Thursday, July 22, 2021

Viva Las Vegas

Kathleen and I got home yesterday from three nights and four days in Las Vegas. Here is my evaluation of the trip.

Rating the various parts of my Las Vegas adventure on a scale of 1 to 10

A. San Francisco International Airport. Easy parking, fun conveyor belt rides. Really neat museum quality exhibit on the history of flight attendant uniforms. Loses points for the Harvey Milk exhibit. SCORE: 6

B. Southwest Airlines. On time. No fee for luggage!!!! SCORE: 10

C. Uber. Always there when you need them. One driver was on crank. All the others were great. I think one lady is converting to Orthodoxy. SCORE: 9.5

D. Staying at a Blue-Green Vacations resort for 3 nights for free. No daily maid service because of covid wasn't as big a bummer as I thought it would be. Comfortable beds, full kitchen including place settings and cookware. All the C-Span channels and the Weather Channel!!! Upgraded to the deluxe sweet because of my job. They would score higher if they had a better pool. SCORE: 9

E. Church of St. Paul the Apostle. They had a fill in priest because their regular priest was on vacation and there was a medical emergency during the service (a teenage girl passed out at the start of the Gospel reading) but the subdeacon was on the ball! Even paramedics coming into the church to help the girl didn't throw him off his stride. I don't know his name is but every parish should have a subdeacon or deacon like him. He was managing the acolytes, relying instructions to the choir director, and anticipating the needs of the priest so that the priest and people could do their jobs smoothly. It is always enjoyable to watch someone working who is really good at his job. This church gets bonus points because every word chanted, spoken, or sung was annunciated clearly, loudly, and at a speed a normal person can interpret as human language. I am no fan of the speed reading style of liturgizing so I loved this service. (I can't assign a number rating to The Orthodox Church)

F. The Casinos at Caesar's Palace and the Bellagio. What is up with all the loud pop music? I wouldn't listen to that dreck at sensible volume but when it is so loud you have to speak at an unusual decibel level to be heard by the person standing beside you it is too loud. Even if I had wanted to gamble I wouldn't have because of the noise level. At least, they were clean and didn't smell like smoke. SCORE: 3

G. The staff members at Caesar's Palace and the Bellagio. Very helpful. Very friendly. Very efficient. If I were doing a case study for a degree in hospitality management I would use these people as examples of what to do right. SCORE 10

H. Fremont Street (aka The Old Strip). Clouds of Marijuana smoke and crowds of drunk people. Street performers with carefully placed electrical tape engaged in simulated sex acts. Again, overly loud music. On the plus side, there are zip lines and a street long over-head electronic art thing. SCORE: 2

I. The Miracle Mile. It's just a shopping mall but the interior architecture fools you into thinking you are outside in old Algiers or Casablanca It is very convincing. Score: 7

J. Oscar's in the dome of the Plaza Hotel. WOW WHAT A STEAK!!!! I thought I had had food before but I was wrong. I'm going to say something I never thought I would say, but the steaks here are better than the steaks at Harris's Restaurant in San Francisco. SCORE: 10

K. Leather Throwers exhibit at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. The quality of the exhibit was very good. Works by Andy Warhol, Louis Vuitton, and Jeffry Gibson shown together with promotional posters, boxing gloves, and other items from Las Vegas' history with boxing shine light and love on the Sweet Science. The only complaint: It was excellent quality that made me wish for more quantity. The exhibit was too small. You can see the whole thing in an hour. Score: 7

L. Montecristo cigar bar at Caesar's Palace. Wide selection. Knowledgeable staff. Comfortable chairs. Quiet. They didn't have Punch Robustos but they found a cigar for me with a similar flavor profile. SCORE: 9

M. The Cabanas at the Bellagio Pools. Absolutely marvelous. Water. Sun. Quiet. Pleasant people. Friendly helpful staff. Excellent food. Very good place to spend a day and take a nap. We got our cabana away from the big main pools but near one of the side pools that more resembbles a Roman fountain. Beautiful and peaceful. SCORE: 10

N. The Absinthe show at Caesar's Palace. The acrobatic and arial acts were amazing, and I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. I had never seen people so physically strong before. Sadly, their performances were undermined by less than salubrious adolescent humour that wasn't funny and left me feeling polluted. Score: 5

O. The Rat Pack is Back show at the Tuscany Casino. Singers impersonating Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. doing their act from the Sands in the 1960. The guy doing Sinatra was very good. The guy doing Martin was spot on when it came to voice but engaged in some vulgarisms Dean Martin wouldn't have. During That's Amore he stopped singing and let the audience sing. We all knew the words. It was a fun moment. Sadly, the singer who impersonated Sammy Davis Jr was all personality but had very little of Davis' singing ability. Or, maybe, he was over-acting. It is as though he let Davis' cool cat persona overtake and distort Davis' very great musicianship. The orchestra was very good. Score: 8

P. McCarran Airport. I liked the exhibits on the history of the Airport (Who remembers Bonanza Airline?) The gift shops had a wide variety of merchandise to choose from. The seating at the gate could have been better. Getting though security was a breeze. The biggest drawback was the quality of the food at the PGA cafe in the terminal. Starbuck's on the other side of the hall would have been better. Score: 8

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Independence Day

The first Independence Day I remember is 1973. I was four years old. We were in Yellowstone National Park and it snowed. I remember everyone talking about how unusual it was that snow was falling in July. That's all I remember.

The next Independence Day I remember is the Bicentennial in 1976. All the fire hydrants hand been painted red, white and blue. There were banners and flags everywhere. The money was changed. I gathered a small collection of bicentennial quarters, half-dollars, and even a dollar with the big Liberty Bell on the reverse side. (That was back when dollars were a lot of money, when a dollar was worth about 1/150 oz of gold. Now a dollar is only worth 1/1785 oz of gold.) I'm sure it was no more than a dozen coins. I kept them in a sock. I remember my mother and brother talking about his cnaces of living to see our countries 300th birthday. That was the first time I heard anyone say that God had limited our lifespans to 120 years.

The next Independence Day I remember was when I was 9 years old. My Mom, my Dad, my Uncle Harry and Aunt Carolyn, and my cousin Bryan were at Sonora. We went to see the fireworks at the Motherload Fair Grounds. I remember eating water mellon, too.

The next Independence Day I remember is 1986, when I was a seventeen year old private at Ft Dix, New Jersey. Our comapny commander gave us the afternoon off so we could attend an orchestra concert on the parade field (It was called Doughboy Field. It was the same parade field my grandfather marched across during the First World War.) Our company was kind or rowdy and the conductor of the orchestra, a chief warrant officer, stopped the concert, walked over to us and, gently for a Chief Warrant Officer, ordered us to be silent for the duration of the concert.

The next Independence Day I remember is 1989 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It was the biggest fireworks show I have ever seen. I will never forget it. We were sitting on the hood of our car, a Dodge 600 ES, in a big gras field.

The next Independence Day I remember is 1990. THere were no fireworks but my mother and her six sisters organized a family renunion near Yosemite. It was fun to be with all my uncles and aunts, my cousins, and siblings, and nephews and nieces.

The next Independence Day I remember is 1993. My two oldest sons, my parents, and my Uncle Fred and Aunt Nettie all met at Pismo Beach. We had a picnic on the beach and watched people setting of fire works next to the ocean late into the night. The next Independence Day I remember has already been written about on this blog.

The next Indepencence Day I remember is 1997. I, my two oldest sons, my friend Jeff and a few other friends, went to visit my parents and Uncle Fred and Aunt Nettie where they were living in Visalia. We spent a few days there but on the 3rd of July we went to a minor league baseball game. On 4th of July we went out to the little town of Exeter to see the Lions Club's fireworks show. I remember my friend Zack being amazed at the tri-tip my Uncle Fred cooked. Zack was from Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations so he had never tasted tri-tip.

The next Independence Day I remember is 2002. Son #3 had just been born in March and his mother and I took him to see the fireworks over San Francisco Bay. We were on the hill behind the Officer's Club at Ft Mason but there was so much fog on the Bay that the fireworks show was just clouds changing colors. Then we took the bus back to out neighborhood in the Mission District. It took almost an hour and was super crowded with other people trying to get home after the fireworks show.

