Thursday, June 30, 2005

Couldn't be this funny if you tried. Which they didn't.

I-485 (PDF), Part 3:
  • 1. Have you ever, in or outside the United States:
    • a. Knowingly committed any crime of moral turpitude or a drug-related offense for which you have not been arrested…
  • 3. Have you ever:
    • a. Within the past ten years been a prostitute or procured anyone for prostitution, or intend to engage in such activities in the future?…
  • 4. Have you ever engaged in, conspired to engage in, or do you intend to engage in, or have you ever solicited membership or funds for, or have you through any means ever assisted or provided any type of material support to any person or organization that has ever engaged or conspired to engage in sabotage, kidnapping, political assassination, hijacking or any other form of terrorist activity?
  • 5. Do you intend to engage in the United States in:
    • a. espionage?
    • b. any activity a purpose of which is opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the government of the United States, by force, violence or other unlawful means?...
  • 7. Did you, during the period from March 23, 1933 to May 8, 1945, in association with either the Nazi Government of Germany or any other organization or government associated or allied with the Nazi Government of Germany, ever order, incite, assist or otherwise participate in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin or political opinion?
  • 8. Have you ever engaged in genocide, or otherwise ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion?...
[and the final question:]
  • 14. Do you plan to practice polygamy in the United States?
As far as I can tell, these questions are designed to root out the very stupid terrorists, etc., with the exception of number 7, which is a trick question about reincarnation (in which Orthodox Christians do not believe). Do they expect someone to say, "why, yes, I engage in genocide, but only on the weekends" or "yes, I am part of a conspiracy which plans to assassinate politicians; how kind of you to ask"? Of course, you only get the boxes to check yes or no, but still.

[Hey, Lissa, thanks again for reminding me that you can do lists in html!]

Feel free to post your answers in the comments. (No, not you. They might heeeaaar you.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Like a vest, except not.

Watch out, government. My husband says, "We can wait another day to make sure that we have everything as bullet-proof as possible."

You hear that? Bullet-proof!

To come at a later post: amusing questions asked on the forms.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bad Government

Go, USA!!

And take your horrid forms with you.

1. Application To Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Look, he married me.)
2. Petition for Alien Relative (I like him.)
3. Application for Employment Authorization (You should let him work here [so I don't have to].)
4. Biographic Information (This is him, and him, and me.)

I made copies of EACH of the pages of my passport.

I got Andy to notarize my signature on whatever page Peterbird had flagged.

Tonight, Anthony came over and looked at the horrid applications / petitions / forms and found one missing SSN (mine) and pointed out that Peterbird might want to have a complete sentence ("I married a US citizen." rather than "Married US citizen.") in another place. Peterbird only has a fax (but faxed from Romania) of a (notarized) translation of his birth certificate, so he emailed his brother to see if he could get any closer to a copy of the real thing, and just use what we currently have as a translation.

I have started to talk to the people who have demanded that we fill out these forms in order to get what we want. They cannot hear me, but I don't seem to mind. They are, nevertheless, insufferable. I don't even remember the rest of the hoops we jumped through, but it was ugly.

In other news, we plan to have an open house tomorrow night for Peterbird's name day. (Do other people pause their blog-posting to put up a page so that they can link to it? Sheesh.)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Stinky bureaucracy

My husband and I have been doing nasty things. We finished this form in quadruplicate just now. We need some notarized signatures, copies of everything and everything again, and the check and then it will go away. Ugh.

He didn't realize how difficult it would be for me to fill in my residence for the last five years (six lines) and my employment for the last five years (five lines) (don't forget, everything times 4!). Luckily, it didn't ask me to attach additional sheets, so I made it back as far as March 2003 on the residence, and a whopping March 2004 on the employment. He filled out two lines for each. *sigh* This was one of those times for which I'm glad I keep everything, although I did need to do a bit of research for when I lived with my sister here (dang, do I remember having to keep the house clean for those pictures).

I'm going to take my poor little hand and wrist to bed now. Yes, with Br. Cadfael.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Thursday Evening

After work, I got gas for Gertrude, then went by the drycleaning place. There was a highschool boy there who wasn't really interested in helping me, and rather wished I would go away and was just this side of polite about it. I left the box and a note for his boss asking her to call or email me at home or at work and tell me what could be done in terms of cleaning, preservation, and storage. (Some of the lace doilies are so frail they are sewn into the tissue paper to keep them in place.)

Came home, drank up all my milk and ate some cheese puff things. Fell on the bed with a Br. Cadfael mystery (2nd since Saturday's excursion), and decided I didn't want to do much work this evening.

Invited Elisabeth over; watched Secondhand Lions. WOW! It's a really good movie! Somewhat like Princess Bride, but definitely its own movie. I wish the living room had more of a muffling effect—my laughter was rather loud. Also, Kermit's DVD software is really nice and user friendly. Hmm. I should look up that comic strip and get caught up.

