Sunday, July 24, 2005

My husband is the best because:

We spend an hour looking for his health insurance card, deciding to actually file the piles of papers which need to be filed. On a whim, I check the "health insurance" folder which is already set up. First thing in there.

He mixes the wet (and squishy and gross) ingredients of the banana bread so I don't have to. He remembers to take them out in time when I forget to set the timer.

He used the note I wrote him as a printer test page and put it on the fridge.

He fixed my car.

He read Anne of Green Gables and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because I asked him to. And he liked them.

He always puts the toilet seat and cover down so I'm not afraid to take my contacts out within five feet. He puts the Listerine back catty-corner in the corner the way I like it, because I asked him to.

He gets me up every morning; if he's not there, he sets the alarm for me.

On our wedding night, he sang to me all night because I couldn't go to sleep with an earache.

When I got too stressed out in planning the wedding, talking to my mother, he would talk to her even if he didn't want to, so I could take a break.

He forgives me for being horrible to him.

When the priest missed us for the Holy Gifts during communion, because we were singing, he came with me to the bathroom afterwards and held me when I cried. After Liturgy, he asked Father for the Eucharist for us and we were able to partake.

He reminds me to go talk to my father confessor.

He gives me a shining example of how to be an Orthodox Christian.

He named my new computer "the wifely one."

He polished my shoes again.

He vacuums, does dishes and laundry, and kills things with too many legs. He also reaches high things for me, and lifts heavy ones.

He sends me dumb links, like the one to the Wife-Carrying Championships in Finland.

He does horrible things with the English language, and thinks they're funny. And he's right.

He's almost always right.

He prays with and for me.

He gives me reason to thank God every day for simply being alive, even when I don't remember to.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Road Trip: Georgia and Maryland, July 2005

Friday, July 8:

We woke up early; I assembled things in piles for Peterbird to pack later in the day. He drove me to work, and then took Gertrude in to get fixed up a little. I got out of work around 3 pm (my job has wonderful perks), and we set off from there. We took Interstate 95 down to Rhode Island, took the loop around Providence, and continued along the coast of Connecticut. We started to go around New York City as soon as we reached the New York state line, taking us through Pennsylvania, where we paused at a rest stop for a refreshing three-hour nap in Gertrude. (Yay to station wagons!)

Saturday, July 9:

We woke up from our nap refreshed enough to press on, down through one of the narrower parts of Maryland. Virginia seemed to take forever, even though I slept through much of it. North Carolina and South Carolina were spent admiring the greenery, and finally we passed into Georgia, west and south to Athens to Watkinsville.

We were greeted by the Horescus and borş with sour cream. I was too full to remember what came after that, but it was even more filling and tasty. There was a lot of guilt for not finishing food. There was also a lot of food. We went for a brief walk and watched the first of several movies. There were unsuccessful attempts to open a large (foot-high) jar of pickled peppers: everyone had a go, and we even tried varying the temperature with hot water.

Sunday, July 10:

We said the prayers in preparation for Holy Eucharist, and drove to St. Philothea, parish of Fr. Anthony Salzman, an iconographer whom we had met just the week before. It was a lovely building, and I enjoyed singing with the welcoming choir. The director was clear without being distracting from the service. The parish seemed cohesive and familial. Also importantly, they had ice cream afterwards.

I think there was a nap and more food afterwards. Mrs. H— and I went to the grocery store to get a few things. My list included a gripper thing (you didn't think I'd given up on that pickled-pepper jar, did you?) and some Blue Bell ice cream (only available in certain places). The smallest container they had was the half-gallon size, but it was on sale, so we got one. I ate a significant bit of it before we went to their daughter's house. Mrs. H— had told me that since she was on a diet, and Mr. H— was trying to not eat too much sugar, we would be responsible for eating the ice cream before we left—and Peterbird doesn't like ice cream: it's cold.

