Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Because I will soon turn off the computer and continue to be productive, but I'm not ready to do so just yet.

On Friday I was in a fender-bender; nobody was hurt, thanks for asking, but please keep praying for me, especially against self-inflicted injury like papercuts. This is My First Accident™ (not even a witness before) in ten years of driving. I love the library system, but I really hate Boston. Anyhow. So we figured out what to do with the insurance company, and I got the (two-month-old maybe) car appraised today ($700+ for a leetle (handspan) dent in the bumper; cf. statement about Boston, even though the insurance will take care of it). And I put fuel in the car. And I called the repair shop and set up plans to take it in next Monday. And I got Peterbird his jams, jellies, preserves, and honey (black cherry, raspberry, mixed fruit, fig; honey from India) from Ocean State Job Lot which is like Big Lots, but they have lots more weird stuff. And I ran all these errands on my lunch break, and failed to get lost. Also, there were leftover pancakes for lunch. Rock!*

*Not a reflection on the texture of the pancakes.

Then, in the evening, we went to the library and to festal choir rehearsal; Peterbird went to the gym and played basketball while I stayed in the chapel for women's choir rehearsal and then joined him in the gym except for the part at the beginning when I watched a cat for about five minutes. And at the gym I did a full half-hour (non-stop) of the elliptical (am I weird for going backwards half the time?) on level 2 (for the first time). And then, because I was watching The Amazing Race which is an hour-long show, I went to the bicycle thing and kept going.

And then we came home and I entered all the chapel schedule things for March on my online calendar and Virgil put up his class notes and I blogged about the retreat (only 23 more pages to go, wot) and then I will do the dishes and then I will perform ablutions and lavations (my mother told me not to tell the internet that I'm taking a shower, like it's a big secret after I go to the gym), and then COLLAPSE INTO SLEEP right after I read some more. The end of Tuesday. Amen.

Future Presvyteres Retreat, Notes, Part 5

Because my husband pointed out last night that I hadn't posted in a week, I will post another page's worth of notes.

Pres. Katerina pointed us to the letter to the Hebrews, chapter twelve, as a passage which gives hope in her day to day living. She said that (1) conversations without covetousness and (2) gratitude for all things were the result of continual repentance.

Then she read one of those internet forwards about "being a mother." Ha. Found it, or at least one like it. It was funny. Then she changed it slightly so it would fit for presbyteres. "Somebody said 'good' mothers never raise their voices ...somebody never came out the back door just in time to see her child hit a golf ball through the neighbor's kitchen window." became "Somebody said 'good' presbyteres never raise their voices ...somebody never came out of coffee hour just in time to see three teenaged boys launch a frisbee which was headed for an elderly lady." I wish I could remember more, but my hand couldn't keep up. Do you have any ideas?

Pres. Katerina finished her talk (first of the four sections) with this advice and reminder: trust that you will learn, pray, and hope. "Are you going to struggle? Yes, but you're going to struggle anyway."

The next speakers were Fr. Gerasimos Makris and Pres. Theodora Paleologos. I wish I had a copy of the videotape; they had so many pithy remarks, dense in their wisdom, that I didn't feel I got even half of them down on paper. More later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I think I may have found a good comparison for Byzantine chant: Dungeons and Dragons.

Occasionally, there are times when Anthony/my husband/another chanter has a realization: "Ohhh. Because of the [whatever notation], the zo is here." This reminded me this evening of, "But I have a [whatever weapon] which adds plus five to my attack." Lots of arbitrary rules and little things that you have to remember.

Also, Fr. Seraphim reminds me of Tham*. I bet Fr. Seraphim would make a good DM.

*Tim. But he went to London, and there's a river there, evidently named after him. And this way I can make sure I remember to which Tim I am referring. Except it's also fun to say "Tham."

"Black tea is like a lizard, in that it is black, and it is tea.
A lizard is like Black Tea in that it is scaly, and has a tail."
- Electic** Broccoli, The Lizard Song
(Quoted from Tim's away message)

**Electic? Electric? Eclectic? I can't find another reference anywhere on the internet. Stupid really-cool third-hand quotations.

Okay, bye.