Homework in progress:
  • finish the piles (I worked on this the tiniest bit, or at least I threw things away.);
  • take the towel off the ottoman already;
  • get blank slipcovers (still under consideration);
  • find some baskets for crafts to be placed on the top of the desk (emailed mother);
  • ask my mother if she could send Ganga's knicknack shelf (I don't know about shipping furniture, but it doesn't hurt to ask, right?)—no, didn't hurt at all, yet.;
  • put up the bathroom shelf with toggle bolts.
  • lamps in bedroom;
  • lamps in living room;
  • adjust bathroom painting within frame;
  • take pictures;
  • organize top of desk.
Next up: the weekend, during which I aim to go through the [cue dramatic music] paper files! (Of course, I *aim* to do everything and more, but there are movies to be watched, and a certain medieval monk's adventures to peruse.) Hey! I made progress! Go, me! Go, my family! Go, my apartment! Go to bed!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Not "Trading Spaces" Resumes

New computer, so I downloaded a whole bunch of things which are ALL aggravating me, with their faux-helpfulness. I wanna click and drag to the internet already! Rawr!

Oh, well. Here comes some coding. Please leave off commenting for a while, and don't comment on the pictures, because they will go away. Hopefully in the way in which I say, instead of blithering off into the ether.

I was partially successful in my homework. I went to Big Lots to look at slipcovers the one loveseat slipcover. Their frames weren't so great, either. Luckily, I had asked E and R from work, and they had given me directions to "Ocean State Job Lot" which is the weirdest name for a store, but I found couch slipcovers for $29.99, and some really awesome frames (just frames, for not much money) for the iris pictures, and one for a St Peter icon which my mother sent (really just a page in a magazine, but I know my St Peter when I see him) for Virgil's nameday (June 29). I even picked up some surge protectors for the outlet dilemma there. For cheap! Then I went to the drycleaners and found out they close at 7. (Did I forget to rant about Boston traffic? Silly me.) So, at 7:15, I went home and called Jenny over.

We put the iris photos in frames and hung them above my messy desk:

Garden above the mess

Jenny and Virgil hung the magnolia print in the large empty space on the south-east wall:

Large magnolia picture ... and mess

Virgil, sitting up straight at his computer desk

What? You think I'm posting pictures of *me* on my blog? You don't know me very well.

I did clean off the dining room table last night, and now the framed icon of St Peter looks nice on the table. I love Jenny's placement of the icons:

Dining "room" table

Top: Mystical supper; left: Sweet-kissing Panagia; middle: Christ; right: Holy Trinity.

I like how clean and happy the bathroom wall is now:

Bathroom wall

Holy Apostle Peter, pray to God for us!

Icon of St Peter in frame

... 'cause we gots homework:
  • finish the piles (Jenny did say we made progress);
  • take the towel off the ottoman already;
  • get blank slipcovers (we may need to wait on this due to budget);
  • find some baskets for crafts to be placed on the top of the desk (ask my mother first);
  • ask my mother if she could send Ganga's knicknack shelf (I don't know about shipping furniture, but it doesn't hurt to ask, right?);
  • put up the bathroom shelf with toggle bolts.
I have some self-assigned homework, too, but I'm tired of battling the internet.

Pray for me, the tired and worthless sinner.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Showers of Babies

So maybe baby showers are fun after all, especially when the invitation says to bring your favorite dessert.

Jenny was there. I got in trouble. She's coming over tomorrow. I will now stop blogging and take the piles off the dining table, and hang up the clothes which currently sprawl over the music corner.

Let's review the homework:
Our homework, due Thursday evening two weeks ago [*hangs head in shame*]:
* all the piles of *stuff* must get put away, not just shoved somewhere new. This will be the hardest piece of homework for me yet; [Status: Halfway done. Now where does it go?]
* go to Big Lots and check out the slipcovers; [Status: I don't know where Big Lots is yet. Tomorrow, I will ask E at work for directions to the (closest) one, which is 10 miles south of work; then I will go there and look at slipcovers.]
* look for frames for some photographs (my father took some pictures of my mother's butterfly irises in the backyard -- she can grow irises like nobody's business) so I can hang them over my desk; [Status: Not even started. Tomorrow I will go to Savers with the photograph binder to see whether there are any I like.]
* get some hand-me-down lace linen things (including an ancient baptismal baby dress) drycleaned and properly stored (no, not "get them," just "get them drycleaned and properly stored" -- I don't go *looking* for this stuff. um. most of the time.); [Status: Moved outside the door, but no further. These will go with me tomorrow and I will drop them off at the dry cleaner's.]
* buy something so there are more outlets in the bedroom (Jenny suggested that we get something so that by flipping the switch, we can have both lamps turn on at the same time; also, there is no room for one of the bedside lamps to go into an outlet). [Status: Oh, yeah. I forgot about that, too. I will stop by Home Depot to see what options they have, but will check Savers first.]