We enjoyed meeting and seeing again, respectively, their daughter. We enjoyed her, her husband, and their lovely house. We had brought the Blue Bell, and enjoyed it with the ice cream they already had in some post-prandial sundaes. Then we left it there. I was a little sad, but somewhat relieved that I didn't have to finish an entire carton by myself. The gripper thing refused to work on the pickle jar, and their counters weren't the type I felt comfortable whanging the rim of the lid of a large glass jar against.

Monday, July 11:

Mrs. H— went to work early in the morning, and by the time I got up, Mr. H— and Peterbird were ready to go to the library, as there was no internet access at the house. I was really hungry when we came home around noon, but was just going to lay down for a minute ....

Around five o'clock, I got up for a late lunch. We watched another movie, had another wonderful Romanian dinner, and had another restful night in the guest room. I worked on learning Romanian throughout the week.

Tuesday, July 12:

We went east to Augusta to visit my sister J—. We admired her house (she doesn't like it; it's "just an investment"), then went to see the scenic Savannah riverwalk. We had lunch at the Boll Weevil Cafe, known for its desserts.

After another half-hour of walking (there were more-than-healthy servings of cheesecake) on the riverwalk, we got in the car and toured the base where she's currently stationed. I had never been on a base before, and it was kinda neat; she bought me, as an anniversary present, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

We went back to her house and watched Hitch, which we enjoyed immensely. The air conditioner stopped working, but we drove back to the H— house, where a delighted Mrs. H— showed me she had bought a replacement half-gallon of Blue Bell. I suffered through a large bowl as we watched some short travel documentaries about Greece and relaxed.

Wednesday, July 13:

We went west to Atlanta to visit Lissa and Gabi. Mikey was at work, but we enjoyed the rest of his family just the same. After lunch, we went to the High Museum of Art where I was unsuccessful in finding my chair. I will have to go back. *sigh* I want to be able to make beautiful furniture, too. How come they never have any furniture in the gift shop? I left my contact information at the front in case they care and want to look for my chair (which I fell in love with the first time I went there, over ten years ago). The man said they had some pieces in storage, but they'd be opening up more space in the fall.

I took lots of pictures of Gabi and things we liked in the museum, but don't feel like posting them now.

We drove home to eat dinner and, for me, three bowls of ice cream. Yes, ice cream and movies are the backbone of the trip. Get over it.

Thursday, July 14:

Before I was awake, Peterbird and Mr. H— went to get an estimate on how much it would cost to fix Gertrude's air conditioning (too much). We went to the library in the morning again, coming back for lunch. I took a nap read Brother Cadfael. (You think wrong if I travel without reading material!)

In the evening, we watched another movie. (These movies included Her Alibi, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain.) Peterbird stole some of my ice cream! (Okay, only about four spoonfuls, but he should get his own ice cream if he doesn't like it! No use wasting Blue Bell on him.) So that's a half-gallon of ice cream I ate in three days. I'm still working on walking it off.

Peterbird, at my previous suggestion, took the jar out to the deck and struck the rim of the lid on the deck railing, then using the grippy thing, opened the jar. Victory! And I helped!

Friday, July 15:

We said our good-byes early in the morning (no air conditioning, remember? in the summer in the south), and drove (okay, I did no driving whatsoever on this trip) from Georgia through South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. We made pretty good time, until just before Alexandria (part of Washington, D.C.). Then we covered 50 miles in about two and a half hours. Next time, we'll plan better, so as to neither lose our air conditioning nor hit D.C. during Friday rush hour. Nonetheless, we reached the S— house in southwest Baltimore a little after six. We made friends with Eric, their beautiful black cat. J—, a former trumpet, showed us how he can use his drinking horn to play the Notre Dame fight song. S— was as friendly and wonderful as usual.

Saturday, July 16:

We drove to northeastern Baltimore to meet up with O— and his girlfriend for lunch. O— was one of Peterbird's English teachers in Nigeria, and they had many adventures together. He is like an older brother, and whenever Peterbird hears his voice on the phone, I can see it in his face even before he cracks it with a huge grin, just after he hears the exuberant "Petah!"