There were four Independence Days at Fort Ross. I don't remember the exact years. Bisop Tikhon was there for the first one. I remember it because of a thing that happened regarding confession and a young boy. I thought I wrote about it on this blog but I guess not. The next time Cyndi did not go and I rode with the former Treasuerer of the diocese and Anselm's godfather. I learned that God confounded the tasteful by making a postcard icon of the Theotokos weep. The next one was Bishop Benjamin's first time to go. He was the bisop of Berkely then when the park ranger asked him to fire the canon he said, "WOW! NEAT!" The last time I was with Kathleen. I barely remember it because I was a drunk then. I remember there were not many people there that year and we were able to squeeze into the little chapel.

The next Independence Day I remember is 2003. My two oldest sons were with me. We watched the fireworks over the Bay from the top of the hill at Doloros Park whil Cyndi stayed home with son #3.

The next Independence Day I remember is 2004. That was the year we saw the fire works in Cupertino and the little boy got so excited.

The Next Independence Day I remember is in 2008 but I already wrote about it on theis blog.

The next Independence Day I remember is 2014. The boys and I parked outside the the baseball park and watched the fireworks.

The next Independence Day I remember is 2015. I was living in my truck. Anselm was at summer camp. I was working at the YMCA but the YMCA was closed that day. So I picked up Basil and we had BBQ under a redwood tree on the YMCA grounds. We used the little sportmans grill I bought from Williams Sonoma back in 1993 or 1994. All my kids have eaten meat cooked on that grill. To this day, Basil says it was the best Independence Day ever.

The next Independence Day I remeember is 2016. Kathleen and the boys and I went and stayed at the Marriot Hotel in Santa Clara. We were on the side of the hotel facing the Great America park. We watched the fireworks from the balcony.

And now is today. Kathleen, Basil and I are going to the Marriot again. We'll swim in the pool, watch the fireworks from our balcony, and play board games all night long.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Anselm And Basil

I received a postcard from Anselm on Saturday the 19th. He said he is doing well and is allowed to send and recieve mail now. He said Basic Training is easier than he expected. He said it reminds him of Boy Scout camp but with more PT.

Basil and his mother have been sick for most of June. The doctors thought it was covid but the tests came back negative. They don't know that the disease is. She is better now but Basil is still pretty sick. I had planned on taking Basil fishing, crabbing, or shooting almost every day this month while Kathleen has been out of town but it hasn't been possible.

Water Jobs

I have been studying for certification as a water treatment plant and waste water treatment plant operator for a while now and I think I am ready to take the state certification exams. So, as of this week I have begun applying for "Operator in Training" (OIT) jobs around the San Francisco Bay Area. Being an OIT is required for taking the state certifiction exam. And passing the exam must occur during the year one is working as an OIT. I applied for three positions today.

Friday, June 18, 2021

A new holiday

I just found out that "Juneteenth" is a new United States holiday. I had no idea it was even being considered. I am about to say something unpopular and, I am sure, someone is going to say it is racist.

Juneteenth is, to the best of my knowledge, a celebration of good news arriving late or, perhaps, the celebration of the memory of the happiness of the people who received the news that they were freed. I am not aware of anything happening or anyone doing anything on "Juneteeth" that actually freed anyone. And that brings us to the question of what U.S. holidays are for.

Washington's Birthday is to honor the father of our country, and, hopefully, encourage all Americans to emulate his selflessness in service to the United States. Columbus Day holds up the explorer and Almirante del Mar Océan as an example of bravery and historical import who's actions lead to the founding of the United States. The Birthday of Jesus is a United States holiday because he is God and the source of all Law, and thus the foundation of the United States. I could continue on discussing all the holidays, even the somewhat troublesome Labor Day, created to honor the people "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold" and to put a brake on the cancer of Communism in the United States. But what does Juneteenth honor? What does it urge us to do? Deliver messages late? Listen to good news? I think to have made any of the following dates a holiday celebrating emancipation of the slaves would have been better, for these acts really freed slaves. :

Aug 1 - The date general Fremont, a Californian, declared martial law and freed the slaves in Missouri.

September 22 - The date President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which would later free the slaves in captured rebel territory.

January 1 - The date the Emancipation proclamation went into effect.

January 31 - The date the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery was passed by the Congress.

December 6 - The date the 13th Amendment was ratified by the States.

All of these dates point to courageous acts and to people who's examples we should follow.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Why So Many Guns?

Sometimes there will be a person who commits a horrible crime and then the news media reports the story. Often in those news reports there will be a statement such as this, "When they searched the alleged culprits house, police found an arseal of 6 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammuntion." While statements such as that are factual and should be included in a news story, that information is often used in a way that maens "nobody should have that many guns or that much ammo". Now, if all the guns were Barret Model M2A1 and all the ammo is .50 caliber armor piercing tungsten then yes, that would be strange, and possibly an indicator of mental illness. But there are reasons to have more than one gun. Here is an explanation of why a person would want several guns.

Scenario 1. Hunting for tree squirrels in a populated are with little confidence about where a missed shot might land. For that you would use a .177 calibre air gun, such as the Gamo Wildcat or the Benjamin Titan. Even though the pellets leave the barrel of these guns traveling faster than 1,300 feat per second the mass of the pellets is so little that they can only cary a tiny amount of energy, and they quickly lose velocity due to friction against the air. And when the pellet reaches the apex of it's arc and falls to the Earth it has less energy than a pea-sized piece of hail falling from a storm cloud. Additionally, these air rifles have a very short range. The pellets are not going to go very far, 100 yards max, and when they get there they will have too little energy to do anything. Their effective range, meaning the range at which they can damage a squirrel is about 30 yards.

Scenario 2. Rabbit hunting in the scrublands of the American west. A bolt action rifle chambered for .22LR cartridges, such as the CZ American. It delivers much more energy on target than the .177 calibre air rifles do, which is needed for a rabbits greater mass, but not so much energy that the rabbit is varorized, as it would be with a bullet from a larger caliber bullet. And the ammunition for this rifle is very inexpensive. Two summers ago I bought 1,500 rounds for less than $80 though, because of the election and covid, ammo is scarce now and the prices have risen dramatically.

Scenario 3. Pest control on a farm or ranch. With no cover as there is on scrubland, the rancher will not be able to get close enough to the praire dogs and ground squirrls to consistently hit them with a .22LR. That means he will want to use a gun that shoots a .17HMR, such as the Tika T1x MTR. It is designed to hit small targets out to 300 yards with a high-velocity small-calibre bullet shaped for minimum air resistence. Yes, one could use a deer rifle on praie dogs and ground squirrels but the cost of typical deer rifle ammo would be enormous compared to .17 HMR.

Scenario 4. Trap and skeet shooting. Competition rules require that the gun has no more than two rounds loaded at any time. The need for maximum reliability requires no semi-automatic shotguns. The need for maximum speed requires minimum weight and minimum time between shots. That means skeet and trap competitors want short barrels, small gauge, over-under guns, such as the 20 gauge Fausti XF4 Sport with 28-in barrels and an adjustable comb.

Scenario 5. Pig hunting in Texas. In Texas wild pigs are a serious agricultural pest and the government there wants them irradicated. There are almost no rules regarding when or how a person can kill them. If one has the money one can even ride in a helicopter and shoot them from the sky. ( I'm not making that up). Without a doubt the most popular gun to use for pig hunting in Texas is the AR-15 chambered in 5.56mm NATO. The gun's low weight, low recoil, and pistol grip allow for quick transition from target to target. So this gun is ideal for taking on sounders of 20, 30, or 40 pigs.

Scenario 6. Home defense for people living in apartments. No one wants to think about killing another person. But shooting someone might be necessary to defend your spouse or children. But what it you live in an apartment and don't want to accitentally shoot through the wall and hurt your neighbor or your own children. Well, obviousy, the first solution to that problem is don't miss your target. But everyone misses, at least, once in a while. So that rules out all rifles and hand guns. Even a .22 Short will penetrate the typical apartment wall or bedroom door with enough energy to hurt the person on the other side. But there is a solution. A short barreled shotgun loaded with "shorty" rounds. Because of the low energy of shorty rounds they can not be reliably used in semi-auto shotguns, so that leaves two good options. The first is the Mossberg Shockwave. It can hold 7 shorty rounds and because of its tiny size it is very manueverable in cramped indoor spaces. Sadly, this gun is not legal in California, where I sell guns, so I recommend Stoeger Coach Gun, the shortest shotgun legal to own in California, to my customers looking for a houshold defense gun.