Bonus homework:
* Put up the shelf which fell down, this time using toggle bolts;
* figure out who wants the pegboard, as it is too small for Jenny to use: Alan and Shirley;
* take more pictures of the apartment.

Okay. Dining table, pile of clothes, and maybe the stuff* my mother sent.

*Including a letter warning me to cut down my caffeine intake. Sorry. I mean, if my body could produce caffeine, so I could have a negative intake, I would, just for her. Since I only have a coke (no, really, a Coca-Cola) about once a month, I'm not sure where she's getting this. She's the one who cut down from 40 to seven cups of tea a day, and my dad is the one who is addicted and allergic to coffee (he avoids it). I still cringe when I have to go into the office kitchen and there's fresh coffee at 3:00 pm. I mean, ew. Ever since I learned that caffeine dehydrates you (thank you, Texas high school marching band), I've been content to eschew sodas, etc.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Note to self: Husband-whapping

When whapping husband upside the head with the new copy of the Reader's Digest, be aware that it will fling itself from the plastic coating and skitter across the couch, leading said husband to laugh at your shrieks of surprise. This does not achieve the desired "whapping" effect.

Duly noted.

My weekend

I had one.

Friday night we were exorbitant and ordered pizza.

On Saturday, he went to Liturgy and I slept in. We went to the library and I cleaned out an entire shelf of Br. Cadfael books. Yum. That was enough for him to carry, so I didn't get any Sr. Fidelma. We also got three DVDs. Although there is a large selection of VHS, and our VCR works better than the DVD drive (software issues), the quality of the VHS tapes is so variable, I've decided not to bother.

On Sunday, we went to Cohasset for Orthros and Liturgy at the Nativity-Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church where Virgil has been farmed out to chant. I really like it there, except for the ... rather strong ... invitation ... to participate in the choir rehearsal. (No problems with that except for the DURING ORTHROS part.) If I'm-a have to get up in the mornings to drive (or ride, this Sunday) for about an hour to get to church and nobody else is there, I'm going to want to be IN church and listen to the theologically-charged Orthros service WITH my husband. I didn't say that, however, following Miss Manners' advice to repeat ad nauseam your final answer; eventually it was accepted (with astonishment and disapproval—which was odd, considering that it would have been me and the choir director). Very odd.

Anyhow, Liturgy was comfortable, in that we used the red book and the green book which I was used to from St. Andrew's. I also must confess to a certain amount of smugness when the choir director, wide-eyed, sincerely thanked the choir for their efforts. (Um. I knew it would be the same hymns I'm used to, barring Pentecostal hymns, so any fears of having people sight-reading were completely unfounded.) *sigh* All that aside, their choir (okay, their choir director and the three people besides me and V who were there) were really, really nice to sing with.

The priest was wittier than I was prepared for first thing in the morning. He was talking to a lady when I came in, following Virgil. "Ah, this is Virgil, the seminarian. He's here to chant. I believe that's his wife. I don't know why she's here." He managed to be welcoming, but it was still strange.

Then we went shopping for groceries. You know, things you put in your shopping cart, perhaps use coupons to purchase, like apples, juice, milk, chips, and a computer. Hee. It was cheap, and there was a $100-off coupon. There's a green light which blinks when it sleeps, so it's now named Kermit. This replaces Cicero, which my dad purchased for me when I started college in 1998. (Yes, I know I'm a baby.) I called my dad for father's day, and he said he might like to get the computer back, so not to use it as a boat anchor. I said (truthfully) that we were using it as a doorstop, and he said that was okay. I think I miss my dad. I hate that he's still in pain, but I am very relieved and happy that he does not have signs of cancer any more. (Thank you, God.) He sounded happy on the phone call, even saying that he should look into coming to visit. The doctors all predicted he would be dead some months ago. I think he should stay around so he can play with *my* children. He's a very good grandpa.

For dinner, we had pizza thanks to our new downstairs (and to the side) neighbors, Anthony and Elisabeth. Thanks to leftovers from the Friday pizza, and my addiction to pizza bites, that made the fifth straight meal of pizza.

Also on Sunday, I baked two batches of brownies and three loaves of the detested banana bread (*you* make it, under duress, every week for months, and see whether you can stand looking at the yellowy milky mess that says, "GLORP"). I managed to give one of each to the Guggs, one banana bread to the Boyds, take one banana bread to work where it was appreciated. (Notice this means I have a full brownie pan to come home to, and my husband even put it in the plastic container so they'll still be soft!) I like it when things-to-bake all bake at the same temperature. Naturally, I'll need to make more brownies for tomorrow's baby shower (Miruna's brother! I am prepared and braced for Romanian-Welsh cuteness!), and since I have two brownie pans, I may as well bake two. Banana bread is under duress, but brownies are *chocolate*.