In the afternoon, I read the first two chapters of J—'s Harry Potter, watched Antz, and played Beyond Balderdash with J—, then went to Vespers to meet up with the Nees.

Their church, Holy Cross (Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green, one of my favorite authors), is simply beautiful. The walls glowed with icons, and the church was somewhat filled even for Vespers. I noticed that the sign outside said that they also have Vespers on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I hung out with Peterbird at the chant stand, and tried to be small and inobtrusive so I wouldn't get in the way. I liked trying to sing the ison for Laura's chanting; she has a wonderful voice.

We went to a gathering at the Nees' house after Vespers, and talked about all sorts of things (such as Romanian chant), found more eerie Orthodox "coincidences" (she (third from the left) just graduated from Holy Cross, but had previously graduated in the same class and high school as I, living in the neighboring subdivision), and watched Michael Nee's magic tricks (he's really good). It was glorious and unfortunately short, but wonderful to know, for the first time, that I would see all these people at church the next morning.

Laura gave me an extra copy of Harry Potter, and music which I admired so from Vespers (chant is okay, but I love harmony), but declined to let me steal away any children. So far. Maybe I can win her over with some Blue Bell. Or just visit more often. She is much more beautiful in person than in pictures.

Sunday, July 17:

Did I mention that I found the church beautiful at Vespers? That's nothing compared to the sunlit glory of icons lining the walls of a full church, vibrating with song. I had to stop myself from weeping with joy as my soul rejoiced in the feeling of truly being at home, acting according to its purpose. Being commemorated by name during the Great Entrance made my knees especially wobbly. With my emotions in this sort of vulnerability, I'm not sure I could handle a Presanctified Liturgy. I thought about how every time Peterbird and I commune together, we become better at being married.

We enjoyed the agape meal afterwards. Peterbird and I like this idea of returning the coffee hour to its original intent of sharing a meal and company with those with whom you commune. Little David stopped being standoffish to roar at me. I evidently gave a satisfactory cower-and-eep, and this ritual was repeated as many times as he could stop laughing to roar again until the more-adult types made me stop.

So we packed up the car, pausing to watch silly things from J—'s Monty Python DVD (the Lego version, etc.), then drove up through Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. We pulled over at some screechy glass-bottle sounds; I contrived a sling out of the detachable strap from our cooler for the tailpipe which had been dragging, and we drove on along the densely fogged Connecticut coast, on through Rhode Island and up to the Holy Cross campus around midnight. (Somewhere in there I learned the first part of the Our Father in Romanian.) We parked, turned off the car, and unloaded. Peterbird went to drive Gertrude down to her parking spot, and went screeching and smoking all the way there, where the compressor belt broke.

Monday, July 18:

I didn't go to work. Instead, I moped about my dead car, finished Harry Potter, and recovered a little from the trip. We reserved a rental car for Tuesday through Friday. We went with Anthony to look at some used cars for sale. They all look like cars. No cute boxy cars like my baby.

Later this week:

One of our neighbors who used to be a mechanic says that we can fix Gertrude. Peterbird is estimating it will cost less than a hundred dollars for parts to fix things, not including the air conditioner or power steering. (Evidently all sorts of things broke, related to the belt.) I am somewhat enjoying driving the little Dodge Neon: it's clean, it's quick, it has good acceleration; however, the car design limits my vision severely, and it has no character as far as I can tell.

We have, for the most part, stuck to the plan of walking in the evenings to reduce the amount of ice cream my hips are holding. I am very happy to be back editing the pages at OrthodoxWiki.

Today I just missed my nameday Vespers. Peterbird had to remind me. Some online communities which I have been a part of previously ... I don't think I want to be part of them any more. Going there and reading the posts makes me feel sad and somewhat awkward. Maybe we'll sing part of her Akathist tomorrow morning.

