Archive for the ‘San Antonio’ Category

Lost Kids

January 28, 2010

Would you be a little worried if your 18 year old identified herself as a werewolf, ate raw meat, collected skulls and wore a tail out in public?   Would you be freaking out if the kid was also into bondage, wore a dog collar, and hung around with others of her kind in a ‘wolf pack’?  Did I mention the Tourette’s Syndrome, dropping out of school in 9th grade, and the supposed brain damage from a prior auto accident? 

Wolfie Blackheart, not your average San Antonio teenager, is making news this week  with the revelation that she decapitated a dog (road kill or live family pet is the  legal question right now), then cleaned and prepared its skull for display.  No one, especially the owner of the dog, might have known about this if the photos hadn’t been posted on Wolfie’s My Space page.   Dog lovers and animal rights groups are howling mad and want Wolfie’s head on a shelf, and they’re pressuring the San Antonio Police Department to file charges of animal cruelty.

I’m not at all disturbed by Wolfie’s interest in taxidermy in itself, but when it’s just one aspect of her rather bizarre life, it isn’t such an innocent little hobby anymore.  What sets off alarms for me is her involvement in  sexual fetishism, bondage, and extreme self-delusion, compounded with an incomplete formal education.  That seems experimental and edgy when you’re 18 but what are you going to do with your life at 30?

Anyone care to argue that our children aren’t under attack by demonic forces?  Wolfie isn’t the only teenager adrift in our society.  I see plenty of runaways and street kids downtown every day; they were once someone’s baby, now they are alone.  I titled this post “Lost Kids” but I have to believe that anyone is not so far gone that they’re lost forever, not while there’s the hope of Christ.   To a loving God, Wolfie Blackheart and other kids like her are children created in His image and likeness, worthy of respect and love.

Christmas in San Antonio 2009

December 16, 2009

Well, it’s time for my annual San Antonio Christmas buñuelo report.   No one ever seems to show up at an office in this town with a holiday fruit basket.  Our office is always  the fortunate recipient of this ‘food of goodwill and good business’ tradition.  So far this year we’ve had tamales, pecans 3 ways (sugared, salted and chocolate), and trashcan sized tins of cookies, but the best is the buñuelos.  Light-as-air dough fried in copious amounts of lard until browned to the color of a Padre Island suntan, then sprinkled all over with a handful of granulated sugar and cinnamon, which adheres to the hot and greasy buñuelo like a cotton shirt to a sweaty body.   Really, they are that good.

Did you know buñuelos are most likely a Sephardic Jewish tradition?  There had to be a religious connection in there somewhere.  Did I mention I’m feeling really ill now?  Can you be hospitalized for a sugar overdose? 

Monday Smile and Parish History

September 28, 2009


I love this photo!  It was posted on Interfax News last week and simply titled “Meeting of the Honorary Guest”.   No story or information of any kind, just a photo of a dog that showed up at some fancy Russian church function.   I can’t imagine a cat getting the kind of smiles this earnest, jovial looking dog gets from the assembled clergy (and I’m a cat lover!).   

This reminds me of a story that I heard about my own parish.  I first showed up at the mission parish of St. Anthony’s in August 1990 (and just never left!).   St. Anthony’s had purchased the rundown, ramshackle historic church building in 1982; a building that our long-time priest affectionately said had all “the charm of a VFW hall”.  You had to really be called by the Holy Spirit to find Orthodoxy in that building.   Cracked, green linoleum floors, a dropped and drooping suspended tile ceiling (covering the 17 ft. high barrel ceiling hidden above), and floors that were not supported by the rotted pier and beam foundation.  This was after the initial, bare bones conversion of the historic Alfred Giles church from its years of neglect and decline.  The previous owners, a holy roller, pentecostal group, had even covered up the walls and windows with cheap, painted panelling. 

Anyway, the story goes that one  hot evening during Saturday Vespers, all the doors and windows of the church had been opened up to catch any slight, cooling breeze.  Mind you, this building was so old that it did not have any air-conditioning or heating aside from a couple of window units and space heaters that could not possibly do the job.   On this hot, South Texas evening, in walked a lanky, stray dog that casually sauntered into the nave, walked around to all the icon stands, then just as casually walked right back out the open door.    It seemed so natural that no one either had the presence of mind to shoo out the dog or stop him from venerating the icons.  He was respectful and well-behaved and just stopping by to pay a visit. 