Today, when trying to pray before eating lunch, my mind came up with, "Good afternoon, Sir." Not really what I had intended. (Far cry from the Our Father, which is what I was going for. Maybe I should move my lunch time earlier.) I ate much healthier than I did over the weekend. My pizza bites were accompanied by chicken nuggets, an apple, and a York Peppermint Pattie.

I am now prepared for my Google ads to think all I talk about on my blog is LUNCH.

This entry was brought to you by Miriam and Philippa, because one said "ravelled sleeve of care" and I miss her, and the other says she likes my blog-posts. Sorry this isn't very good. Next time maybe I'll add the time I fought off space aliens with my mad brownie-making abilities.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Don't you love it when, after a long and wretched weekend, after you've finally gotten together and baked the banana bread and cleaned up a little and done most of the laundry, and you're finally putting away the towels, the shelf put up last weekend suddenly collapses with a loud bang and clatter, reducing you to tears as you fold underwear and pair socks?

Me either.

The tears are dried, the husband is home and has vowed to fix the shelf, the laundry is completely done, the living room and bedroom look really rather nice. There's funny stuff on television, E.T. from the library, milk coming over from the neighbors (it was free, but they have no room in the fridge), and there will be a yummy dinner tonight.

I guess I'll live. Sometimes, though, it is very hard to be me. Most of that is my fault.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Yesterday I forgot my medicine at home. I kept finding mistakes that other people had made. Since most of the work I needed to do was task- not people-related, I managed to hold my tongue, but I think I may have let a few sharply made remarks go by.

L is back, R was gone, and E was there. E had entered the invoices yesterday. I am quicker and more accurate than she. I don't know why she didn't ask me to do them. (If I had realized earlier, I would have offered, but it's better to have one person do them all the way through.)

When I got there on Thursday, I found that they had called the computer people to change my password. You know, instead of remembering that I'd told it to them (why we have passwords in this office is moot: we have them, therefore we must, but let's not have them be secret, because I might need something on your machine when you're gone.), and then emailed it to them *that morning*. I offered to help E out as much as I could, since she goes to let her dogs out on her lunch break. "Oh, I'll be done entering these by 2." (That's when I usually eat lunch.) So, she would eat lunch at 2, and I would eat when she came back, maybe as late as 3.

So she finished at 3, insisted that I eat lunch (wasn't going to argue -- there's only so long I can go through the day without breaking the night's fast). Augh. Why couldn't she have just *gone* to lunch. As R says, nobody is irreplaceable -- just go; we'll manage without you.

Yesterday, due to errors in entering the invoices, and communication mishaps, and who knows what else (metal fatigue, El Nino), several of the checks were wrong or had to be held or looked at. So, again, I ate lunch at 3. Throughout the day, E and I were the only ones there to answer the phones. Most of the time, if you're going to where you can't hear the phones (bathroom, upstairs, outside, to lunch) you *tell* the other person you're going. Especially if you're E, because you *get* a lot of the calls. Especially if you're the person who knows where things are, because I certainly don't, and can't find them if they're buried in piles all over your desk. Evidently telling one of the guys (or maybe they just noticed) is fine, you don't have to tell *me*. Needless to say, your "oh, just a minute, I don't need to tell her, I'll be gone so short a time" errand will take longer than expected. If you say you'll only be gone half an hour for lunch, and then (because someone has taken out your dogs, and you can take your car in for repairs) you stay out for an hour, it might be nice to call and say so!!


So then I'm exhausted when I get home. I don't want to go shopping. It's hot and breezeless and clingy in our apartment, and the only relief to be had (bar starting the moisture-sucking air conditioner) is opening the windows -- which lets in all sorts of creepy crawlys. Not so pleasant, especially when you're trying to wear as little as possible.

But someone has to go shopping for the chapel. So Peterbird goes. And comes back. HE BROKE HIMSELF. He is upset because he broke "your favorite shirt" -- yeah, whatever, it was good light cotton, but it was $1.99, I'll get over it. Meanwhile, YOU are bleeding and smarting from FIVE different places. Do NOT tell me you are fine. *Mother bear growl* We, naturally, have no large bandages, so on goes more clothing to be socially presentable, begging bandages and tape from the upstairs neighbors who are at home.

So we go together to get a mind-boggling amount of oil, five bottles of communion wine ("Rejoice and drink" on the box around the bottle, in Greek, says my Greek scholar.), and various cleaning supplies, and some groceries for us. Then we unload at the chapel, and he stays to clean with some people there. He should be back in about an hour (the regular cleaning is at 10 am on Saturdays), so I go home and unload the groceries and park the car. I bring him the ice pack he left in the car and ask if there's anything I can do. Frustrated that he won't answer my question, I go home. After all, he'll only be gone for an hour.

Two and a half hours later (man, that chapel must be clean), he comes home. I am, predictably, still cranky. I sleep on the couch in the festering and humid living room (except for battling the pillows, it's probably better -- for my throat).