Scenario 7. ISSF 50-meter pistol competition. Most competitors who hope to get to the Olympics use the Walther GSP. It is as close to perfect as an ISFF compliant pistol can get.

Scenario 8. Grizzly bear hunting in Alaska. Long shots, very few hunters, and extremly dangerous game require long range powerful rifles that are still light enough to cary on long hikes over rugged country. The gun needed for this scanario is the Winchester Model 70 chambered for .338 Magnum. It is one of the few bullets that can stop a grizzly with one shot. That's important because you do not want to have to contend with a wounded grizzly bear. You might not have time to fire a second time.

Scenario 9. Black Bear hunting in California. Black bears are dangerous but easier to kill than a grizzly bear. And in the forests of California there are more people, which means one should not use a long range rifle such as the Winchester Model 70. Rather, a large calibre brush gun, such a Henry repeater in .45-70 Government calibre. It is massive enough to not be deflected by twigs and small branches but the balistics are such that the bullet loses elevation quickly, so it does not pose much danger to hunters the next valley over if the shot misses the bear. But it will drop the bear.

Scenario 10. Goose hunting on San Francisco Bay. Geese fly high over the bay, and not every shotgun can knock them out of the sky. The gun that does shoots 3" or 3.5" ammo, not the usual 2.75" shotgun ammo. A 26" barrel, commonly used in duck and quail hunting is almost useless when hunting geese. Finaly, U.S. Law prohibits hunting waterfowl with more than 3 rounds in the gun. So, what is the best gun for hunting geese? That is hard to say. A lot depends on the ability of the shooter. A very skilled shooter, who can get off three shots and bring down three geese while two are alrmed and flying away might benefit from using a Baretta A400 Extreme Plus with 30" barrels. If the shooter is of average skill that third shot will be wasted so there is no reason to buy such an expensive gun. In that case the best gun is probably the Stoeger Longfowler with 30" barrels.

Scenario 11. Cowboy Action Shooting. The shooter who competes in this game will use three guns: A 12 gauge double barreled shotgun, such as the Stoeger Coach Gun and Longfowler (mentioned above), a lever action rifle chambered in .30-30 such as the Winchester 1873, and a single action revolver chambered in .45LC calibre, such as the Ruger Vaquero.

And that is how one person can have enough guns to scare news reporters and the people who pay attention to them.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Kissenger Eulogizes Haig (one of an occasional memorial day series)

To avoid plaigerism and lawsuits (this eulogy is not in the public domain) I am providing a link to it. It is much shorter than Lincolns eulogy for Clay.

Hunting Clothes

I work three nights per week at Bass Pro Shops. It's mostly fun and I get a good discount. Some of the stuff we sell is amazing good quality and I use it all the time. But some of the stuff we sell I would NEVER use and some stuff that is made or sold by other companies is so good I feel envy on behalf of my company. I wish we sold that stuff instead of or in addition to the stuff we do sell.

For example, if you are at my store and want to buy hunting clothes, you had better like camoflage patterns because, with the exceprion of one shooting shitrt and upland jeans (I haven't worn jeans since 1993), that is all you are going to find. Now, I have an opinion of camoflage hunting clothes and it is not very favorable. Not only is it unflattering but it is also unnecceasy. Have you looked at what Americans
wore for hunting 70 years ago? It was red plaid from Pendleton and Woolrich, for goodness sake! Only putting sequins on thhose clothes could have made them more visible. (Sadly, Woolrich no longer makes those beutifull red and black plaid jackets and coats.) So, if our forefathers were successful hunters wearing red plaid why do American hunters today think they have to have everyting in Mossy Oak camoflage? It's weird!

Though I wouldn't wear cammo for hunting, I don't think we should stop selling it. There are people who love it, though I do not understand why. I merely think we should sell good looking hunting clothes in addition to the camoflage stuff. Here is a list of the hunting clothing I would add to my store's inventory, if I had the power:

Mens Shirts
Jack Pyke's Countryman Check Shirt
L.L. Bean's Double L Field Shirt
Musto's Classic Twill Shirt
Cording's Tattersall Shirt
Baretta's Selous Sport Shirt
Although my store does sell some nice plaid shirts from the store-owned RedHead brand, I think we should also sell Pendleton shirts because of their extremely high quality and classic standing in American culture.

Women's Shirts
Orvis Pro LT Hunting Shirt
Jack Pyke's Lady's Countryman Shirt
Baretta's Women's TM Field Shirt

Men's Trousers and Breeks
Deerhunter Strike Trousers
Axford Waterproof Lightweight Breeks
Columbia's Ptarmigan Pants

Womens Trousers and Breeks
William Evans Ladies Pall Mall Breeks
Kevin's Huntress Stretch Briar Pants

Ties
All of Jack Pyke's hunting ties
Brooks Brothers Bird Dog Tie
Paolo Albizatti's Hunting Scene Tie

Men's Jackets, waistcoats, and Gillets
Walkeer and Hawkes Derby Tweed Shooting Hunting Country Jacket
The entire gillet collection at the British Tweed Company

Women's Jackets and Waistcoats
Walker and Hawke's Ladies Derby Tweed Shooting Jacket
Alain Paine Rutland Tweed Shooting Coat
The entire range of Walker and Hawke's gillets for women

I have not included many other things, such as boots, gaiters, socks, hats, gloves, scarfs, garters (for breeks), or protective eyewear. Neither have I recommended gear such as bags, gun slips (my store doesn't sell even one leather gun slip!), ammunition wallets, canteens (my store does sell a nice variety of these), knives (we sell some truly excellent knives!), or flasks (only for when the shooting is over). Maybe I'll do another post on those things.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Crabbing and Henry Clay (One in an occasional pre Memorial Day series.)

Basil Wenceslas and I went crabbing in Pacifica today. We didn't catch any crabs we could keep but it was fun to sit on the pier and play chess all day.

It occurs to me that we are fast approaching Memorial day. And, I think a pre-Memorial Day post or two is in order. Therefore...

A Pre Memorial Day Eulogy (One of an occasional series.)

Here in America we are coming up on Memorial Day, which in the 19th Century was called Decoration Day, a day when widows and children of Civil War dead decorated with flowers and flags the graves of the fallen of that horrible bloodletting.

In the 20th Century the Congress changed the name of the day to Memorial Day and designated it for the remembrance of all our war dead, though it took more than a hundred years and several more wars for the number of other wars' dead to equal the number of men who died in the maelstrom of slavery's overthrow.

One man who died, though not in war, after a lifetime of love and service to America was Henry Clay, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky. In Lexington, Kentucky, after the funeral according to the rite of the Episcopal Church on July 10, 1854 about 30,000 people processed on foot with the body of Henry Clay, while church bells tolled, past businesses and houses draped in mourning black, to the graveyard at the edge of town. And there, as he was entombed the Senate Chaplain was quoted, “Burying Henry Clay? Bury the records of your country’s history—bury the hearts of the living millions—bury the mountains, the rivers, the lakes, and the spreading lands from sea to sea, with which his name is inseparably associated, and even then you would not bury HENRY CLAY.”

But Henry Clay died on June 29, and all across the United States memorial gatherings and public orations were organized during what one author called "a ten day festival of public weeping". One of those memorial events was organized by Abraham Lincoln in Springfield Illinois. What follows is Mr. Lincoln's eulogy of Henry Clay.