And that's what we did on our summer vacation. The end.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Coming Attractions

We've been on a car trip to Georgia, visiting friends of Peterbird's family, my sister J, college friends and their new baby, a museum, another couple of college friends with a loving cat, the Nees, their church and Khouria, and coming back home again. Apply the phrases "delightful," "refreshing," and "wonderful" to any of those events, and you'll be right.

It was a great trip. Except for the car. Gertrude brought us home faithfully, and died. I am an Orthodox Christian, and my car is thus an Orthodox car (because I said so, and *all* Creation is calling out for the touch of God's hand). As an Orthodox Christian, I *believe* in the resurrection. Even of my car. So we have a rental car for the rest of the week, and we're looking at our options. (Peterbird is doing more looking than I, but that's because he's hardworkinger and better. And taller, whether or not that enters into it.)

I took Monday off to read the rest of Harry Potter, even finding the word "pouffe" on one of the pages. (Silly me; forgot to mark it. Sorry, Jim.)

My parents are coming to visit in August. This might not even be a bad thing. (I said "might.")

Frederica Mathewes-Green's recent article has provoked a great deal of discussion.

A curious series of events has made me wonder what's going on: several car problems, culminating in Gertrude's demise, a clogged toilet, a power failure, phone failure ... Well, it's left me feeling rather precipitous. And, at the same time, held. I am learning to be a better wife, and I am happy. All these things are challenges to be overcome, dealt with, not obstacles to label "insurmountable" and weep at the vicissitudes of fate.* God is holding me in His hand.

*Yes, this is a cool phrase.

So! I will sort out what's what and type it up and post it for the delightment and/or amusement of those who desire suchlike. Also, please pray for my car and my dad.

I am happy and at peace. I read it on the internet; it must be true.

Friday, July 08, 2005

5 things I miss from my childhood

Laura, thank you for the tag.

I miss waking up early early on a Saturday morning, going over to my Godparents' house and playing quietly with my Godsisters (when your Godparents are married, you get a whole family!) until the arrival of the kolaches from the Brazos Blue Ribbon Bakery. (Link goes to the recipe for the fruit kolaches which I posted as part of a response to another answers game. Maybe questions make me hungry.) We would get boxes and boxes of them. Gabby liked the red fruit ones, but I only wanted the cream cheese fruit kolaches. Later, I decided the apple fruit ones wouldn't kill me. Only after we moved away did I come to appreciate the sausage kolaches. After the move, when we would go back, we'd call ahead and order dozens of them, visit just a little with the Godfamily (sometimes), then drive back home and freeze what wasn't eaten. I miss those Saturday mornings.

Sunday mornings were almost as fun. Sometimes we would get the McDonald's Big Breakfasts. The best part were the hashbrowns, with their own little paper sleeve. Nobody was willing to share those. If you didn't eat your eggs right away, they would get cold and icky. My sister showed me how to add them to my sausage and muffin to make a sandwich, which warmed them up enough to be super tasty.

A special treat was getting to go to the Deluxe Burger Bar. If you were good and ate your vegetables, you could get a malt. I was as horrified as my mother was when I found out Dairy Queens close for the winter in the north.

My sister M
She could make anything better. My parents each worked two jobs, so M usually had the care of me. (J taught me solitary games so she could read in her room while I played.) I wouldn't eat tuna fish, but she could make a *Magic* sandwich (nobody else could, even if it was the same sandwich) which had tuna fish in it, but it wasn't tuna fish.

She taught me all the songs she learned at summer camp. (She and my Godfamily went up to Camp Ondessonk nearly every summer.) She taught me to paint, especially the most important "it's not what you intended, but we can fix it" attitude. She let me read her Laura Ingalls Wilder books, even after I spilled milk on one, reading it for the umpteenth time.