So I sleep late. He is out at a nursing home Liturgy. He comes back, changes, and goes to clean the chapel. Nobody came at 10 am today (he cleaned last night, with others whose schedules it suited, because he couldn't come this morning).

He is always patient. I feel like I'm always boiling over, festering. I don't know how to get rid of all this anger.

The cool times I have seen are when I was sealing envelopes at work, singing in my head the megalynarion of the small paraklesis:

"Higher than the heavens above are you,
and you are much purer
than the radiance of the sun.
You who have redeemed us
from the curse which is upon us,
Lady of all people,
in hymns do we honor you."

"Speechless be the lips of impious ones,
those who do not reverence
your great icon, the sacred one
which is called Directress
and was depicted for us
by one of the apostles,
Luke the Evangelist."

There are three verses in between, but those are the two I know so far. I am working on learning them. I want to be better than I am, but I don't know how to let go of the nasty, icky parts. I feel like I am covering myself in filth. Why do I keep fighting going to Confession?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Originally uploaded by magdalainn.
My mother sent this picture of my beautiful niece, Maya.

Glory be to God!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Out Sick

My throat was feeling horrid yesterday, and today the pain blossomed, so I've been home sick. Peterbird got his doctor's appointment (another step towards getting a work permit) and we decided to go get pictures taken for him (and realized I needed some, too) at the AAA place. Stupid waiting for a year to get a Plus membership. Stupid division of the country so my Texas Plus membership didn't carry over. (Otherwise, mine would have been free, and Peterbird would have had a regular membership, so we would have saved some money.)

I feel much better when I'm eating things, probably because I have something going down my throat instead of having air hit it over and over. I try to sleep on my side to avoid the ever-dreaded post-nasal drip, which makes sleeping on my back that much more desirable. (I usually sleep on my side. You know, for all of you who are taking notes.) I avoid my beloved milk. I'm not good at avoiding talking, so when I realize I want to talk, I head for the computer. If the Peterbird is reading over my shoulder (as he demonstrates), I just type in whatever window. Otherwise, I open up a notebook document and up the font to about 40 in case he's across the room.

Just now I made him sign on to aim so I could talk to him. (As one of the main chanters here over the summer, I *don't* want his throat to suffer (what, and the rest of him is okay for pain? crazy person.), so he's been taking his vitamins (and we're on echinacea and vitamin C from our neighbors, too. hee.) and gargling salt water.

It's fun, when you're using aim to avoid talking, to write "*FROWN*" and "pbth", and make those faces until (finally) he looks at you and laughs.

My tummy has decided it wants to complain, too, so I will rebed myself and go finish the second Cadfael mystery. (The first already completed this morning.)

In other news: I put the towels away. The living room is full of piles entreating me for similar use, but I scoff (yes, in their general direction; no, I am too tired to say, "scoff scoff, scorn scoff scorn" as has been my wont on occasion); there are also ants on occasion. It creeps me out that there's only ONE gigantor ant at a time, in the middle of a room. Only two have been anywhere near food.

Right. Br. Cadfael and horizontality are calling me. Besides, I have to get rested so I can watch House.

Monday, June 06, 2005

My Husband

[This started as a response to Philippa's comment, but grew.]

My husband likes to tell people (or maybe I like to tell people) that he married me for comic relief. Really, though, he takes our marriage seriously. That means that he is working to make me a better person. (He says I help him, but I don't quite see that as much.) He would wait on me hand and foot if I would be good. (Oh, but I'm lazy, so he mustn't, except on occasion.)

I read a book called "The Blue Window" in which the main character told a friend that if she (the friend) wanted a husband, to pray for a good one. The friend was shocked, never having thought of this before. When I decided to try to be good, and to keep trying, I asked God for a helpmate. Now I have even better than I imagined. He gave me my first experience of Orthodoxy, and pushes and pulls me toward Christ every day. I try not to kick and scream too much.

Throughout high school and college, I struggled with depression. At college (in the north, with *winter* and *February, month of doom*) I learned I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which basically meant that no sun = no happy. I went down to recuperate in Texas for a year, then went back to finish. When I went back, I was better able to face that I didn't like who I was and who I was becoming *and* that *I* had to choose, daily, what to do about it. God took me up on my request for His help. I have spent two happy winters up north so far. Peterbird attributes this conquering of SADness to the all-conquering Light of Christ.

When I think about it, I am happy and at peace. I need more work on realizing that, instead of picking on my husband, and exerting my laziness, both of which make me unhappy. I love having our icons hung on the walls. If ever I should be sad, the eyes of my friends will, if not lead me home, at least assure me that they are praying on my behalf, urging me to be good and happy. My mother had the idea that we have a duty to be happy, with the realization that you cannot both sin and be happy.

Spiritual growth frustrates me. I want charts and markers and definite points beyond which I do not have to return. Fr. Seraphim says that it is more like parting your hair a new way: by combing it over and over, it will be easier, even though some days you will have frustrating setbacks.