This past weekend’s festivities reminded me of this story and so many more.   I spent the past three days attending St. Anthony’s 30th Anniversary Celebration.   It was 30 years ago, in the month of September 1979, that the first organized Liturgy was celebrated  by the core group that formed our parish.   I’ve been privileged to witness the last 19 of those 30 years, and there’s no end of the stories we spent reminiscing about this weekend – funny, sad, maddening, and inspiring.  It was 19 years ago last month that I showed up at Saint Anthony’s for my first ever Orthodox Liturgy in that less-than grandiose space, but I knew immediately that God and his Holy Church were there.  The Liturgy was the worship of heaven and no amount of VFW Hall character could hide that beauty.  I was home and in God’s own time I will die in “my home”.   There is no substitute for the peace of knowing where you belong in life.

God bless Saint Anthony Orthodox Church, its mission in San Antonio, Texas, its priests and the parishioners who have been my friends, my family and my examples of Christ-like behavior.

 Saint Anthony

And the skies opened…

September 10, 2009

For all my friends in South Texas and beyond, I thought we’d have a multiple choice quiz today.  Look at the photos below and answer the following questions.

Sorry, bad photo but this is out my office windows with a cell phone

Sorry for the bad photo, but this is out my office windows with a cell phone. That is not my dour, brooding, face you see reflected in the window; that's my hand.

Question #1:  What is the substance you see falling out of the sky and accumulating on the ground?   (a)  Manna    (b)   lollipops and candies   (c)  radioactive fallout   (d) unknown foreign substance   (e)  rain

“E” is the correct answer; give yourself 10 points.  However, if you said “d”,  I know you’re from Texas.   Award yourself 20 points – you were handicapped by the lack of experience and living memory of such an event.


Question #2:   What is the object above?    (a)  a sun shade  (b) a safety device to protect against nuclear fallout   (c)  an umbrella

If you answered “c”, you are correct.  10 points!    Texans who picked “a”, however, should also receive 10 points for their clever multi-task approach to the use of an umbrella.  I actually could only find one in our house  yesterday when this wet stuff started – grown-ups got the use of that one.  Kids, having hardly seen rain in the past 18 months, would greatly benefit from the experience of walking in the wet stuff.

Question #3:   View the photos below and choose “a” or “b”.  What is the normal color of a suburban lawn?

Photo "a"  This is the color green

Photo "a" This is the color green

Photo "b" -  this is the color of drought, it also makes a crunchy sound

Photo "b" - this is the color of drought, it also makes a crunchy sound

If you chose Photo “a”, add another 10 points to your total.  If you chose Photo “b”, well….you’re right too.  That is the normal color of a suburban yard in South Texas.   If you live ’round here and your yard looks like Photo “a”, all the neighbors know you bin violatin’ the waterin’ restric’shuns and we ain’t gonna waste our time calling the water cops.  We’re gonna find the biggest dead tree (also not too hard ’round here) and string ya up.

Only 28″ more to go and we’ll have caught up with our normal precipitation for the past 2 years. Yes, since January 2008, we are down 28″ of normal rainfall. So you can understand why this is such an event of biblical scale. I believe I’ll go walk down the Riverwalk for lunch and experience it myself. In the meantime keep praying for more of the same.

An old Texas prayer for rain
Dear Lord, please send us some rain.  Not so much for me, mind ya, cuz I’ve seen it.   But for my 7 year old son.   Amen.

Summer Doldrums

August 6, 2009


Why the light posting the last two weeks?  Well, I guess you’d call it the summer doldrums.  The South Texas, hot-as-hell, bone dry, dead and dying summer doldrums to be exact. 

I’m a firm believer that snow is very clearly mentioned as one of God’s biblical curses; that any Christmas I can’t celebrate in shorts and Birks is too cold; and Seasonal Affective Disorder is plain medical proof that not enough sun is gonna kill ya.  But come on now!   Enough is enough even for me.

If you’ve been ignoring the news lately, you wouldn’t know that since June 1st, San Antonio has busted 40 days of temps 100 degrees or higher with no real measureable rain.  (We’re actually about 28 inches short on rainfall since January 2008)   It’s so hot that when it cools down at night to 90 or 91 (by about 10 pm), I put on my sweat pants.  It’s so hot, my car’s outside thermometer reads 133 degrees in the grocery store parking lot.   And, it’s so hot, I was web-surfing today through the real estate listings in Alaska, fantasizing about relocating somewhere with green grass and other living things.  (Rod Dreher actually got me thinking about Alaska since he’s lecturing at the Eagle River Institute this week and posting really annoying things  about the beautiful weather.   Smarty pants – ya gotta get on that plane sometime Rod and Dallas is juuuust waiting for ya!)

If you’re planning on a little trip to SA this month, be prepared, ’cause August is traditionally our hottest month.   But it’s true that once you hit 102 or 103, temps higher than that just don’t feel too much worse.   Try and tell this to the tourists I see on the river boats cruising down the San Antonio Riverwalk everyday.  They have a grim look that says “why am I spending $250 per day on a hotel room in the ante-chamber of Hell?”   On the other hand, the street preachers are making a powerful impact expounding on the fire and brimstone of Revelations.   The wages of sin never seemed so manifestly real as they do in the Texas Summer of 2009.