Future Presvyteres Retreat, Notes, Part 4

Pres. Katerina, expanding on the importance of renewing the spirit for yourself and your family, advised:
  • incense the home—when your husband or children come home, they will feel your love as soon as they come inside
  • stay close to your loved ones
  • if you want a friend in the parish, ask the Lord—and wait
  • enjoy your solitude in the Lord and remember your guardian angels
She urged us to "get real familiar with the Jesus prayer. ... You can pray unceasingly. ... It's really important." Pray with you feel the need for protection: when you feel weak, or tempted, or that you might judge someone.

She said that the 51st Psalm helps her stay repenting, and that it's good to take responsibility for our mistakes. She pointed out that the example a presbytera needs to provide is not an example of goodness—Jesus and the Theotokos provide that—the example of a presbytera's life is of hope: we will always make mistakes but we still hope in the Lord.

More on the metaphysical morrow.

P.S. I walked into the apartment yesterday after the usual long slog at work, and was greeted with the lovely smell of freshly baked brownies (lenten) set out to cool by my loving husband. This (today) reminded me about incensing the home. It really did feel like I was smelling his love for me, covering all the apartment with his thoughtfulness. I hope I remember to return the favor many times over. (Also, that would mean lots of brownies. Yum!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Last night we went to the festal choir rehearsal and went over some things for lent, including the akathist hymn. I knew that when you have two "apostrophoi" followed by an "elaphron"—I'm looking these up so I can say something clearer than "the little thingy" and "the upside-down bowl"—the length of the two apostrophoi are cut in half. So I learned two things: the first note of the three doesn't have to be an apostrophos, and if there is a syllable under the second note (the apostrophos just before the elaphron), it's a whole new ball-game: the three notes are each one beat in length, but the elaphron now means two steps down instead of the usual one. (The apostrophos and the elaphron are each ways of saying "go one step down the scale.")

Also, I learned that if I stand at a particular angle to the music, it's difficult to see due to my contacts. But my brain keeps working, so I find that I have different words than everyone else is reading. In the akathist, we were faced with a line: "Rejoice, O murex* who dyed in your own virgin blood the divine purple robe worn by the King of angelic hosts." Perfectly beautiful line when it's written. And read correctly. Since "murex" was furthest away from me, and it's not a word I come across often, and the first syllable was "mu-" instead of the "myu-" I had been expecting, my brain supplied "-rdress." That didn't seem to fit with the akathist hymn. Fortunately, we stopped and went over "murex"* and how to pronounce it. Then came "dyed in your own virgin blood" which almost made me cry I was laughing so hard. If you're listening (without the words), you can't see the 'y' in "dyed" so it sounds like a gothic tragedy ending, or Romeo and Juliet.

*It's the shellfish thing which makes the purple dye. I think they're extinct now, but I had a book when I was little about a boy and a girl who lived in Tyre and went hunting for murex ... and whatever the thing was called that gave off the red dye whose name I can't remember... gah. The darn book is "library use only" at the public library, so I can't look up the red dye thing.

I learned two new words, which was exciting. I mean there are new words I don't know, but usually on "word-of-the-day" lists (occasionally), or in the dictionary, but not usually in context. The second was "perspicuously" (which means "clearly," but is a particularly distinguished sounding word, no?). The first one, though, is derived from Middle English as opposed to Latin (which makes it more exotic for this Latin major): yeaned. *Triumphant pause* As in, "Rejoice, the ewe that yeaned the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of all the world." Fr. Seraphim explained that it means "to give birth," and is used about sheep, and when I went home and looked it up (*yeaned* I mean, how cool a word is that?), I found that it can apply to either sheep or goats.

In related news, I successfully used "tontine" in conversation with my husband. I don't remember the context, but it was a pun having something to do with taunting. *snif* And neither he nor I can remember how it went. And it was so nice.


P.S. After husband-man read my blog, we had the following conversation:
Him: I think the elaphron is, by default, two notes down and only in the particular combination with the apostrophos does it become one step down.
Me: THIS IS THE FIRST I'VE HEARD OF IT. I totally want to beat up Byzantine notation.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Future Presvyteres Retreat, Notes, Part 3

"Tomorrow" evidently means, "whenever I get around to it." Meh. No complaints that I know of anyhow, just that little voice, "but you said."

So. Presbytera Katerina.

