is about a songwriter's relationship with St. Ceclia, a patron saint of musicians.  I have no idea if that is true, or not, but I've always liked the song.  In the spring of 1986 I and a few other of Drill Sergeant McCain's privates in 1st platoon, B-4-5 at Ft. Dix New Jersey began singing it, and before we knew it, the whole platoon was marching around us in circle.  Yes, we had turned a Simon and Garfunkel song into an Army marching cadence.

Friday, May 06, 2011

It's not Saturday but, what the heck, here's part of the Soundtrack.

Not too long ago I was in the bathroom of a certain establishment on Hwy 9.  The walls and ceilng of the the bathroom were covered with album covers from the late '60s and early '70s, which was a very amazing time in the music business.  It seemed like everyone knew everyone else.  For example, Delaney and Bonnie, who  were connected to Eric Clapton (Clapton said Delaney taught him how to sing.), Rita Coolidge, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, and many others worked as backup musicians for Delaney and Bonnie, and their concerts were known as some of the best parties in the world.

For a band that was so deeply enmeshed in the music scene of the time, that was so influential in the later careers of so many, Clapton and Harrison especially, you'd think more people would know about them, that their songs would get more airplay on the "oldies" stations.  Well, you know how there are bands that can only make records but flop when they perform live?  Delaney and Bonnie had the opposite problem.  Jerry Wexler said the studio album they recorded for him "didn't quite catch the fire of their live performances".   None of their albums did.

Delaney and Bonnie divorced in 1973.  Their daughter Bekka Bramlett joined Fleetwood Mac in the 1990s.

This song, Never Ending Song of Love, has been recorded by everyone.  And almost everyone's recording of it is better than Delaney and Bonnie's original.   It is part of their 1971 album Motel Shot, which was recorded "live" in the studio with only acoustic instruments.  It was an attempt to catch the fire of their live performances.   The album cover was stapled above and to the left of the wash basin in the bathroom.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Obtaining Mercy

Every Sunday we hear that Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."  But sometimes it is hard to be merciful.  If we give money to a charity, such as Feed the Children, can we be sure we are being merciful?  Or, is most of the money given being spent on fundraising and salaries of employees?  

Thankfully, the Church does give us guidelines to help us be merciful, and in many instances, it seems to me, these works of mercy are best performed by individuals or by by families, but not by large charity organizations, or even by parishes.    

The corporal works of mercy:
  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy:
  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

Of these, it seems to me, that only burying the dead requires group effort, unless one is unusually rich and able to buy land for the poor.  

Saturday, April 30, 2011

This Day in Willow Glen

I have been enjoying being able to hear again.  Yes, I can hear in one of my ears!  It has been this way since Pascha.  Holy Week was so dim for me but now I hear. I am happy.

Today, Bright Saturday, Anselm Samuel, Basil Wenceslas, and I went downtown.  The people my little neighborhood of Willow Glen call it "downtown", which I think is funny, since San Jose, wherein Willow Glen is located, has a downtown with skyscrapers, hotels, and museums, the RC Cathedral, theaters, etc.  It is about a 1/3 mile length of Licoln Avenue stretching from the bridge over Los Gatos Creek at the north end (where we live) to Willow Glen Elementary School at the shouth end.

We set out, the three of us, by different modes.  I was on foot.  Basil was on his scooter.  Anselm was on his bicycle.  This last I want to talk about a bit.  Anselm rode his bicylce on the street (it is four lanes wide and has much traffic), in the traffic, changing lanes, giving hand signals.  I told him, "you have the right to be on that road.  That is the law.  Just obey the traffic laws and don'to not let the cars intimidate you."  At one point, when a woman passed him and yelled, "Shouldn't you be on the side walk?" he just ignored her and went about his business.  He was afraid of all the cars, he said, but he did what needed to be done.  I am proud of him.

The first place we went was the Bagel store.  I thought it would be wonderful to taste cream cheese on a bagel again, for the first time since before Lent, but I was wrong.  You see, I've been eating paskha on kulich all week.  Cream cheese on a bagel just can't compare.  But it was nice just the same. The boys and I read the paper while eating our bagels.  Anslem read the comics aloud to Basil while I read about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton that happened yesterday.  At one point one of my Cub Scouts came in.  It was his first time to see me outside of a Cub Scout activity.  He just kept looking at my clothes, like he never thought I might wear something other than a uniform.

When we finished the bagels we went up the street to a toy store named Treehouse in the Glen, to buy some more marbles and chalk.  We played some games while we were there.  Basil beat me at this crazy version of Tic Tac Toe in which you can capture your oponents squares.  It wouldn't have been so bad, but he beat me four times!

After that we went to Basil's favorite store, the Willow Glen Collective.  Its a really neat little shop.  You can buy plates stamped "Made in Occupied Japan", carnival glass, old tobacco tins, bakelite jewelry, art decco lamps...   It's really like a little museum and the stock turns over all the time so there is always new stuff to see.  Today they had in an old apothacary balance.  The boys had a lot of fun with that.  And I think I found a Mother's Day present for my wife!

The next place we stopped was the elementary school.  We drew a chalk circle and played marbles.  We played several games.  Anselm won them all.  Then the boys raced around the school yard on their vehicles for a little while before we left to go home.

We stopped at Starbucks and got iced tea, since it is a warmish day, maybe in the mid-70s.  Well, I got iced tea.  The boys just wanted water.  Then we went a couple of doors down to Hicklebee's, the best childrens bookstore I've ever seen.  We looked around there for a while, but I didn't buy anything.  We have many books at home still that have yet tobe read.

We came home after that, and Anselm oiled his bike chain while Basil rode his scooter for a while longer.  While Basil was riding up and down our street he met our neighber, the one with thelemon tree. He came home with two lemons and I made them into lemonade for him and Anselm.  The key to lemonade is having twice the volume of simple syrup as lemon juice.  I think most people don't like home made lemonade becuse they have more lemon juice than simple syrup.

While I am writing this the boys are eating a late lunch of Manhattan clam chowder and french bread.  Well, Basil isn't.  He says he hates it and wants me to make New England clam chowder instead.  Well, he can go hungry.  I'm not a short order cook.  I'll try to make something he likes for supper.