Saturday, July 31, 2004

watching the sun move

Normally, we cannot perceive the movement of the sun. At one point it is at this place in the sky, later, it has moved, but if you were to just stand and look at it, you would not notice. This week I painted a barn and some other out-buildings on a local farm. I started at seven in the morning to get as much cool morning time in as possible. At one point, I was painting a south-facing wall as the sun was inching up in the clear sky. As I painted, the arc of the sun's course brought the first gauzy beam of light cross the wall. I watched it happen. It was a quiet, magical moment. If I had been looking for it, it would have happened in a moment of mental distraction and I would have missed it. I saw it because I was so intensely focused on seeing the surface of that wall as I gauged my progress with the paint.

When I was a child, I saw many Royals games at Kaufman stadium. The outfield wall is lined with small billboards that magically change throughout the course of the game. I would often stare at these billboards, waiting to see them change. I never did. I would look at one moment and it would be Pennzoil. Later, the same sign would be John Deer and would realize that I missed the transition. It drove me crazy.

When distant friends and relatives see a child they always comment on how much that child has grown, but parents don't comment from moment to moment or even day to day about that growth. It is happening imperceptibly so that the regular viewer doesn't notice. Like the movement of the sun and those outfield billboards, parents just occasionally notice that their child is different from before. Sometimes this drives me nuts. I want to just sit at stare at David and just watch him change. I will have moments away from him when I think "he is changing right now and I am missing it."

I wonder if a week away from him is enough to perceive any growth from the last time I saw him at the airport a week ago.

I have certainly noticed growth in me. I didn't used to miss people that I was away from. I prided myself on this but it drove Significant Others crazy. I would be gone a week and someone would ask if I missed them and I would look at myself and realize that I hadn't even given them a thought, actually. I learned to lie about that early. Yes, of course I missed you. I saved this bag of airline peanuts for you.

Not now.

Now, I miss my wife and my son so much that I can physically feel their absence in my chest. Tomorrow, I will see them again.

I wonder how much they have grown. Posted by Hello

Friday, July 30, 2004

Irish Eyes

Maire!  Thank you for visiting.  Jaime needs your new email!!!!  Please send to the email address in the sidebar beneath "rebuttals."

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

David is not around to photograph, so I'm picking on Tuff instead. Click on the image for a larger image. Posted by Hello
 Posted by Hello
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Saturday, July 24, 2004


I hope that you like the new look.  Blogger has offered a variety of nice new templates that look pretty slick and have that Movable Type, css, Dooce-cool look.  This one is a little heavy on the formatting, which is causing some glitches, but I will keep working on it.  You will also notice that I have removed the thumbnail images from the side bar (now on the left).  The Buzznet link is still there and the photos that were at Buzznet are still there, but now that I can post photos directly into the blog, I got rid of the thumbnails because they slow the page down more.  Hope you like it.  Hopefully, more changes will be forthcoming.

Subjected to another of daddy's artsy close-ups. Posted by Hello

Friday, July 23, 2004

Walmart picture three. Posted by Hello

Grandpa and Granny Great (Gilbert) wanted the four-month mark well documented and took us to the Walmart portrait studio. Posted by Hello

Walmart shot three. Posted by Hello

WalMart shot five Posted by Hello

four months

David is four months old yesterday.  He weighs 15 pounds, 14.5 ounces--a big fish.

He is living up to his "turtle" nick-name--only in reverse.  He rolls over now from his back to his front as a matter of course.  However, rolling from front to back is more difficult (apparently) and he does not like to be on his tummy.  So it's roll, pause, whine, daddy turns him over, pause, roll, pause, whine, etc. 

In a bored, almost sleepy moment on Monday, started going "ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh--" a long, dull monosyllable.  I put my finger to his mouth and wiggled it up and down producing a "badabadabadabadabada."  He rather liked that.  Now, I can put my finger to his mouth and half the time he will start with the "ahhhhhh."  The other half of the time, he just bites it.  I understand that one can catch a catfish by sticking one's hand into the holes that they make in the bank.  The fish will jump forward to bite the hand.  once the hand is in the fish's mouth grab quickly and pull.  David could be caught this way.  Just put . . . well . . .anything in front of his mouth and wait for him to clamp on.