Swine Flu Report #1

April 28, 2009


 This has been a test of the Blogosphere Emergency Alert System (BLERT).  If this had been an actual emergency you would have been instructed……  


 If you found this post with a Google search using the terms “swine flu”, “global pandemic”, “quarantine”, or “apocalypse + plague”, I do not have anything useful to report or suggestions for survival.   For some strange and inexplicable reason, I am not at this point totally freaked out, even though I live almost at ground zero from the initial Texas outbreak.   Steele High School is just 15 miles away, right over in the next community.   So, it’s practically in our own backyard.

What’s the difference in my panic level now than from what I felt over the bird flu infections?   Simple – all of the US infections have been non-fatal so far.   It’s horribly xenocentric, but it seems it takes the death of some otherwise healthy American to jolt us from our complacency – not just the poor victims right across the border.

It’s not too early to make some mental check lists of things to do – contingencies.   For me that’s wondering what to do when the first cases hit my kids’ school and the district shuts down as it did over the weekend in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City school district.

I am not old enough (well, I am older) to remember or maybe it wasn’t on my radar screen in 1968 or 1976 when the last swine flu scares came along.   What stands out in my memory is President Gerald Ford being mercilessly skewered on Saturday Night Live for what some people believed was the Great Swine Flu failure of 1976.  It seems the virus could not be predicted and several million people didn’t die as predicted.   I don’t think anyone’s going to get all riled up over emergency preparedness this time around.

What did the churches, particularly Orthodox Churches, do back in ’76 about liturgical services?  Were some cancelled or did they go on a usual?   What about our practice of communing from a common chalice?  I’m inclined to say, “God will take care of us since it is the Body and Blood of His Son”, we’re communing.  I bet that doesn’t assauage the paranoia though.  Church attendance and frequent communion are going to surely take a hit over the next few weeks or months.

What interesting and scary times we live in!   I know one thing, if we do have to go into lock down mode and the kids are sent home, I need to make sure chocolate and Blue Bell ice cream are on my list of essentials.  There’s no way I’m spending a week or two shut up in the house  with two wild boys without some basic comfort foods. 

The Fiesta Shoe Box Float

April 22, 2009


There…’s finished.   This may have been my last shoe box float ever, and from the looks of it, I don’t think I had any intention of going out on a high note.   Thank you to my sister who took her lunch hour yesterday to run over to Fiesta on Main  and get the Fiesta-y nick nacks  (It’s a great store – I get our Pascha piñatas there every year.  The website just doesn’t give you the idea of the amount of cool stuff they have – lots of artwork, Mexican crafts and the best Dia de los Muertos figures and skulls too.)

It’s my opinion, but I believe the greatest, most useful parenting tool isn’t communication or empathy, it’s the hot glue gun.

The Bad Side of Fiesta

April 21, 2009


It’s Fiesta week in San Antonio!  Who doesn’t love lots of parades, a gazillion special events, people breaking cascarones over each others’ heads, tons of  food, crazy local royalty whizzing around town with police escorts, the music, just everything.  It’s sometimes a problem though when Fiesta coincides with Orthodox Holy Week and Pascha.  This year’s Fiesta  started on Thursday, April 16th and will continue through Sunday, April 26th, so us local Orthodox Christians only missed out on a couple of days.   A fast free Bright Week is perfect for Fiesta.  In ten days, about 3.5 million people attend multiple events and generally the whole of San Antonio is affected to one degree or another.  Working downtown, I’m right in the thick of it and I’m so glad!


However, one Fiesta event I absolutely detest and procrastinate about and wish could be killed forever,  is the dreaded, headache-inducing, stress-filled FIESTA SHOE BOX FLOAT PARADE!  If you’re a parent you know about this concept.  Schools, preschools and daycare centers feel it must be a fun and educational experience for their children to participate in the local parade madness with their very own, customized, personally decorated, and themed shoe boxes to pull around the school in a mini-parade with strings, mount on little wheels, or pull around in mini wagons.  Who makes the floats?  Certainly not the kids. 

My kids I have been making shoe box floats for Fiesta for 8 years.  Every April I’m caught unaware because of the selective amnesia problem I’ve developed about this project.  Fiesta celebrations have been happening around San Antonio since the first Battle of Flowers Parade in 1891, so you’d think I’d be prepared.  When did I realize I had to make this year’s Fiesta float for my 7 year old?  6:30 am this morning as I cleaned out his backpack.  When is the float due?  Tomorrow morning.   When am I going to run screaming into the street, babbling like an idiot, covered in confetti and gluey tissue paper?  About 10:30 pm tonight.   Watch the news tomorrow morning.  It should be a pretty scary sight.