Now to bed with me and my sore throat, to pray for my husband who is at the vigil for St. Panagis. *sigh* I will most likely do more pleasure-reading than praying, but I will fight a little good fight at least.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Not "Trading Spaces" - 2

Let's see. The homework assignment we had been working on (second one):
* rearrange the living room: two desks side-by-side, then the filing cabinet, then the couch which was previously against the wall to go to the middle of the room, the entertainment center catty-corner;
* hang the curtains;
* re-place the shelves in the bathroom (Peterbird is tall, and hit his head on them where they had been); and
* hang the two large floral pictures.

We did to the living room until it cooperated. The curtains obeyed Virgil (one husband, many names). We bought a shelf from Home Depot for the bathroom, and Virgil re-hung them all in a lovely manner which I didn't expect. (I expected a different lovely manner.) We hung one large floral picture and decided to hang the other in a different spot.

In chapel this morning, we were both at the right chanter's stand, which was fun, and Mary Beth and Fr. Seraphim were at the left. I love singing with people who both know what they're doing and sound good doing it. Unless you added Nektarios, I don't know of any other favorite chanters of mine.

At home again we relaxed with some food and drink and watched tennis. It was the (actually quite exciting) French Open. Then it was back to work. We'd promised Jenny some banana bread, so we started that. Then we were having difficulties with the bathroom shelves, and invited Jenny over for a consult. I showed her some of the neat things I'd found at Bed, Bath & Beyond the other day. She said we should go ahead and get them. She hung a few things, then went to a Greek Festival somewhere with her family. Virgil had to stay home with the banana bread, since he had a funny idea that I knew what I was looking for. (I guess I did, and he's a better cook than I, anyhow.)

I found the two things at BB&B, and picked up a belated-birthday/early-nameday present for my Peterbird and his poor little feets (Soccer, basketball, me, Orthodoxy ...) as well as a hand-towel hook for the bathroom. Home Depot gave me a shelf for the bathroom, and I picked up some ant-killer (rah! stop coming into my house, gargantuan ants of doom!) at the generic grocery store.

The bathroom tower cabinet had to be assembled. I was almost done before 5 pm, but I had promised Peterbird I would go to chapel, and he said it was the service of Small Paraklisis, and that's my favorite, so I went. (Does he *always* have to be right? I felt so much better afterwards.)


Augh. We forgot that we/Virgil have/has to clean the Department of Religious Education office this weekend. Now that's done, and the second batch of banana bread is in the oven.

After Paraklisis, I finished assembling the tower cabinet, and Virgil worked on hanging the bathroom shelves. Jenny called to say she'd be over; we had dinner in the 15-minute grace period. I thought I would have to assemble the (matching!) medicine/wall cabinet, too, but it was already assembled! Yay! Jenny came over and helped rearrange the living room. We hung (liberal use of we; Jenny hung) the icons in the living room to make a reading corner which greets you as you open the front door, and a little icon set over the dining room table. [We had been eating on a tray on the ottoman, one large table covered with icons, the other with junk; now one is a dining table and the other is Virgil's desk; we will still probably use the tray on the ottoman.]

The bathroom shelves are now up on the wall with the toilet. On the facing wall, there's a hook for a hand towel. There's a decorative glass shelf (moved from the wall opposite) with two candles on it, and our wedding-gift ceramic cross which had been still in its protective box until this point -- that's all above the first towel dowel. The second, near the window IS UP!* Above it is the medicine cabinet, on it are the guest towels with pretty flowers embroidered in them (and under those are the dark purple and dark green hand towels which are not currently on the hand-towel hook!), and under it is the tower cabinet. The curtains are up, and on the wall facing the mirror is the pretty iris watercolor, so you can see it when you walk in, reflected at you. It's *wonderful*.

*Here's a long story. This is the thing which bothered me most about our apartment. We had one place to hang towels, a fixture for another ... with a matching hole and the requisite hardware. For nine months. Nevermind that the towel rod which is up isn't level (ha! nothing in our apartment is perpendicular or level except by chance!), I just hated looking at that hole in the wall, and the hardware in the windowsill gathering cobwebs (okay, spiderwebs, but they became cobwebs as soon as we noticed the spiders in succession). It's rickety, but it's there, affixed to the wall! The tall mirror is now screwed onto the outside of the bathroom door. We are bold under Jenny's magnificent tutelage!

The music corner in the bedroom now has Virgil's Glee Club print on the littler wall, and on the larger, the poster of Xerxes, which is the opera we were both in together. My mother had sent the poster along with framing materials and instructions, but I had kept it (all together now) in its original package until today. There's a lamp and a chair (with arms, but not an armchair) in front of the window, and we've parked the foot spa dealie there for now. Virgil said I should have a go, and that was one of the highlights of my feet's existence. Too bad I didn't have one when I did Irish step dancing when I was little. Anyway.