"On the fourth day of July, 1776, the people of a few feeble and oppressed colonies of Great Britain, inhabiting a portion of the Atlantic coast of North America, publicly declared their national independence, and made their appeal to the justice of their cause, and to the God of battles, for the maintainance of that declaration. That people were few in numbers, and without resources, save only their own wise heads and stout hearts. Within the first year of that declared independence, and while its maintainance was yet problematical -- while the bloody struggle between those resolute rebels, and their haughty would-be-masters, was still waging, of undistinguished parents, and in an obscure district of one of those colonies, Henry Clay was born. The infant nation, and the infant child began the race of life together. For three quarters of a century they have travelled hand in hand. They have been companions ever. The nation has passed its perils, and is free, prosperous, and powerful. The child has reached his manhood, his middle age, his old age, and is dead. In all that has concerned the nation the man ever sympathised; and now the nation mourns for the man.

The day after his death, one of the public Journals, opposed to him politically, held the following pathetic and beautiful language, which I adopt, partly because such high and exclusive eulogy, originating with a political friend, might offend good taste, but chiefly, because I could not, in any language of my own, so well express my thoughts--

"Alas! who can realize that Henry Clay is dead! Who can realize that never again that majestic form shall rise in the council-chambers of his country to beat back the storms of anarchy which may threaten, or pour the oil of peace upon the troubled billows as they rage and menace around? Who can realize, that the workings of that mighty mind have ceased -- that the throbbings of that gallant heart are stilled -- that the mighty sweep of that graceful arm will be felt no more, and the magic of that eloquent tongue, which spake as spake no other tongue besides, is hushed -- hushed forever! Who can realize that freedom's champion -- the champion of a civilized world, and of all tongues and kindreds and people, has indeed fallen! Alas, in those dark hours, which, as they come in the history of all nations, must come in ours -- those hours of peril and dread which our land has experienced, and which she may be called to experience again -- to whom now may her people look up for that counsel and advice, which only wisdom and experience and patriotism can give, and which only the undoubting confidence of a nation will receive? Perchance, in the whole circle of the great and gifted of our land, there remains but one on whose shoulders the mighty mantle of the departed statesman may fall -- one, while we now write, is doubtless pouring his tears over the bier of his brother and his friend -- brother, friend ever, yet in political sentiment, as far apart as party could make them. Ah, it is at times like these, that the petty distinctions of mere party disappear. We see only the great, the grand, the noble features of the departed statesman; and we do not even beg permission to bow at his feet and mingle our tears with those who have ever been his political adherents -- we do [not?] beg this permission -- we claim it as a right, though we feel it as a privilege. Henry Clay belonged to his country -- to the world, mere party cannot claim men like him. His career has been national -- his fame has filled the earth -- his memory will endure to `the last syllable of recorded time.'

"Henry Clay is dead! -- He breathed his last on yesterday at twenty minutes after eleven, in his chamber at Washington. To those who followed his lead in public affairs, it more appropriately belongs to pronounce his eulogy, and pay specific honors to the memory of the illustrious dead -- but all Americans may show the grief which his death inspires, for, his character and fame are national property. As on a question of liberty, he knew no North, no South, no East, no West, but only the Union, which held them all in its sacred circle, so now his countrymen will know no grief, that is not as wide-spread as the bounds of the confederacy. The career of Henry Clay was a public career. From his youth he has been devoted to the public service, at a period too, in the world's history justly regarded as a remarkable era in human affairs. He witnessed in the beginning the throes of the French Revolution. He saw the rise and fall of Napoleon. He was called upon to legislate for America, and direct her policy when all Europe was the battle-field of contending dynasties, and when the struggle for supremacy imperilled the rights of all neutral nations. His voice, spoke war and peace in the contest with Great Britain.

"When Greece rose against the Turks and struck for liberty, his name was mingled with the battle-cry of freedom. When South America threw off the thraldom of Spain, his speeches were read at the head of her armies by Bolivar. His name has been, and will continue to be, hallowed in two hemispheres, for it is--

`One of the few the immortal names That were not born to die,' "To the ardent patriot and profound statesman, he added a quality possessed by few of the gifted on earth. His eloquence has not been surpassed. In the effective power to move the heart of man, Clay was without an equal, and the heaven born endowment, in the spirit of its origin, has been most conspicuously exhibited against intestine feud. On at least three important occasions, he has quelled our civil commotions, by a power and influence, which belonged to no other statesman of his age and times. And in our last internal discord, when this Union trembled to its center -- in old age, he left the shades of private life and gave the death blow to fraternal strife, with the vigor of his earlier years in a series of Senatorial efforts, which in themselves would bring immortality, by challenging comparison with the efforts of any statesman in any age. He exorcised the demon which possessed the body politic, and gave peace to a distracted land. Alas! the achievement cost him his life! He sank day by day to the tomb -- his pale, but noble brow, bound with a triple wreath, put there by a grateful country. May his ashes rest in peace, while his spirit goes to take its station among the great and good men who preceded him!"

While it is customary, and proper, upon occasions like the present, to give a brief sketch of the life of the deceased, in the case of Mr. Clay, it is less necessary than most others; for his biography has been written and re-written, and read, and re-read, for the last twenty-five years; so that, with the exception of a few of the latest incidents of his life, all is as well known, as it can be. The short sketch which I give is, therefore merely to maintain the connection of this discourse.

Henry Clay was born on the 12th of April 1777, in Hanover County, Virginia. Of his father, who died in the fourth or fifth year of Henry's age, little seems to be known, except that he was a respectable man, and a preacher of the baptist persuasion. Mr. Clay's education, to the end of his life, was comparatively limited. I say "to the end of his life," because I have understood that, from time to time, he added something to his education during the greater part of his whole life. Mr. Clay's lack of a more perfect early education, however it may be regretted generally, teaches at least one profitable lesson; it teaches that in this country, one can scarcely be so poor, but that, if he will, he can acquire sufficient education to get through the world respectably. In his twenty-third year Mr. Clay was licenced to practice law, and emigrated to Lexington, Kentucky. Here he commenced and continued the practice till the year 1803, when he was first elected to the Kentucky Legislature. By successive elections he was continued in the Legislature till the latter part of 1806, when he was elected to fill a vacancy, of a single session, in the United States Senate. In 1807 he was again elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives, and by that body, chosen its Speaker. In 1808 he was re-elected to the same body. In 1809 he was again chosen to fill a vacancy of two years in the United States Senate. In 1811 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, and on the first day of taking his seat in that body, he was chosen its speaker. In 1813 he was again elected Speaker. Early in 1814, being the period of our last British war, Mr. Clay was sent as commissioner, with others, to negotiate a treaty of peace, which treaty was concluded in the latter part of the same year. On his return from Europe he was again elected to the lower branch of Congress, and on taking his seat in December 1815 was called to his old post -- the speaker's chair, a position in which he was retained by successive elections, with one brief intermission, till the inauguration of John Q. Adams in March 1825. He was then appointed Secretary of State, and occupied that important station till the inauguration of Gen. Jackson in March 1829. After this he returned to Kentucky, resumed the practice of the law, and continued it till the Autumn of 1831, when he was by the legislature of Kentucky, again placed in the United States Senate. By a re-election he continued in the Senate till he resigned his seat, and retired, in March 1848. In December 1849 he again took his seat in the Senate, which he again resigned only a few months before his death.

By the foregoing it is perceived that the period from the beginning of Mr. Clay's official life, in 1803, to the end of it in 1852, is but one year short of half a century; and that the sum of all the intervals in it, will not amount to ten years. But mere duration of time in office, constitutes the smallest part of Mr. Clay's history. Throughout that long period, he has constantly been the most loved, and most implicitly followed by friends, and the most dreaded by opponents, of all living American politicians. In all the great questions which have agitated the country, and particularly in those great and fearful crises, the Missouri question -- the Nullification question, and the late slavery question, as connected with the newly acquired territory, involving and endangering the stability of the Union, his has been the leading and most conspicuous part. In 1824 he was first a candidate for the Presidency, and was defeated; and, although he was successively defeated for the same office in 1832 and in 1844, there has never been a moment since 1824 till after 1848 when a very large portion of the American people did not cling to him with an enthusiastic hope and purpose of still elevating him to the Presidency. With other men, to be defeated, was to be forgotten; but to him, defeat was but a trifling incident, neither changing him, or the world's estimate of him. Even those of both political parties who have been preferred to him for the highest office, have run far briefer courses than he, and left him, still shining high in the heavens of the political world. Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Polk, and Taylor, all rose after, and set long before him. The spell -- the long enduring spell -- with which the souls of men were bound to him, is a miracle. Who can compass it? It is probably true he owed his pre-eminence to no one quality, but to a fortunate combination of several. He was surpassingly eloquent; but many eloquent men fail utterly; and they are not, as a class, generally successful. His judgment was excellent; but many men of good judgment, live and die unnoticed. His will was indomitable; but this quality often secures to its owner nothing better than a character for useless obstinacy. These then were Mr. Clay's leading qualities. No one of them is very uncommon; but all taken together are rarely combined in a single individual; and this is probably the reason why such men as Henry Clay are so rare in the world.

