Thursday, August 26, 2010

St. Phanourios...

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Phanourios.  Right now, I am making my "phanouropita"- the cake that you make for St. Phanourious when you find something you lost.  A few months ago, it was my weekend to make prosphoro for church.  I get ready to make it and I cannot find my prosphoro seal that my DH bought from Mt. Athos.  Those at our church know that this is a really nice seal.  It's big.  It's carved very deep into the wood.  It is a great seal.  I search the whole kitchen and even in other areas of the house (I keep my seal in a specific place so it was odd that it was missing).  I let a friend borrow it, but I remember getting it back from her.  Did I let someone else borrow it and I just don't remember?  Fortunately for that Sunday, I had my yiayia's seal.  And it was nice to use her seal, although it is made of plastic.  And it is not as nice as my seal.  I ask around at church, no, it does not seem that I let someone borrow it.  I pray to St. Phanourios- help me to find my seal!  And, a few weeks later, I am taking something down from a shelf in the kitchen (the shelf where I also keep my seal) and there it is- seriously, it was not there and then there it was- so in keeping with tradition, I am baking a phanouropita.  This is actually going to be a gluten free apple spice cake.  I have baked the "traditional" cake but our priest says that any cake will do.  I have a mom's group potluck dinner tonight and I think I might bring it there to share with the women of our parish.  But, I will, of course, leave a few slices home for DH.  Thank you, St. Phanourios, the finder of lost things!  Through his intercessions, may the Lord have mercy on us and save us!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day Three through the end of the journey....

Uhm, yeah.  So I stopped writing about our summer trip after day 2.  We were just a bit busy.  Now that my sister is back in Moscow, we are not so busy:)  So, for those of you who have been holding your breath to read about our trip to Crater Lake/Northern California, here is the condensed, one post verion.  This might be a long one (or it might not) so maybe you should go pour yourself a cup of coffe (or some green tea), pull up a chair, and read....

Day three we showered (yeah!) at Crater Lake (really, at the shower facilities in the campground- I think it was 75 cents for 5 minutes- I have to say it is nice that I get to take my shower all by myself and get ready, etc. while DH has both boys with him in the shower- the small things).  And started the next part of our journey.  With Mt. Shasta soon in our view (is that one beautiful mountain or what) we drove to Manton, CA to the Monastery of St. John of San Francisco.  Our original plan was to go to Mt. Lassen to camp for one night and stop by the monastery for a few hours on our way to San Francisco.  But, a few weeks prior to leaving, we receive an automated phone call cancelling our camp reservation due to snow- Mt. Lassen did not open up until July 8 (I believe that was the date).  So we missed it by a day or two, BUT we were happy to be able to visit the monastery (esp. because we have a friend who is working towards entering that monastery and we got to check it out- it was esp. good for Big P because he is close to this friend and we talked a lot about where Mr. J would be living and becoming a monk, in general).  The boys loved it.  They have this wonderful dog (and, while we were there, they had a new puppy).  The chanting was amazing.  Big P made it throught the services, little p struggles with going to church.  The monastery is beautiful.  We had wonderful dinner (it was the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist- they are Old Calendar).  It would have been nice to stay for a few days but. alas, the next day we departed for San Francisco.

On purpose, we made each "leg" of our journey about 4 hours long so that we were not in the car for too long.  And, we would not have to stop to eat (plenty of potty stops- esp. for little p) just have snacks in the car.  One of our goals on this trip was to not have to eat out (with our gluten free diet it can sometimes be difficult to even find places to eat - and for DH, a burger without the bun just isn't enough for him).  I planned all our meals plus extra. 

Anyway, no trouble getting to San Francisco.  Beautiful city.  I have been before (so has DH).  We really needed more time there.  DH found a state park about 20 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge.  We pull into the park and find out that we have to carry all of our camping equipment anywhere from 500 yards to 1200 yards (we leave the car in the parking lot).  I was not thrilled with this plan (esp. when we at first couldn't find our site and DH is walking up this big hill and I am thinking about how many trips it will take to get even our basic car camping equipment up there, etc.  As it turned out, we had passed our site so we walked back and found it and it actually (I have to swallow my pride and admit to this) ended up being one of the nicest campgrounds we have ever stayed at (China Beach State Park). 