Being four months old means getting to go on longer outings.  This week we went to Junction City to watch uncle Cory play baseball (see "around the horn").  Cory played great, the team played good, but their opponents served themselves up like the catfish that just jumps in the boat.  They ended in the seventh because of an 11-point spread.

Being four-months old means getting to go on even longer outings than that, though.  I took mother and child to the airport today and they flew to Colorado to be with Grandma Susie and Grandpa Stevie.  I will join them in a week.  I haven't decided if I will spend my first whole week sans wife and child writing my novel or curled up in a ball by the phone waiting for them to call.  I have heard that David was a dream on the plane, but will leave the details for his mother to post.  Perhaps she can find more ways of working fish references into her post.

Pictures on the way.

Later, fish fans.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

He's not all me.

Wife and Mom here.  The other night Jason and I were discussing our wonder boy and Jason made the comment that David is all me.  Granted the guy looks almost exactly like I did as a baby and we both have the same winning personality and a smile that kills, BUT as my family can attest David did inherit some of his father's traits. 
One day I'm bonding with David on the changing table sucking boogies out of his nose.  Most of the time he doesn't put up too much of a fight so I usually do this solo.  So, I flick my mop of hair to the side to get a better look and all of a sudden my head is being yanked backwards and down as if a ticked off female wrestler had grabbed me.  While I stand there stunned, staring at the ceiling my brain starts to process just what in the world has such a hold on my hair.  Then I catch the grin on my son's face.  His freaky feet were wrapped in my hair pulling it toward the pad.  It took both hands and threats of no car when you grow up to get my hair free from those skillful feet.  I think David's toes are already longer than mine.  Note to self, keep the hair up at all times.

I can't seem to post more than one photo at a time. Posted by Hello

I am posting this photos with some new software and am still working about bugs. Posted by Hello

Jaime documented David's first attempt to sit on his own. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

something for the STFs

Quite a bit of my traffic is refered from Glen "Subdeacon Tikhon" Matthew Thurman's blog. If his links list is any indication, visitors from his site may be looking for more Orthodox logorrhea. I don't have much of that but I do have something for you. While cleaning out my email I came across this post that I sent to the good Subdeacon way back before I had a reason to exist on the internet. Enjoy:

. . . I'm, like, the only white male on the planet without a Web Site so I should learn how to set one up and operate it. Unfortunately, I don't have a life worth dedicating a Site to.

So I am going to dedicate it to you.

It will be the "Unofficial Subdeacon Tikhon Thurman Fan Site." It will have a Thurman gallery with pictures, a Subdeacon Tikhon Thurman computer screen background image, and a Subdeacon Tikhon Thurman screen saver. The "Thurman Review" will be a place for collected writings, poems, articles, etc. about you. The STF chat room will be a place that other Subdeacon Tikhon Fans (STFs) can post thoughts, live sightings, etc. I will also have a blog review section in which I highlight your best posting of the week and review it.

Thank you for giving my life meaning.


Needless to say, I desided that it would be easier to have a child than actually make this idea a reality.

later STFs, and all the rest.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Goodbye Fr. Michael.

Reflecting on the current-events entries that I post to this blog, I realize that I have neglected to say anything about our priest's departure. Fr. Michael began serving at the parish here in Topeka on the day that Jaime and I were married in KC--the Sunday after the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, 2001--the same year that the Museum opened. His last day at this parish was the same Sunday, three years later; the same year that museum closed.. He is moving to Washington so that his wife, Makrina, can be closer to her family. Because of my position as Parish Council Secretary, I was asked to make the official "goodbye" speech at the going-away lunch. I will share my comments here to the best of my recollection.

As I said, I was asked to talk because I am on Parish Council. In that role, I got to serve with Fr. Michael in his capacity as the leader of this community. There are a variety of leadership "styles." Fr. Michael's style is very much that of the "friend." He as been our parish family's father as well as the cool uncle. As he and Makrina leave us, the loss is very much that of loosing friends and we will miss them the way that we miss close friends. But I also think that he maintained the delicate friend/leader balance well. While striving to be our friend, he did not fail to articulate a vision for this parish and guide it towards that goal. As he leaves us, we are a parish that has a vision and a plan for our future. I think that his tenure here will be regarded as a "transitional period" for our parish and he as done a good job taking us through the transition from mission to parish and has helped us develop a strong lay-leadership base that we can carry forward with our next priest.