Things important to being a presbytera:
  • hope:
    • in the Resurrection
    • in things to come
    • in Jesus
  • pray a lot
  • confess sins
  • repent, repent, repent*
*in my short-hand, "repent3"
Then things will fall in order.

Sounds awfully like the things that every Christian is supposed to do. She asked us to think of team sports. Do all the team members have to run laps? (Yes. Do all the team members have to practice free throws? (Yes.) Do all the team members have to think about what the other teammates are doing? (Yes.) Do all the team members have to take responsibility for their actions? (Yes.) Do all the team members get to play center or quarterback or a starting position in every game? No. That's the difference. "The presbytera is always in the game. Usually." (Your kids might get sick or something.) But the athlete who is always in the game has to practice that much more.

She paused. "It's not so hard. It's harder when we don't practice, when we don't pray." Sometimes all we can do is light a candelia, which is a simple reflection of the Light of Christ in the world; talk to the saints; or make the sign of the cross before we eat, before we open the door, before we start the car, before we answer the telephone.

All of a sudden this reminds me of taking voice lessons, and how just breathing properly would take the entire body. Every single part had to be paid attention to: knees bent, ankles relaxed. Are your thighs relaxed? You can't sing properly, or breathe properly, unless you are preparing your entire body for the effort, readying it to be called upon to perform.

More ... um ... later. (Intended, as always, for "tomorrow," but we'll see.)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Future Presvyteres Retreat, Notes, Part 2

Pres. Katerina talked about how people say what a presbytera should do: be active, love the Lord, love her husband, love the parish, pray, love children, repent, be humble, trust God, trust the saints, and trust the angels; she talked about how people say what a presbytera shouldn't do: answer for her husband, or actively discourage others from marrying a future priest. She commented that it's hard to pinpoint what makes up a good presbytera, and cautions that when she sees a presbytera doing something "bad," she doesn't notice.

So, basically, it's hard to talk about what a presbytera does or who she is without thinking about good things or bad things, so we needed another way. Pres. Katerina brought up the WWJD bracelets: "What Would Jesus Do?" Then she gave us another acronym: WWMSCD.

We couldn't guess it either, so she told us: "What Would Mrs. Santa Claus Do?" We laughed, because that was pretty much (in my opinion, at least) the idea of a "perfect" presbytera. We came up with a list of things that Mrs. Santa Claus would do, and Pres. Katerina expanded:
  • She bakes; she nourishes Santa Claus.
  • When Santa works late, she greets him with a smile when he comes home.
  • She loves the elves.
  • She would like to take all the names from the naughty list and put them on the nice list, cut them some slack.
In short, being a presbytera isn't about being "good" and avoiding being "bad." Pres. Katerina wants us to remember two things every day:
  • The kingdom of God is at hand.
  • Trust in God.
More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Future Presvyteres Retreat, Notes, Part 1

The first speaker at the retreat was Pres. Katerina Patitsas, Vassi's sister. Her talk was entitled: "'Being' as in Presvytera" including three topics:
  • Not-so-rulish Role
  • Purpose
  • Profile
She introduced us to several of her "special friends." She had brought in icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and the angels, and then showed us more photographs and icons of nuns, abbesses, and saints. Someone asked her to spell "Amphilochios" and someone called out from the back, "And can you use that in a sentence?"

So Pres. Katerina approached the idea of trying to define "this 'presbyetera' person."
  • "There's something about who we are that's a little ahrd to touch."
  • "You're not the only ones who are wondering what this is." —meaning that the presbyteres themselves don't have all the answers.
She mentioned St. Paul's letter to Timothy (told us to look it up and read it for ourselves, but I haven't done so yet), where St. Paul tells Timothy how to treat the women in the community: the older women, treat as mothers; the younger women, as sisters. Pres. Katerina said that this might be applied as advice on how to treat presbyteres. (She repeatedly said "Maybe!" indicating that there really isn't a definite or easy answer.)

She mentioned that there aren't rules for being a presbytera, unlike the rules for monasticism:
  • "There's no training.
  • "There's no typikon.
  • If there are laws in the canon, I haven't heard about it... and no one's fired me yet!"
She did say, however, that our calling to be presbyteres is derived from our husband's call to serve as a priest.

More tomorrow.