She had knickknack shelves with little wooden sections, and something in each one: a tiny colored glass bottle with a cork, miniscule dice, Guatemalan luck dolls. She would take them down and let me look at them, and even play with the dice, as long as I put them back carefully.

When I didn't want to brush my teeth or go to the bathroom or take a bath, her reply was, "I'm gonna do it first!" and a dash down the hall. Naturally, I wanted to win more than I wanted to avoid the task at hand. Only after she went to college, got married, and had a son did I realize that when I think of an earthly "mommy," I think of her.

Oh, how I loved school. First grade was fun. There was a library *right there* in the building, but second grade had Mrs. Wilkerson, whom I dearly loved. Mrs. Bryant, from first grade, taught us little stories about the letters. I only remember that little "o" was so hungry, and beseechingly asked for a cookie as he said, "oh" for the "short" vowel sound.

Tara was in my class both years (then we moved). We had a play, and I was the lead mouse. Mrs. Wilkerson had called us each up to read to her in a corner while the others were doing quiet work. I had read a few lines, then said, "Oh, it's a mouse. I need to use my mouse voice." I wrote the story Pearl Squirrel for our unit on how stories are composed (beginning, three events, and conclusion) and was thoroughly embarrassed to win all but one award. (I was relieved when Tara won it. I wanted to share.)

I didn't like the social aspect of school as much during (3rd grade Catholic school, so I "wouldn't have to change schools in the middle of the year") and after (4-5, 6-8, 9-12) the move. I remember in third grade, we had "Drop Everything And Read" time (like I needed to set aside time for that?), and I was so completely engrossed in my book that I forgot to stop reading. When I "came to" *everyone* was staring at me, and the teacher was *right* in front of my desk, looking down. I honestly hadn't realized that the time was up. Third grade was somewhat fun, though. We got to do things at our own pace, since there were 9 children in the 3rd-4th-grade class. It seemed like we spent forever on Charlotte's Web: we had to pick four or five projects our of nine. I remember making a shadow box and writing a book report, but I'm sure I drew pictures for more than just that.

Even before I started school, I was learning. On Saturday mornings, my mother and I would do math. I loved those mornings. We would do equations. Recently, she sent me a sheet: "x + 3 = 5" in her handwriting, and a large "x = 2" in mine, drooping down the page. "God the Father + _______ + Holy Spirit = Trinity" and "Jesus" was the last entry on the page.

I loved school projects. I have no idea what for, but I remember taking Lego men and transforming them (slipcovers for their shields) into Masai tribesmen. I'm sure I have those slipcovers still with my Legos.

Legos. Lincoln logs. Erector set. Model H trains. Coloring books. Paint-with-water books. Activity books (the three-inch-thick, second-hand kind). The china doll who was mine but lived under the sofa in the living room because I didn't trust myself not to break her. My baby doll Chrissy who still has Strawberry Shortcake nail polish in her hair. Discovery toys, like Marbelous Mosaic, the giant marble thing which my mother enjoys/ed more than I, and the now-elusive spelling tile game. That game was so addictive, but all it was consisted of a base, paperboard cards with five pictures on the right and coded holes on the left, and coded plastic letter tiles. You had to match the letters to spell the words, and they would only fit if the bumps on the backs of the tiles fit into the holes on the card. "Adze" and "plane" on the tools card were new ones to me.

Before the move, we were close to inseparable. Before we started first grade, Tara's family moved into town. Her mother asked the school to suggest the name of someone to be friends with Tara, and they picked me (so my mother explained later). I have thanked God so many times for that. I would get into trouble for talking to and with Tara during class, but as soon as her name went on the board, I would behave. I didn't care how many checks I got, but I didn't want her to have any.

We would sit together at lunch and make the boys guess at her middle name. (Since her mother made it up, it wasn't likely.) It starts with an E. They would guess: "Elizabeth?" "No." *requisite giggle* "Emily?" "No." "Elizabeth?" "No." "Eleanor?" "No." "Elizabeth?" "No."