Our two goals for San Francisco were to go to the Holy Virgin Cathedral - Joy of all who Sorrow to venerate the relics of St. John of San Francisco and to go to Alcatraz.  The "plan" was to go to Alcatraz around 12:30 (that was our departure time) and then spend a few hours there.  Afterwards we would go to the Cathedral for Vesper's.  Not knowing San Francisco traffic in the morning, we left at 9am.  We arrived at the wharf at 9:30.  Hm.  We have three hours before the boat departs.  Let's head over to the cathedral.  We arrived at the cathedral shortly after liturgy was over and about 1/2 hour before the bookstore would open.  We went inside.  Aside from a babushka sitting in the corner, we were the only people in the cathedral.  The boys were able to ask questions about the different icons and to venerate the icons without my worrying about their noise level (they were quiet and respectful).  It was so peaceful inside the church.  We stayed for quite awhile.  Went to the bookstore, eventually.  Met a man from the tri-cities who goes often to the monastery in Goldendale, bought a gift for our godson (who had recently celebrated his nameday and is named for St. John of SF), and left for Alcatraz.  I felt that I was given the opportunity to lay my prayers at the feet of this wonderful saint and when I left, a huge burden had been lifted.  I was at peace.
Alcatraz was fun.  Big P loved it.  I have lots of great pictures on Facebook if you want to look at them.  After Alcatraz we were so exhausted (you know, you just don't sleep well camping) that we walked around for a bit and headed back to camp.  And we were happy that we went to the cathedral before Alcatraz rather than waiting for vesper's where there would be more people and I would probably be stressed by the boys behavior, etc.  All worked out well.

The next day, we woke up early, had breakfast and broke camp.  DH wanted to drive up Hwy 101 to get to St. Herman's monastery (about a 4 1/2 hour trip- a little longer than the more direct route).  So we did this.  We punched it into the GPS and headed north.  Ok, so word of advice.  Never trust your GPS.  It had us going on this crazy route (when we left 101).  I actually saw the GPS add time to our trip as it re-adjusted and re-calculated.  Our 4 hour trip ended up taking closer to 7 hours.  I drove on a dirt road at one point.  I repeat- A DIRT ROAD.  DH asked if I wanted him to drive.  I, clenching the wheel, said, through my gritted teeth, "no. I am venting my frustration on this dirt road."  It was crazy.  I would highly recommend not doing this ever.

But we made it, eventually.  I have heard of Platina for years (having read a number of Fr. Seraphim's books, etc.).  I did not realize that it is population 65.  Hm.  Big P asked when will be there and I said we have to go through a town first.  It was more like a gas station. 

The monastery is beautiful.  Rugged.  The trapeza and courtyard reminded me of Greece (could have been the heat reminding me of Greece, too).  We were there for the feast day of Sts. Sergius and Herman which they have a small chapel dedicated to these saints.  So there was a vigil in the evening (little p and mama had to go back to the cabin because little p just couldn't make it through the service) and then liturgy in the chapel.  It was so beautiful.  Very intimate.  Beautiful chanting.  There isn't electricity or running water as we know it at the monastery.  And it is so remote that when the sun sets, it is very dark.  I saw lots of deer. 
After liturgy and the meal, we were given a tour of the monastery.  The monk gave the boys peacock feathers because at one point there were peacocks at the monastery.  It was a wonderful tour.  They have this amazing cemetary (during the service, I took little p to the cemetery where he kissed the crosses multiple times- it's a lot of crosses).  We went to Fr. Seraphim's cell and to where he is buried.  And then we packed up and left.

Our original plan was to drive into Oregon, find a place to stay, and then head home on Monday (and DH would go back to work on Tues.).  But since we had that lovely adventure of driving for so long to get to St. Herman's the day before, we decided to push it and head home.  Without stops, it was a 7 1/2 hour trip.  We of course, have to stop.  And we knew that we would have to stop to eat.  But if we went straight home than DH would have all of Monday to help me put away the camping stuff, start laundry, take the boys to their first day of swimming lessons, relax a little.  So we pushed it and we came striaght home.  And the boys were wonderful in the car.  Oh, and the GPS redeemed itself- just south of Salem we hit horrible traffic.  No one was moving.  So the GPS gave us an alternative route and we followed it and we bypassed all of the traffic.

It was a great trip- tiring, but very enjoyable.
DH thinks that we might be able to drive to Wisconsin next summer to visit his family.