Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Grotto

The Grotto is the location of a Servite monastery and chapel.  The Grotto itself is a shrine carved out of the rock cliff.  Outdoor mass is held there weekly throughout the summer.  An elevator takes you to the top, where there is a lovely garden dotted with religious sculpture.  Pictured above is the Peace Pole.  The inscription is repeated in three other languages on the other sides of the pole, and it guards the entrance to the Peace Garden.  I wandered the gardens while the Sunday crowd attended mass at the chapel at the foot of the cliff.  I stopped in the meditation chapel to read familiar words from the Tao Te Ching: words I've been repeating like a mantra lately, "things arise and she lets them come, things disappear and she lets them go."  The monastery is here, secluded, at the top of the cliff; and I can imagine the peace and solitude the garden must offer at sunrise and dusk, when it is closed to the public.   I thought about staying to attend mass, but the spirit of the garden had already filled my soul, and I didn't want to chance spoiling it.




p.s. Click here to view all of today's photos on Flicker.

Monday, August 25, 2008


After four straight nights at work, something I am unaccustomed to, I couldn't sleep last night. I was still up in the morning, so I drove over the Washington border to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. It's a lovely wetland with an auto tour route. When I got there the mist was still settled over the swamps and meadows and the sky was tinged with the pink sunrise. Birds were atwitter everywhere.
Tonight, a warm summer rain is falling on us.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Food Meme

Rules: bold are things I've eaten, italics I have attempted and nearly retched on, and strikethroughs are things I would never put in my mouth. Here we go!

You'll notice there are no strikethroughs. I haven't met anything I wouldn't try. No italics either.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari- an old favorite
12. Pho- a new favorite
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries -like Brer Rabbit: "Bawn and bred in a briar patch"
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters-the sweetest oysters ever came from our late home: Winchester Bay
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut- Wonderful memories of making it as a child.
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel- eel rolls- another favorite
49. Krispy Kreme
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV.
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe- at 70% alcohol, too boozy for me, but I'd try a sip
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu- unlikely to drink this
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox -yet another favorite
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta Especially fried. With syrup.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Everything's Great When You're... Downtown

Since getting back from my trip, I've signed up for several nights at work, but haven't been needed. SPM was here a few nights ago en route somewhere else, so we had a delightful visit with him. Yesterday we watched the opening ceremony in Beijing, which I was simply fascinated by.

We took advantage of a weekend off work and went to the Portland Saturday Market today. It was crowded with people and food and booths of great arts and crafts. Then we sauntered over to the Art Museum for the Klaus Moje glasswork display they have up. Of course we never go to the art museum without stopping to see Monet's Water Lilies. It was a perfect day without too much sun, and yet still without rain.

Now I'm going to watch the Olympics with jc and eat salty snacks. If I'm going to be lazy, I might as well enjoy it.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Da Vinci and Mary Magdalene

It seems somewhat ironic that I received the Bock book in the mail from Laura just days after watching a History channel special on the same subject, but I should begin at the beginning.

I haven't shared with a lot of people, primarily because they didn't ask, that reading Dan Brown's book instigated my first crisis of faith. I feel kind of exposed writing about it here, yet I have no compunction about sharing my story with anyone who is interested, so I will attempt to shed my self-consciousness and write openly. Many fundamentalists, as is their habit, warned churchgoers against reading The DaVinci Code when it was first published to widespread acclaim. I didn't initially have much interest, but jc brought it home from the library, so I read it.

Admittedly, I've always been a sucker for historical fiction, trying to separate the true from the invented. In this case, I was already primed for doubt. I wouldn't want anyone to misconstrue my story to mean that a fictional story caused the disintegration of my faith: quite the contrary. The very fact that I could entertain Dan Brown's fabulous hypothesis indicates that I must have already been engulfed in doubts that I had, until then, failed to recognize.

Coming face to face with my doubt sent me into a tailspin of emotional distress. My faith had been constructed on a framework whose basic tenet was the divinity of Jesus Christ. I can look back and acknowledge that a wife and child need not have negated Jesus' godhood, but at the time the two seemed necessarily mutually exclusive. Nor does frank examination of the evidence available seem to provide proof of either to me. Both the History channel special and the Bock book expose reasons why Dan Brown's claims are full of holes. I am even led to wonder whether Brown bears some malice toward the Catholic church, which prompted some of his fantastic notions.

You may want to ask: if The DaVinci Code doesn't get the credit for my change in beliefs, what does? I was raised in the protective bubble of Biblical fundamentalism. I attended Christian school and Christian college, worked at Christian summer camps, and even taught at a Christian school. I had little exposure to secular science or philosophy until my late twenties. I was taught literal, six-day creationism, and school science texts routinely debunked radiocarbon dating, and cited misconstrued fossil findings as evidence against evolution. Fundamentalists hold that obscure Bible passages and accounts such as creation are all equally true. The truth of the whole is integrally linked to the truth of individual parts. When I began to learn what science has discovered about the origins of the earth, and the history of mankind, I had to reject a 6,000 year old earth and the Adam-and-Eve story of man's origins.

It took several years for my concerns to accumulate to the point, that I rejected the Bible as truth outright. It has been about a year now since I felt that it was important to share my change in beliefs with my family. As I continue to read and learn, I do not regret the path I have chosen. I have more questions than ever, and yet I have no burning need to have the answers. I relish speculating on the questions. I describe myself as agnostic or freethinker, and I have no doubt that many would dismiss my views as secular humanist, a term that my upbringing uses to sneer at those who believe, as I now do, that how I treat people that I can see is more important than what I believe about a god who may or may not exist.

I've come a long way since reading The DaVinci Code, but I don't regret a single step.