And I am confident that as he and Makrina leave, they will will also feel that they are leaving good friends. But more than that, they will be leaving the best parish that they will ever have the privilege to serve. Ss. Peter and Paul is a "family" like no other parish can be and I am confident that in his future positions, he is never going to pastor another family that is as tight-knit and loving as this one. So we are saying goodbye to a dear friend, a leader, our Father, and our cool uncle. We also have to say "congratulations" to Makrina--Dr. Jody, MD--for successfully completing her residency and getting a position in a family practice in Spokane. We will also dearly miss her.. Thank you both for being a part of our lives, good luck with your future, and please pray for us. We wish you both many many years. Axios!

Friday, July 09, 2004


David laughs. He laughs a high squeaky baby squeal of mouth-wide-open
delight. He laughs the hardest at that thing. That thing that he
frequently sees downstairs flapping back and forth. It is dark and long and
thin and swings rapidly back and forth and back and forth in the air about
three feet above the floor and is just so delightful that David squeals like
the Pillsbury dough-boy on smack. This thing is usually accompanied by that
other thing that likes to get up in his face and smells bad and often licks
him. That big black and gray thing does not make him laugh; it just puzzles
him. It's as if he would like it to go away to that he can watch that other
wagging thing and laugh.

Venus fly trap. Put something in his hand and instantly the hand goes to
the mouth. Blanket in the hand--to the mouth! Rattle--to the mouth! Steak
knife--just kidding. I was trying to imagine the biological advantage of
this reflex at an age where he does not need to be able to feed himself
under normal circumstances. I imagine his primordial ancestral parents
being dragged away and eaten by saber-tooth tigers, leaving baby on the
floor of the cave or the hut or where ever. His only survival mechanisms
are charm and this hand-to-mouth reflex. What would he eat? It would have
to be small enough to get into his mouth and dumb enough to crawl into his
hand. I can only think of one thing--bugs. This discovery is a helpful
revelation while unemployed because a box of crickets is way cheaper than
baby food and the basement is fully stocked with all kinds of things. Heck,
when he gets hungry, we could just lay him on the basement floor, turn off
the lights, and let him fill his little face with high concentrations of
crunchy protein. I bet he would squeal with delight.

achy brakey bike

To add insult to injury, last week, while I was volunteering at the museum, somebody stole my bicycle. I am sure that loosing your job and your bicycle in the same week is the urban, middle-class, yuppie equivalent of someone using your truck to take your wife and run over your dog.

blast from the past. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Daddy is on the dole

I am looking for a job. Last week, the board of the Heartland Orthodox Christian Council voted to close the Museum. Our Exec. Director, Justin called me on the 15th to tell me, but it was not "official" until voted on, so I couldn't tell too many other people, namely, you. Although, I don't relish the idea of being penniless, it was not a terrible shock that we are closing. We have been struggling financially for over a year and the big-money people were just not behind us. It is, however, a disappointment. I am looking in several different places for a new job, I will let you know when I have something.

I think that it would have been cool to be able to title this post "I was fired for reading 'Dooce'."

Although I couldn't post about the closing for a couple of weeks, I did do a bit of writing that I will include here. It may get a bit lengthy and I think that David is only mentioned once. So if you are here for the Happy Happy David Show, browse the archives for awhile and then come back.


June 19, 2004

Having visitors at the Museum has become depressing. Almost every visitor today made a comment about the future of the museum.

"I'll have to buy that next time."

"I will join the Friends the next time I come."

"We'll have to visit again during the next exhibition."

"You have a Web site, don't you?"

Each time a visitor leaves, I traditionally tell them that I look forward to seeing them again. I have always assumed that this is a mix of courteous formality and sincere interest. Today I realize how much of it is sincere. Today, as people left, I would tell them to have a nice day and quietly think to myself, "goodbye, I would honestly like to see you again, but I know that I will not."


