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The photo on the left is from Friday this past week. The photo on the right is from 7 years ago, yesterday. It was this past week, seven years ago, that I got busy drywalling (then picking up painting along the way) on my own and have hardly slowed down since. I grew up hating drywall and I despised my Dad for making me go with him in the summers instead of letting me swim and play whiffle ball. I foolishly chose a major with no real future and when that house of cards finally collapsed, I was left with what I knew and always was capable of: construction work. By the winter of 2009, I had been [back] in Philadelphia for about 8 months. I couldn’t get any consistent photography work & was just getting by. A guy from church had just bought a house two blocks from my little 10th street apartment and asked me if I could drywall his master bedroom. I was so eager to work that I couldn’t say no and the job was incredibly gratifying. I still took photography assignments from time to time but the more busy I got with drywall & painting, the more I resented any phone calls about photography because the assignments broke up my schedule and made completing jobs on time difficult.

So, for 7 years that has been my work. It paid for my incredibly expensive PNE surgery. It paid for our wedding & honeymoon! And it pays well enough that my wife is lucky enough to stay home with our precious little Callie. There are days when I piss & moan about the difficulty of a specific job, but I would do well to be grateful instead. The economic situation is not well in many parts of the country and if it wasn’t so healthy here, I don’t know where i’d be.

Give thanks to God in all things; the great an the terrible. Our salvation depends on it.


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Gleaner’s hasn’t changed one bit. The same pleasant barista works there as in 2009 and she is still just as pleasant. There is still no wifi. And everyone still knows everyone. In an enormous city full of constant change, the mundane consistency here is a magnificent reprieve. I think this is my favorite coffee shop ever.



I did some painting yesterday in an apartment I drywalled with my dad in the summer of 2010. The stocking of the drywall was an impressive feat. Because of union regulations, the delivery guys were not allowed to go up any stairs. So, he craned that drywall up three stories and thru the window with just a little remote control. I took those photos on my iPhone 3! I got a bunch of paint at C&R Building Supply for way less than you’d get it anywhere else. $54 for Aura Bath & Spa? Insane.

Philadelphia has changed so much since I moved away in 2012. I barely recognize the place. My old neighborhood on the edge of the Italian Market is crammed with cars (I almost never parked anywhere but on my block back then) and new things keep being built. If you can’t go sideways, go up.

I am only writing these things today because I am home sick. This is the second sickness I have had in the last 6 weeks. I hate missing the Divine Liturgy. Because of being sick and taking Callie to the hospital on a Sunday, I have missed 3 this year. That is more than I’ve probably missed in the last 2 years total. It is painful to be away from those glories that show themselves on earth.

Lent begins in two weeks. It is always so difficult transitioning from non-fasting to fasting. But it is worth the great struggle without which we cannot be purified and in the end, saved. Glory to God for his Church.


Orthodoxy in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and anywhere else.

Years ago, when I had just graduated from Drexel and was still dating Carina, liberti met in a Romanian Orthodox Church in Northern Liberties. I can’t say how many times I went there. 10? 20? More? I remember going a bunch in the summer of 2005 or 2004? There were icons on the wall, peeling. This was what I wanted, what I longed for, but it wouldn’t be for over a decade till I could even comprehend that.

That church has undergone a renovation. From the photos on the website, it is beautiful! Around the corner from Holy Trinity is also St Michael’s and two places I actually spent a lot of time at in philadelphia — Honey’s and North 3rd. How many times did I go to either of these places, not knowing what awaited me in the cathedrals nearby? not knowing that this was every thing I longed for? The same could be said for Pittsburgh. I arrogantly thought I was to be a missionary to the South Side; the True Light would come to Pittsburgh’s darkest neighborhood on my own lips. Yet it was already there. And it preceded me several hundred years at least. I didn’t even know it and I didn’t even know that I had something of the light, albeit a very very darkened and dim version of it; so dark and so dim that I don’t know it could even be called Christianity.