Mr. Clay's eloquence did not consist, as many fine specimens of eloquence does [do], of types and figures -- of antithesis, and elegant arrangement of words and sentences; but rather of that deeply earnest and impassioned tone, and manner, which can proceed only from great sincerity and a thorough conviction, in the speaker of the justice and importance of his cause. This it is, that truly touches the chords of sympathy; and those who heard Mr. Clay never failed to be moved by it, or ever afterwards, forgot the impression. All his efforts were made for practical effect. He never spoke merely to be heard. He never delivered a Fourth of July oration, or an eulogy on an occasion like this. As a politician or statesman, no one was so habitually careful to avoid all sectional ground. Whatever he did, he did for the whole country. In the construction of his measures he ever carefully surveyed every part of the field, and duly weighed every conflicting interest. Feeling, as he did, and as the truth surely is, that the world's best hope depended on the continued Union of these States, he was ever jealous of, and watchful for, whatever might have the slightest tendency to separate them.

Mr. Clay's predominant sentiment, from first to last, was a deep devotion to the cause of human liberty -- a strong sympathy with the oppressed everywhere, and an ardent wish for their elevation. With him, this was a primary and all controlling passion. Subsidiary to this was the conduct of his whole life. He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its advancement, prosperity and glory, because he saw in such, the advancement, prosperity and glory, of human liberty, human right and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to the world that freemen could be prosperous.

That his views and measures were always the wisest, needs not to be affirmed; nor should it be, on this occasion, where so many, thinking differently, join in doing honor to his memory. A free people, in times of peace and quiet -- when pressed by no common danger -- naturally divide into parties. At such times the man who is of neither party, is not -- cannot be, of any consequence. Mr. Clay, therefore, was of a party. Taking a prominent part, as he did, in all the great political questions of his country for the last half century, the wisdom of his course on many, is doubted and denied by a large portion of his countrymen; and of such it is not now proper to speak particularly. But there are many others, about his course upon which, there is little or no disagreement amongst intelligent and patriotic Americans. Of these last are the War of 1812, the Missouri question, Nullification, and the now recent compromise measures. In 1812 Mr. Clay, though not unknown, was still a young man. Whether we should go to war with Great Britain, being the question of the day, a minority opposed the declaration of war by Congress, while the majority, though apparently inclining to war, had, for years, wavered, and hesitated to act decisively. Meanwhile British aggressions multiplied, and grew more daring and aggravated. By Mr. Clay, more than any other man, the struggle was brought to a decision in Congress. The question, being now fully before congress, came up, in a variety of ways, in rapid succession, on most of which occasions Mr. Clay spoke. Adding to all the logic, of which the subject was susceptible, that noble inspiration, which came to him as it came to no other, he aroused, and nerved, and inspired his friends, and confounded and bore-down all opposition. Several of his speeches, on these occasions, were reported, and are still extant; but the best of these all never was. During its delivery the reporters forgot their vocations, dropped their pens, and sat enchanted from near the beginning to quite the close. The speech now lives only in the memory of a few old men; and the enthusiasm with which they cherish their recollection of it is absolutely astonishing. The precise language of this speech we shall never know; but we do know -- we cannot help knowing -- that, with deep pathos, it pleaded the cause of the injured sailor -- that it invoked the genius of the revolution -- that it apostrophised the names of Otis, of Henry and of Washington -- that it appealed to the interest, the pride, the honor and the glory of the nation -- that it shamed and taunted the timidity of friends -- that it scorned, and scouted, and withered the temerity of domestic foes -- that it bearded and defied the British Lion -- and rising, and swelling, and maddening in its course, it sounded the onset, till the charge, the shock, the steady struggle, and the glorious victory, all passed in vivid review before the entranced hearers.

Important and exciting as was the war question, of 1812, it never so alarmed the sagacious statesmen of the country for the safety of the republic, as afterwards did the Missouri question. This sprang from that unfortunate source of discord -- negro slavery. When our Federal Constitution was adopted, we owned no territory beyond the limits or ownership of the States, except the territory North-West of the River Ohio, and east of the Mississippi. What has since been formed into the States of Maine, Kentucky, and Tennessee, was, I believe, within the limits of or owned by Massachusetts, Virginia, and North Carolina. As to the North Western Territory, provision had been made, even before the adoption of the Constitution, that slavery should never go there. On the admission of the States into the Union carved from the territory we owned before the constitution, no question -- or at most, no considerable question -- arose about slavery -- those which were within the limits of or owned by the old states, following, respectively, the condition of the parent state, and those within the North West territory, following the previously made provision. But in 1803 we purchased Louisiana of the French; and it included with much more, what has since been formed into the State of Missouri. With regard to it, nothing had been done to forestall the question of slavery. When, therefore, in 1819, Missouri, having formed a State constitution, without excluding slavery, and with slavery already actually existing within its limits, knocked at the door of the Union for admission, almost the entire representation of the non-slave-holding states, objected. A fearful and angry struggle instantly followed. This alarmed thinking men, more than any previous question, because, unlike all the former, it divided the country by geographical lines. Other questions had their opposing partizans in all localities of the country and in almost every family; so that no division of the Union could follow such, without a separation of friends, to quite as great an extent, as that of opponents. Not so with the Missouri question. On this a geographical line could be traced which, in the main, would separate opponents only. This was the danger. Mr. Jefferson, then in retirement, wrote:

"I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or to pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened, and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, co-inciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived, and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every irritation will mark it deeper and deeper. I can say, with conscious truth, that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way. The cession of that kind of property, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not cost me a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipation, and expatriation could be effected; and, gradually, and with due sacrifices I think it might be. But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other."

Mr. Clay was in congress, and, perceiving the danger, at once engaged his whole energies to avert it. It began, as I have said, in 1819; and it did not terminate till 1821. Missouri would not yield the point; and congress -- that is, a majority in congress -- by repeated votes, showed a determination to not admit the state unless it should yield. After several failures, and great labor on the part of Mr. Clay to so present the question that a majority could consent to the admission, it was, by a vote, rejected, and as all seemed to think, finally. A sullen gloom hung over the nation. All felt that the rejection of Missouri, was equivalent to a dissolution of the Union, because those states which already had, what Missouri was rejected for refusing to relinquish, would go with Missouri. All deprecated and deplored this, but none saw how to avert it. For the judgment of Members to be convinced of the necessity of yielding, was not the whole difficulty; each had a constituency to meet, and to answer to. Mr. Clay, though worn down, and exhausted, was appealed to by members, to renew his efforts at compromise. He did so, and by some judicious modifications of his plan, coupled with laborious efforts with individual members, and his own over-mastering eloquence upon the floor, he finally secured the admission of the State. Brightly, and captivating as it had previously shown, it was now perceived that his great eloquence, was a mere embellishment, or, at most, but a helping hand to his inventive genius, and his devotion to his country in the day of her extreme peril.

After the settlement of the Missouri question, although a portion of the American people have differed with Mr. Clay, and a majority even, appear generally to have been opposed to him on questions of ordinary administration, he seems constantly to have been regarded by all, as the man for a crisis. Accordingly, in the days of Nullification, and more recently in the re-appearance of the slavery question, connected with our territory newly acquired of Mexico, the task of devising a mode of adjustment, seems to have been cast upon Mr. Clay, by common consent -- and his performance of the task, in each case, was little else than, a literal fulfilment of the public expectation.