We were in the highest level reading group (robins or bluebirds or whatever), and our math group also got taken out in the hall when Tara's mother came. We used the gloriously fun Cuisenaire rods (which I just learned how to spell); we used the letters from our names and changed them into numbers and added them up to see who won (in speed and in the end value) and debated whether or not Tara could use her middle name since I didn't have one (my number was bigger anyhow, I think).

Tara had the best ideas. We had to make code names, secret alphabets, and secret languages. She taught me how to cut and fold what we called anagrams (or that's what I remember us calling them, anyhow: papers with three sections, the top one having flaps on the top and sides so that when it was folded up the flaps would tuck in and it would be its own envelope). When we were moving to the new house, my parents sent me to Tara's house for an entire week while they were cleaning (think flying roaches kind of cleaning). I was in pure heaven. That's the first time I didn't bite my nails. I was having too much fun. (Even though I did chip my tooth falling onto the monkey bars. I was with Tara. I could take anything in stride.)

After the move, I would ask for two of anything special (like a bracelet) so I could send one to Tara. We got to go on a tour of the Bluebell Creameries in Brenham. When they moved to Australia for six months, she sent postcards. When they came back, she gave me an dark opalescent marble. (It's in my special treasures still.) Whenever anyone was mean to me at school, it wasn't so bad, because I had my best friend who loved me, even if she wasn't there right then.

When we started sixth grade, we independently chose the flute, and in ninth Latin. She switched to Spanish after a year. As for the flute, she was playing the Flight of the Bumblebee the first summer, and I had been told not to try playing it until the school year so I wouldn't get any bad habits. She was better than I at everything, and I loved it.

I miss being little and so fiercely happy. If anything went wrong, I could almost always hide under my bed with a book.

Peterbird, Mikey, Elisabeth, Anthony, and Meg: with no strings attached, you are invited to share your "5 things I miss from my childhood." (Of course, if anyone else wants to, you're more than welcome.)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy birthday, Grandpa

Today we spent the afternoon and evening at Fr. Costin's house with the Guggs. It was glorious.

We started with the pool, since it was nice and sunny and the food wasn't ready yet. We played and swam, then sat in the (warm, not just a source of light!) sun. Then came the most beautiful lunch. (The most beautiful lunch comes with two desserts: cheesecake with apricot spread on top, and an ice-cream–sweet-bread–and–fruit sundae.) Between and after the desserts there was ping-pong.

My sweet husband forced me to go, and helped me get ready, even though I was feeling rather anti-social most of yesterday and this morning. I am constantly left in wonderment at how wonderful he is. He sounds like the stories my mother always tells about her father.

Grandpa was born on July 4, 1913. His mother always told him that the parades were for him, but when he went to school, his classmates told him (for the first time) that they weren't. My mother says that his mother loved him so much that she thought there should be parades for him.

May his memory be eternal.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Peterbird's Nameday

We had a wonderful time, having an open house on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
Lucas, Isa, Amelia, Dimitri, Samuel
They escape!
Samuel, Ioanna, Dimitri, Dn. Achilles, Isa: Many years!
Virgil Petrişor on his nameday
Saints Peter and Paul 2005

I had great fun going to the store the day before and getting all the jams, jellies, and preserves I could (and one honey) which were new or strange to me. To our mutual delight, Peterbird likes them: ginger preserves; damson plum jam; boysenberry seedless jam; rosemary and lavender honey; and pineapple, banana & passion fruit fruit spread. He also got a bath pillow, which, I think, is not as exciting because it is not as edible.

There were actually more people, but when the triplets and then the brothers came over (5 children age 5 and younger, and rambunctiously so), it was easy enough to forget the camera. Fortunately, I was able to take pictures (and a few videos) of Dn. Achilles' family who left campus today for St. Louis. (I guess to St. Nicholas there, since it's the only Greek Archdiocese one listed from their page.)