Theo sent a letter today. He is a retired Greek immigrant whom we call one of our "cheerleaders," someone who is excited about our mission and helps us to fulfill it. He was our contact with Mount Athos and basically made the Monasticism exhibition possible by communicating between the Holy Mountain and the Museum. He is always sending us gifts and writing encouraging letters in which he praises our ministry. He once referred to us as "a jewel in the desert." He lives in Florida, and has never been here. We communicate by letter and fax. Today's letter is written in long-hand. He calls down God's protection upon us, tells us how he and his wife and family are doing, and asks about some business regarding the Holy Mountain. He also admires our work, which he read about in our recent newsletter and encloses some copied Greek Newspaper articles about monastics. We love Theo. We are so fond of him that, to me, it seems absurd to think that our relationship is actually based on this museum and therefore could simply end. As terrible as I am about corresponding, I think that I would like to stay in touch with Theo after we close. I know he would welcome that.

June 22, 2004
The Museum has lots of personal friends--people who visit often, like to be here, like to talk with us. Mark and Mary are two of them. Mark is our oldest friend--our first friend. He was in on the renovation of the row house before we were. He helped us get into this and was central to our renovation. He does it for God. His personal goal is to help us bring people closer to God. When he stopped by the other day, I told him what is going on because he deserves to know and he would lend support. He did. He is positive that we have brought people closer to God and positive that now that God is done with this project, He will give us a new assignment.

Yesterday Mary came in. She is our newest friend. She works across the street at the Big Bureaucratic Box and will occationally stop over for a cup of coffee and some relief. This time she told me that she is struggling. She knows that she has to make a certain decision, but that pride is holding her back. I sympathized and we talked a bit about this central Christian struggle--not to know right from wrong, but to subdue our egos' desire to do the wrong thing. It might have made a little bit of difference, I don't know. Then Jaime came in with David. Mary got to hold our smiling, giggling baby--the best therapy. By the time that she left, I think that she was feeling much better. This is what I will miss the most about the museum. Forget the exhibitions and the covert evangelism. I am going to miss talking with people sincerely, intimately, significantly. When you put the word "Christian" above the door an then open that door to the public, you are inviting people in to share their innermost selves with you. I have talked with lapsed Christians about going back to Church, I have had theological conversations that aren't just the thick-book quoting, but people really trying to work out the course of their lives. I try not to give anybody advice. I am not a therapist. It is simply trust. People assume that this is a place of trust. Without being dramatic, I do feel some guilt that we are breaking people's trust by closing our doors.

July 2, 2004

Victoria had to call various professional affiliations to give them the bad news. When she called Downtown Topeka, Inc. Patricia literally cried. She also talked to Stephany at the Topeka Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Within an hour, Stephany's boss, Richard, the head of the Bureau, was down at the museum with his condolences. People in Topeka are genuinely upset. The Museum has been very well received here and most feel that we have done a good job. It feels pretty nice.

Sunday July 4, 2004

The headline of the Local section of the paper is about the Museum Closing. It is a simple, well-done story. The fact that it is so prominently placed indicates the regard that the city has for our little museum. I made the announcement at Church. Many people are upset and saddened. It may seem odd that so many people are upset and that so many people think that the museum is important, yet we could not stay afloat. Well "a lot of people" is simply not enough people. 80% of a non-profit's support comes from 20% of the supporters. The foundation of a charity is a small group of wealthy donors giving five or six digits annually. For us, that would simply have meant eight-to-twelve people giving ten or fifteen thousand. Or twenty giving six-thousand, whatever. The problem is, that core group of people would need to be Orthodox Christians in or near Kansas. Our pool of the very wealthy is not huge and we were simply never able to convince that particular group that the Orthodox in Kansas need a Museum--a tiny Museum with two full-time staff. This lack of support stems in part from problems built in to the structure of the organization from the beginning--problems that we could just never overcome. So, even though we are a headline in Topeka, Kansas (several times), that simply doesn't translate into an operating budget adequate to maintain the quality that we were known for.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004
The last day that we were open. Victoria described it as being like attending your own funeral. 106 people came. A couple brought flowers, someone came up from Wichita with brownies, someone else brought Champaign. Many many friends came--people who have been supporters of the museum since we opened. Most of them are non-Orthodox but who are interested in culture and spirituality in some way. We also had a number of first-time visitors who have been meaning to get down but kept putting it off. The whole day was like a party. It was touching.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


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