Mr. Clay's efforts in behalf of the South Americans, and afterwards, in behalf of the Greeks, in the times of their respective struggles for civil liberty are among the finest on record, upon the noblest of all themes; and bear ample corroboration of what I have said was his ruling passion -- a love of liberty and right, unselfishly, and for their own sakes.

Having been led to allude to domestic slavery so frequently already, I am unwilling to close without referring more particularly to Mr. Clay's views and conduct in regard to it. He ever was on principle and in feeling, opposed to slavery. The very earliest, and one of the latest public efforts of his life, separated by a period of more than fifty years, were both made in favor of gradual emancipation of the slaves in Kentucky. He did not perceive, that on a question of human right, the negroes were to be excepted from the human race. And yet Mr. Clay was the owner of slaves. Cast into life where slavery was already widely spread and deeply seated, he did not perceive, as I think no wise man has perceived, how it could be at once eradicated, without producing a greater evil, even to the cause of human liberty itself. His feeling and his judgment, therefore, ever led him to oppose both extremes of opinion on the subject. Those who would shiver into fragments the Union of these States; tear to tatters its now venerated constitution; and even burn the last copy of the Bible, rather than slavery should continue a single hour, together with all their more halting sympathisers, have received, and are receiving their just execration; and the name, and opinions, and influence of Mr. Clay, are fully, and, as I trust, effectually and enduringly, arrayed against them. But I would also, if I could, array his name, opinions, and influence against the opposite extreme -- against a few, but an increasing number of men, who, for the sake of perpetuating slavery, are beginning to assail and to ridicule the white man's charter of freedom -- the declaration that "all men are created free and equal." So far as I have learned, the first American, of any note, to do or attempt this, was the late John C. Calhoun; and if I mistake not, it soon after found its way into some of the messages of the Governors of South Carolina. We, however, look for, and are not much shocked by, political eccentricities and heresies in South Carolina. But, only last year, I saw with astonishment, what purported to be a letter of a very distinguished and influential clergyman of Virginia, copied, with apparent approbation, into a St. Louis newspaper, containing the following, to me, very extraordinary language--

"I am fully aware that there is a text in some Bibles that is not in mine. Professional abolitionists have made more use of it, than of any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson, and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority, 'All men are born free and equal.'

"This is a genuine coin in the political currency of our generation. I am sorry to say that I have never seen two men of whom it is true. But I must admit I never saw the Siamese twins, and therefore will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a proof of this sage aphorism."

This sounds strangely in republican America. The like was not heard in the fresher days of the Republic. Let us contrast with it the language of that truly national man, whose life and death we now commemorate and lament. I quote from a speech of Mr. Clay delivered before the American Colonization Society in 1827.

"We are reproached with doing mischief by the agitation of this question. The society goes into no household to disturb its domestic tranquility; it addresses itself to no slaves to weaken their obligations of obedience. It seeks to affect no man's property. It neither has the power nor the will to affect the property of any one contrary to his consent. The execution of its scheme would augment instead of diminishing the value of the property left behind. The society, composed of free men, concerns itself only with the free. Collateral consequences we are not responsible for. It is not this society which has produced the great moral revolution which the age exhibits. What would they, who thus reproach us, have done? If they would repress all tendencies towards liberty, and ultimate emancipation, they must do more than put down the benevolent efforts of this society. They must go back to the era of our liberty and independence, and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return. They must renew the slave trade with all its train of atrocities. They must suppress the workings of British philanthropy, seeking to meliorate the condition of the unfortunate West Indian slave. They must arrest the career of South American deliverance from thraldom. They must blow out the moral lights around us, and extinguish that greatest torch of all which America presents to a benighted world -- pointing the way to their rights, their liberties, and their happiness. And when they have achieved all those purposes their work will be yet incomplete. They must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate the light of reason, and the love of liberty. Then, and not till then, when universal darkness and despair prevail, can you perpetuate slavery, and repress all sympathy, and all humane, and benevolent efforts among free men, in behalf of the unhappy portion of our race doomed to bondage."

The American Colonization Society was organized in 1816. Mr. Clay, though not its projector, was one of its earliest members; and he died, as for the many preceding years he had been, its President. It was one of the most cherished objects of his direct care and consideration; and the association of his name with it has probably been its very greatest collateral support. He considered it no demerit in the society, that it tended to relieve slave-holders from the troublesome presence of the free negroes; but this was far from being its whole merit in his estimation. In the same speech from which I have quoted he says: "There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her children, whose ancestors have been torn from her by the ruthless hand of fraud and violence. Transplanted in a foreign land, they will carry back to their native soil the rich fruits of religion, civilization, law and liberty. May it not be one of the great designs of the Ruler of the universe, (whose ways are often inscrutable by short-sighted mortals,) thus to transform an original crime, into a signal blessing to that most unfortunate portion of the globe?" This suggestion of the possible ultimate redemption of the African race and African continent, was made twenty-five years ago. Every succeeding year has added strength to the hope of its realization. May it indeed be realized! Pharaoh's country was cursed with plagues, and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea for striving to retain a captive people who had already served them more than four hundred years. May like disasters never befall us! If as the friends of colonization hope, the present and coming generations of our countrymen shall by any means, succeed in freeing our land from the dangerous presence of slavery; and, at the same time, in restoring a captive people to their long-lost father-land, with bright prospects for the future; and this too, so gradually, that neither races nor individuals shall have suffered by the change, it will indeed be a glorious consummation. And if, to such a consummation, the efforts of Mr. Clay shall have contributed, it will be what he most ardently wished, and none of his labors will have been more valuable to his country and his kind.

But Henry Clay is dead. His long and eventful life is closed. Our country is prosperous and powerful; but could it have been quite all it has been, and is, and is to be, without Henry Clay? Such a man the times have demanded, and such, in the providence of God was given us. But he is gone. Let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that, in future national emergencies, He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.

Monday, May 17, 2021

The Little Boy Left today.

It has been awhirlwind of activity since Lazarus Saturday. I attended more of the Holy Week Services than ever before. Cooked an unbelieveable amount of food, went crabbing in Pacifica, have been working (teaching math during the day and selling guns at night) every day but Sundays. Saturday we all went shooting, Sunday we went to church, And today my son Anselm Samuel went off to the Navy. I hope I did a good job.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Beans and Holy Unction

Tonight for dinner we had beans. But not just any beans. We had GIANT BEANS FROM GREECE! Fr. Basil introduced me to them a couple of weeks ago. I love them. Sadly, no one else in the house loved them.

After dinner I took Basil on another mini-pilgrimage. Tonight we went to St. Stepen Orthodox Church in Campbell. They were doing Holy Unction. Much wonderfulness.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Bridegroom Matins at St. Herman of Alaska

Last night Anselm, Kathleen, and I (Basil is concurrently enrolled in high school and college and is weighed down with much academic work, so he didn't go.) went to St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church in Sunnyvale for Bridegroom Matins. It's a ROCOR parish so I expected there to be a lot of Slavonic but there wasn't any at all. My little OCA parish in Saratoga, St. Nicholas uses more Slavonic than we heard last night. St Herman has a gorgeous building, and the choir is pretty good, though it is heavily loaded with altos and soprannos. They need some Bassas and tenors, but as Donald Rumsfeld said, "you go to war with the army you have not the army you wish you had". One thing I really appreciated is that all the readers read perfectly: not too fast, not too slow, every word annunciated clearly.

After we got home from church I had lots of homework for my water classes to do. I was up till 2 am. Then I went to bed and couldn't sleep fom the excitement of Holy Week. So at 4 am I took a spoon of NyQuil. BIG MISTAKE! I slept to 1:30. We'll that puts me behind schedule for the day. Have to run out and get the red egg dys (using onion skins is too hard.) atInternational Food Bazaar.