We sent Jenny home with banana bread (last time she carried off three of my (tiny tiny) grandmother's dresses (both the grandmother and the dresses were tiny, go fig) which would have fit me before I went into high school. If I had worn corsets, I might have had a chance. As it was, I was simply holding onto them because that's what I do with things which are given to me. My husband is helping me work on that, and I'm deciding whether or not I want to work on that. (Just don't tell him. I got rid of my precious cardboard boxes yesterday -- and they May Have Been Useful someday somehow to someone.

Our homework, due Thursday evening:
* all the piles of *stuff* must get put away, not just shoved somewhere new. This will be the hardest piece of homework for me yet;
* go to Big Lots and check out the slipcovers;
* look for frames for some photographs (my father took some pictures of my mother's butterfly irises in the backyard -- she can grow irises like nobody's business) so I can hang them over my desk;
* get some hand-me-down lace linen things (including an ancient baptismal baby dress) drycleaned and properly stored (no, not "get them," just "get them drycleaned and properly stored" -- I don't go *looking* for this stuff. um. most of the time.);
* buy something so there are more outlets in the bedroom (Jenny suggested that we get something so that by flipping the switch, we can have both lamps turn on at the same time; also, there is no room for one of the bedside lamps to go into an outlet).

Yes, Peterbird, I am still blogging. (As you read over my shoulder.)

Peter is exempt from most of the work this time, as there is a Vigil this week (St. Panagis, Monday night), Liturgy (Leave-taking of Pascha; Wednesday morning); Ascension (Thursday, another Liturgy), and he's the ecclesiarch for the chapel, so he has to be there early and late as well as be in charge of setting up and cleaning up. (We won't mention the part about preparing to be a chant leader or studying for his Greek class or his job at the DRE, because that would make him sound superfantas..) okay, he stopped reading over my shoulder. He really is superfantastic, and all this working with him makes me stop and wonder how on earth can I raise my children to follow his example. He never complains; he is always patient with me. He loves for me to be happy, and will strive to his utmost (which is quite a lot) to make sure that I am a good person first and a happy person second (in terms of ensuring long-run happiness over short-term gain - I am impatient and still (I think) a spoiled brat).

It is tired and my husband is in bed. I think he needs snuggling. Boy, is he cute.

[Pictures are being taken, but I am as yet too tired to post them. Management apologizes for the delay.]

My husband tells me I wrote "It is tired." I choose not to believe him. Eye? Mayke a mistake? Know way.

Errata: My mother, not my father, took the pictures of her butterfly iris (or fortnight lily), and the corner shelf was not my great-grandmother's (Edna or Ganga) but my step-greatgrandmother's (Leota).

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Not "Trading Spaces"

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I got out of my car and went to the apartment the street-ish way, not the way through the woods. I looked down the path through the woods, and it was so beautiful I couldn't help going to the apartment, getting the camera and leaving a note: "Wife w/ camera. Chicken in fridge. Laundry?"

I checked the time; I had about half an hour before Vespers could be expected to let out. I changed out of work clothes and into some raggedy ones: one of Peterbird's T-shirts and some sweatpants, and my old sneakers. I went into the woods and snapped pictures of the new flowers blooming. I walked up some little hummocks, and carefully walked down the other side. Nearly everything was covered with lush green undergrowth. There was an area which had fewer trees, though not quite a clearing, and the flowers there were white, pink, purple, and a few were yellow. The leaves looked like lupine - somewhat like bluebonnet leaves. There were rose vines everywhere, but the leaves were riddled with spots, and there were no roses.

After I'd taken a picture of my hand (trying to get a better picture of the spider in her web), my Romanian giant came crashing through the woods, finding the rose vines in his own way (thorns first). We made our way back to the path, and slowly back up to the apartment building. At first I was lingering because it's beautiful, but a freakishly large mosquito helped my husband convince me to move it. We went into the lobby of the building for a moment's rest, but went out to the front to mingle with the crowd. I wanted to show Vassi the pictures which had turned out especially well. (And, just maybe, play with HARRY! who is one of my adorees.) We walked with her back to her building across the street and talked to Tom (Jenny's Tom, not Vassi's Tom; and here I thought everyone was named George).

I thought of my ideas to paint our kitchen, and realized I'd never seen the things Jenny had done with their apartment. I really wanted to see them -- everyone who had done so simply raved about them, but I hadn't made time (in the nine-plus months we've been here) to see them. So Jenny apologized for the imaginary mess and showed me around.

The two things which stand out the most were the paint. The kitchens in these apartments are rather drab: everything is painted off-white, and the trim is white (maybe they're supposed to be the same color). She had taken the window-frame and painted it red, with a red sheer curtain draped artlessly across. It was boldly beautiful. In the bathroom, her shower curtain was sheer, with a green design of ivy-ish leaves stitched into it. She had taken the walls around and reflected that design to lighten that room, too.