Oh! Why did we go to St Herman last night? Because during Lent and Holy Week we are going on mini-pilgrimages to the different parishes in the area. A few night ago we visted St. Lawrence in Felton and tonight, I think Nativity in Menlo Park is on the schedule.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday

On Lazarus Saturday I made Grandfathrs cioppino but since it wasn't a Fish Day we we left the fish out of the recipe. Also, I couldnt find any crabs. Essentially, it was the same recipe but we used scallops, clams, and shrimp instead of all the animals called for in the original recipe. It was still good. And because Lazarus Saturday is the only caviar day during any of the Church's fasting periods, we had caviar. We served it on slices of English cucumber with avocodo and chive. It was the first time in many years I didn't order from Marky's but that's okay. Also, because finances are tight for me (lack of work due to the Covid) I only bought the least expensive edible fish eggs I could find in a local store but it was still very good. The boys and Kathleen enjoyed it. After dinner I had to go to work but Kathleen and the boys went to the festal vigil for Palm Sunday.

On Sunday the boys and I went to church. It was a glorious service. Anselm and I carried the palms branches during the procession around the church. After the service I picked up the paskha and kulich I ordered. I am not making my own this year but bought it from the parish fundraiser. THe woman in the parish who makes it does a good job. Her paskah is better than mine but I think my kulich is better than hers. It balances out. Also, the parish needs the money.

After church we came back home and and I fried up crab cakes and served them with a corn and pineapple salsa as a snack. Then got to work making dinner. THere was a cucumber tomato and red onion salad dressed with soy sause and rice vinegar, grilled tuna steaks, roasted potatoes with garlic cumin parsley black epper and thyme, and a fruit macedonia. While Anselm was getting the coals ready Basilwent out to the garden and turned the compost pile.

Speaking of the garden, here are some pictures Kathleen took yseterday.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Planting and The Great Canon

This morning I worked in the garden. I guess, really, it is two gardens. The small one is right outside the front door. It has three grape vines a lemon tree, rosemary, thyme (It started bolting a few days ago. I don't really know what to do about it. I think I'll just let it so I can learn what happens.), two potted tomato plants, and the green houses which still have a lot of seedlings in them. We just ate a lemon off that tree yesterday and it has dozens more growing. It's only 6 feet tall and, maybe 5 feet wide. I think its going to be one of those house-sized lemon trees so we are going to have to keep it pruned back because the growing area is small. The grape vines woke up from their winter nap and are putting out lots and lots of new leaves and starting to grow over the porch again. There is a jasmine growing up the other end of the porch. And there is a pot of strawberries. I didn't think the strawberry plants would survive the winter but they did.

The second garden is the one I usually write about. Yesterday two neighbor kids, Elijah (6) and Zachariah (4) helped me transplant some tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplants from the green house to some of the beds. Their mother died 2 weeks ago so they live with theor grandmother now, six doors down. The socond garden is just crammed withplants now. The plantings are more dense than we've ever tried in previous years: For example, just one 4x8 bed has 3 bush tomato plants, 3 cherry tomato plants, 3 other tomato plants, 1 spaghetti squash vine, 1 eggplant, a zucchini, and radishes planted around the edge of the planter box. And we have three more boxes crammed with tomatoes, squash, poppies, sunflowers, chilis, eggplants, tomatillos, and radishes, And then there are 2 wash tubs growing beens and peas, a trash can with 7 cucumber vines growing out of it, a watering trough full of tomato vines and radishes, and lots of other pots and barrels growing zucchini, musk melons, spaghetti squash, tomatillos, ceyenne peppers, sunflowers (the first one opened up yesterday.). And along the fence are the two apple trees (i love the smell of the blossoms), sunflowers, poppies, ragweed, bee balm, and otherflowers. It's so much fun just to go out there and watch it all grow. Today I transplanted four more spaghetti squash vines from the green house to one of the beds in the big garden.

Tonight, Anselm, Basil and I went to church for the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete with the Life of St. Mary of Egypt. Wow! What amazing people those two are. What a beautiful service. Sadly, Basil sprained one of his thumbs during a prostration. After the service the priest prayed for the thumb and Anselm immobilized the thumb with an Ace bandage. We are going to try to visit four other parishes between tonight and Pascha. It is so good to be able to be back in church again.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Shooting with Son #3

Anselm Samuel (AKA the little boy) and I went shooting today. I bought a Stoeger Longfowler for myself because my Stevens side-by-side is almost a hundred years old and can't take the pressures of modern ammo. Today I broke in my new gun. It's not as pretty or high tech as the Mossberg Silver Reserve I bought for Kathleen but it is servicable, the price was right, and I don't have to wory about it breaking every time I pull the trigger, like I do with the old Stevens. So, Anselm and I went to Coyote Valley Sporting Clays today. He shot Kathleen's gun and I shot the new Longfowler. It was a lot of fun. He had a good day, hitting about 75% of his clays. I didn't have a very good day. I only hit about 50%. I'll blame it on getting used to a new gun.
I can hardly wait for next duck season.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Old Stomping Grounds

My son, Anslem and I went hunting up in the Mendocino National Forest. There is a population of Merriam's turkeys on Mount Hull we were going to hunt but the daybefore we got there the California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the area to hunters. I don't know how they can do that in a U.S. Forest; maybe CDFW has some kind of agreement with the U.S. Forst Service. So, our hunting trip turned into a camping trip. It was fun even if we got no turkies or pigs. (Pigs were our secondary prey but we learned from a local that in the last 10 years a growing mountain lion population eats all the piglets and they never get a chance to reproduce, so no more pigs in the forest.) We saw a two large heards of elk, a bald eagle, Great blue herons, wood ducks, chipmunks, rabbits, geese, and lots more besides. We wee there during the super moon event so it was light all night.
On the way home I took Anslem by the place I lived from October 1979 to October 1981 when I was a boy of 10, 11, and 12. Ukiah. The population has increased 16,000 since I lived there when the population was 12,000. Lots of car dealerships and fast food and convenience stores are on State Street that were not there when I was a kid. Several indoor growing and hydroponic stores serve the marijuana industry. The strip mall that was named The Pear Tree Center is gone, as are all the pear trees. They've been replaced by vinyards. (I saw my first big marijuana farm in a little valley between the forest and Ukiah. I guess that explains all the new car dealerships and other businesses) In place of the Pear Tree center is a new shopping center with a Staples and a Wal-Mart. The Staples surprised me. The town only has 16,000 people. How much office furniture and printer paper can it buy? I saw The Forks Cafe where my Dad ate lunch almost every day. And the Forks Ranch Market. where I used to buy my National Lampoon's and Mad magazines.

Of Course, I took Anselm by the house I used to live in and showed him the church my Dad pastored. Strangly, they have changed the name of the church. When my Dad took the pulpit there in 1979 he asked the board to change the name from Calvary Temple to Calvary Way because of the recent mass suicide of the members of Jim Jones' Peoples Temple. (A lot of people do not remember that before Peoples Temple went to Guyana to die, but after they left San Francisco, they stopped in the Ukiah area for a few years.) The word temple was thought to be off-putting after the suicides. Now the church has changed its name to Legacy Church. I wonder what was the thinking behind that decision? Protestant church names are complicated; not nearly as straigforward as Orthodox parish names. The bishop picks a saint or a feast that doesn't already have a parish in the diocese assigned to it and that's all there is to it. It doesn't change.

The Forks Market, the Forks Cafe, and the Parducci Winery were all within walking distance of the church and the pasronage I lived in with my parents. The Parducci winery was one of my favorite places. I loved the smell of the crush in the fall. I spent many hours playing in the vinyards with farm workers kids. I ate a lot of grapes. Every year before Christmas the church kids would sell ceramic bells to raise money to go to summer camp, and I would take my box of bells up to the winery and Mrs. Parducci would have everyone in the place buy a bell. They were good neighbors. Sadly, they sold out to a big wine company. I don't think the Parducci family is there anymore. Just their name.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Birds And Lent

February was so warm that in the first week on March we planted all the boxes, half-half barrels, and pots full of of seedlings. We didn't count on the birds. It seems that in other years when we planted our garden in April or May there was lots of food around for the birds to eat. But that is not the case in March. The birds ate everything down to the ground, except a few tomato plants. Then there was hail. Thankfully, we still have a lot of seedlings growing in the greenhouses.
The only Lenten services I've been to, so far, are Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday night and the first night of the Great Canon. My boys are going to confession tonight. But I have to work. (I'm getting more hours at Bass Pro Shops).
School is going well for me. Gosh, I can't believe I just wrote that. Hopefully, when I finish this program (this time next year) I will never be a student again. But, as I said, it is going well.
Yesterday was Kathleen's birthday. I gave her a leather-bound Orthodox Study Bible and two boxes of CCI rat-shot for her Rough Rider.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Crabbing and Gardening

On Saturday, Kathleen, the boys and I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge (Did you know that Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico is the first person to draw up plans for and promote the bridge?) to go crabbing at Ft. Baker. The sea lions kept raiding our traps but the boys did take one rock crab home to eat. After that we drove home, stopping in Chinatown, where I got steamed pork buns for the boys and Kathleen. It reminded me of Pascha 2009. It was Kathleen's first time to have them. She was amazed.
On Sunday, Kathleen and I went to Church then worked in the gaarden. We took out the last of the onions, lettuce, kale, and garlic, though we did leave one big pot of beets growing.
On Monday we took all the soil out the beds and put about 3-4 inches of straw in the bottoms of the beds, returned the soil to the beds, fertilized with bone meal, amonium nitrate, and magnesium sulfate. Finaly, we covered everything with the compost we've been making since this time last year.
Yesterday, Tuesday we moved plants from the green houses to the garden: 28 tomato plants (lots of varities), 4 spaghetti squash vines, 5 zuchinni plants (mix of green and yellow varieties), 5 wathermelon vines, beans and peas, 5 cucumber vines, and 4 eggplant bushes.
Today I am putting in another apple tree. We already have a honey crisp sappling in the ground but the one I am putting in today is a granny smith. I think it's funny to be planting trees at my age. Well, after I'm dead people will enjoy them, I hope.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Snow and Germination

Basil at Tahoe Donner
Today is Friday.  On Monday of this week the boys and i went up to the snow.  Anselm and  did most of the driving on the way there.  We stayed at Tahoe Biltmore for two nights.  The room only had two beds so Anselm paid Basil $10 to sleep on the floor.  It's a good thing I packed three wool army blankets. 

We didn't eat out on the trip.  Instead, I packed a
Anselm at Boreal
Molinari salami
 (I used to live a block away from them in North Beach back in the mid 1990s) half a boiled ham, some sour dough bread, some dry jack, brie, mustard, turkey salad, 12 bottles of San Pellegrino and a box of navel oranges.  Clearly, I packed too much food.

On Tuesday we went to Boreal where Anselm skied and Basil and I rode down the mountain on giant inner tubes.  I was a lot of fun.  After a couple of hours Anselm was still skiing but Basil and I were tired so we went to Tahoe Donner (Kathleen is a member and made a reservation for us) to use the pool/hot tub/steam room.  But there is Covid and the hot tub and steam room were closed.  So were the showers and lockers.  About Covid:  It has turned the north sore of Lake Tahoe into a ghost town.  There were only 4 occupied rooms in our hotel and Boreal was almost empty; my guess is there were fewer than 150 people on the slopes..  Hardly anyone is up there.  The boys were asleep by 7 that night and didn't wake up until 7 on Wednesday morning.  Then we drove home.

On Thursday Kathleen and I replanted about 32 of the little 168 pots in the our green houses.  For some
reason those 32 never germinated.  Something else about the garden: Kathleen advertised our seedlings for sale and demand is more than 10 times what we have planted.  Everyone wants the heirloom tomatoes.  I think we might have stumbled into a business!





Friday, February 12, 2021

Late January and Early February

Anselm, San Francisco Bay
Duck season Don Edwards ended on January 31.  Before the end of the season my son Anslem and I went out shooting a couple of times.  I lost my license and federal duck stamp so the last couple of times I didn't shoot.  But Anselm did and he had fun.  He cooked one pintail breast but but didn't like it.

duck breast

My birthday was fun.  Kathleen, her kids, and my kids threw me a surprise party with liver from Original Joe's and  carrot cake from Nothing Bund't Cakes.

Work is still not great.  Because of the government's covid response I am getting very few hours at Bass Pro Shops and I've only had one substitute assignment since October.  I've been applying for other jobs but not getting them.  So, I've gone back to school. I think I mentioned taking a waste water management class from Evergreen Valley College this time last year.  This year I decided to jump in with both feet and enroll at Gavilan College full-time.  Their waste water program is much better than Evergreen's and it is, because of Covid, all on online.  

The green houses Kathleen put on the front porch are doing amazing.  We will have to start transplanting soon.




Saturday, January 16, 2021

Duck Hunting and Tragedy in the Garden

One of the things I have enjoyed about COVID is all the time I get to spend with my kids.  Just this morning the three of us went duck hunting on San Francisco Bay.  Much fun.  Also very important since Anselm is leaving for the Navy in 4 months.   Last night after dinner (They spent the night since we had to leave the house before dawn this morning.) we talked about stewardship and the importance of planning giving and not just handing out money to everyone who asks for it.  (Because they are inexperienced and have very few financial needs, young sailors and soldiers are often targeted by various charities.) So I told him about the OCMC and FOCUS:NA, and encouraged him to talk with our priest about other giving opportunities before he leaves to go to be a submariner.  I also made sure the boys saw me write 3 checks to our parish for various things.  I explained to them what the checks were for, and told them about Malachi 3:8-10.  And I talked with them about God's mercy because when we give money to the poor r to the Church, or do charities we will often do it then think of ourselves as good men for doing it, or how we've done it hoping someone will see us do it and thing highly of us  - that even the good things we do are polluted by sin.  Thus we ask God to show us His mercy.  As for ducks there were none, and the geese were flying too high to shoot.  But it was a good time boating around on the bay.

A few days ago Kathleen and I started a bunch more seeds in little pots.  Most of them have sprouted.  Altogether we have almost two hundred little seedlings of various kinds.  But now we have a problem:  I wrote the names of each kind and variety we planted on the outside of each of the little bio-degradable pots. Why is that a problem?  Because when watered the pots begin to decompose and I can no longer read what I wrote on more than 70% of the pots.  I planted six varieties of squash in about 25 pots but have no idea exactly which variety is in which pot.  I have the same situation with cukes, melons, zukes, peas, and tomatoes.  The only things I know for sure are black beauty eggplants and burley tobacco because those are the only varieties we planted of eggplant and tobacco. We'll just have to wait a few months to see what grows on all the other plants.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Christmas and After

On Christmas morning we went to church.  Because of Covid the service was held outside.  And because of a forecast of rain only a dozen people were there.  But that worked out perfectly because I only had a dozen fruit cakes to giveaway.  The boys had gone to Confession a few days before so they were able to go to Communion.

After church we went home an I cooked the Christmas sausage while every one opened presents.  That evening we had a crown pork roast for dinner.

On the third day of Christmas I baked three French hens.  It's noting too fancy, just chickens covered in butter and herbs du Provence

Kathleen and I wend duck hunting at Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge.  (I know it sounds weird to hunt at a wildlife refuge but the refuge was created to protect only two species, neither of which is a duck.)  We were only out for an hour because I didn't feel well (I hurt my neck and, as a result, had horrible pain in my shoulder and arm.  Had to get and MRI and then drugs.  The drugs made me sick and I spent 5 days mostly in bed. Only yesterday afternoon did I start to feel better.) but we still managed to shoot one pintail.  We could have had two but I missed a shot.

Kathleen got us a green house to start seeds in.  Remember a few weeks ago when we started seeds indoors?  Well of those 32 little seed starting cells eleven germinated.  We transplanted those eleven in to cow pots and moved them into the little green house.  We also sewed a bunch of seeds in cow pots and put them in the little green house. 

Tomatoes:  Paul Robeson, Dr. Wyche's Yellow, Wood's Famous Brimmer, and Bush Goliath

Cucumber: Solly Beiler and Yamato Sanjaku

Squash: Hybrid Gold Rush

In the ground where we grew radishes in the fall we planted a row of purple kohlrabi, and along the fence where we have poppies and lots of bulbs, we transplanted milkweed (a gift from a friend), and sewed seeds for bee balm and butterfly weed.

The kale we planted a couple of months ago is doing amazing.  I just used a basket full of it, together with the last of the Christmas sausage, to make a very yummy soup.