I told her about my idea for my kitchen, and she said she'd like to see our place and see what could be done with it. Naturally, we invited her over right away. Somehow, between our mess and her brilliant ideas, we started to play the Trading Spaces game, with a few variations. She's the main designer (she doesn't have to be, but since I like many of her ideas more than mine, she's allowed to boss as much as she likes). Virgil is mostly the grunt-work, and I do what I can.

First she took the extra adjustable-length dowel rod and turned it into a shower curtain liner rod, having us throw out the broken shower curtain liner. Now we can use the shower without feeling oppressed by the dark shower curtain -- with just the liner, and the window unshaded, the bathroom and tub are filled with light, and that makes everything feel cleaner.

Jenny gave us homework for the first night:
* rearrange the bedroom: bed into the middle, bookshelves lined up on the newly-accessible wall, bedside tables on either side, a music corner using the two chairs and table and magazine rack, and the dresser where the little bookcase had previously gone;
* take down the shelves in the bathroom;
* move the futon to the storage area;
* take pictures of the Lego church and take it apart (if you're good I'll put these online);
* put the laundry baskets in the laundry room cubby and move the womanly unmentionables into the lowest drawer; and
* pare down our upstairs sheets to two or three sets and send the rest into storage.

She would come back at 8 am the next day (Saturday) to check on us.

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to do the laundry that night, too. We got all that done except the sheets thing, with which she helped us the next morning. In order to move the futon into the storage area, I had to wade in and break down boxes and discard those (this is hard for me -- I even cling to beloved cardboard boxes) in order to make room on our pallet. Just that much did so much.

Jenny did come back at 8 am on Saturday morning (in her pjs, as promised). She helped with the sheets. She hung our stefanothiki above our bed, flanked by two icons. We talked about icons as art, and how that attitude doesn't work. The icons have their places, regardless of what color or size they are: whom they represent is the important part. (I kinda was happy that the two icons were similar, but hey. One is the icon of St. Mary Magdalene, which I received from Fr. George and St. Andrew's on the day of my chrismation; the other is of St. Andrew, given to Virgil for outstanding service to the parish. She gave us our homework assignment and said she'd be back on Sunday night.

Our second assignment:
* rearrange the living room: two desks side-by-side, then the filing cabinet, then the couch which was previously against the wall to go to the middle of the room, the entertainment center catty-corner;
* hang the curtains;
* re-place the shelves in the bathroom (Peterbird is tall, and hit his head on them where they had been); and
* hang the two large floral pictures.

Virgil had to go clean the chapel around 9:30, so I rearranged the living room while he was gone. I emptied the roll-top desk, but just manouvered the full filing cabinet (thus proving my "honorary man" status to my husband yet again -- don't ask; he'd only be too happy to tell you) into place across the room. The entertainment center was mostly just wrestled around, full (and most of the shelves as yet have no backing to keep things on.

Our homework involved shopping to get the hardware for hanging the curtains. George and Elisabeth from downstairs had given us curtains and rods from an aunt of theirs who didn't want them any more, from the shipment including the two couches, chair, ottoman, roll-top desk, entertainment center, lamps, and sundry.

We decided to go first to Bed, Bath & Beyond to return (after how many months of marriage now?!) an unworking wedding present. We decided to get things there: picture hangers, a level, hardware for the curtains. We also priced bathroom shelf-things, as I'd like to have more storage in general for the bathroom. Then we went shopping for foodstuffs at BJs, then stopped at Savers to drop off some of the things we could live without: a few books, pairs of shoes, movie posters, and the computer monitor (still working) that my office decided to throw away (next to the dumpster) because it wasn't flat screen. The monitor had lived in my closet for a while, because I thought *somebody* would surely need a monitor, even if it was bigger than mine is.

So we're back home, and the curtains aren't cooperating as much as everything else has. We've borrowed a drill from Allan, and we've put up one set of curtains so far. We'll need to go back and get another set of hardware for the kitchen window curtains.

Now the two windows in the bedroom have curtains, and we're both exhausted and rather cross. There are curtains and pieces of things all over the bed, drill bits and screws all over the bedroom floor, and dust on the bathroom floor where the towel rack *would not* behave. We've battled ants and aches, hunger and clumsiness. I think we're winning, but the mess is formidable. There's a picture hung, and we have tomorrow afternoon to continue the battle to complete our homework. Ugh. These nasty flying creatures keep getting into the apartment. The ants are huge, and the spiders, although abundant, don't seem to do much to keep either at bay.

There's a sobby Audrey Hepburn on the television, saying, "You don't know what love is." God bless you, my Peterbird. I know Who love is.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I don't think anyone else does this.

Today I cheered the microwave, saying, "Go, go, hotness!"

I don't understand the things my brain tells me to say. (See also calling my car "babycakes.")