Monday, January 29, 2007

Looking Forward to Lent

I think it was last year when Fr. Seraphim, hearing someone deplore how long it would take until Pascha came around again, said, "How come nobody looks forward to Great Lent?"

Since then, I've been thinking about fasting off and on. Well, thinking, off and on, about fasting.

Today's thought was that I am, in fact, looking forward to Great Lent: I won't feel that I *have* to finish the ice cream. My eating will be simpler when meat and dairy are "not an option." I look forward to fewer trips to the grocery store. (Currently, we must go every week for a gallon of milk. Each.) For whatever reason, I remember* that I lose weight during fasting times.

*This may not actually be the case, but it's what I remember anyhow.

So I find myself looking forward to Great Lent: I get to prepare myself. I am giving myself the freedom to be good, to untie my "needs" for meat and dairy. I am challenging myself to accept this freedom graciously instead of being grouchy for lack of "yummy foods." I am allowing myself to be open to humility by being grateful for the foods I will be eating.

Thank God for the Church. I need her strength to even think about doing this. I need those fasting guidelines so I don't try too much and burn out. After re-reading the Orthodoxwiki entry on fasting (which I think I may have actually written), I get to look forward to focusing on prayer, almsgiving, and going to confession. I usually don't (like to) make the time for these at all, never mind that I do myself a favor by following through with them. When I come into the office on Monday, having gone to chapel all weekend makes me better able to face my co-workers in a Christian manner, despite my Alice tendencies. Dn. Virgil usually takes care of the tithing for our family (I help choose where it goes, he tells me how much and writes the checks), but maybe I can convince him that we can push a little beyond the 10% mark (even if it's just adding a dollar to the Sunday collection). Going to confession is something I dread, but I can push that under the self-discipline for which I am striving; currently I am going to the gym (again) and dieting (a little) to lose a little more weight.

Please pray for me so that my fasting diet doesn't include these words.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

You don't have to eat your hat

"Do you want dessert?"
"Well, you could have gingerbread pants."

—referring to his half-eaten gingerbread man

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bathroom redecoration (at long last)

Here are some photos (taken by my husband) of my husband's painting and stenciling job on our bathroom. This entry is dedicated to Lissa and the number e.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Vassi gave me the advice that I should prune my plants, and that if I cut the basil close to the root, and put the stalk in a glass of water, it would put out roots and I could replant the stalk. So today I pruned and now have a pretty centerpiece for our table from the trimmings, and have attempted two re-rootings of the basil to use up some more vases.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cleaning and Baklava

A little garden on our bedroom windowsill.

In about twenty minutes, Vassi will head over and start teaching me to make baklava. (This is part of the payment for the railing down the hill to the lower married student housing parking lot; Southeast Railing donated much of it, but the owner said he would like that one Greek pastry with the honey and nuts.)

Some preparations for baklava.

In preparation, we obviously needed to clean the kitchen ... rather drastically, since there will be at least two people working in there and there's almost no counter space. Also, about a week or two ago, we (okay, I) decided (it was necessary) to rearrange the living room. Following FlyLady's ideals, I decided it wouldn't be worth my time to rearrange the clutter. I went through (with Dn. Virgil's help) several boxes, pulling things out of drawers (where I'd thrown them for unannounced company, or when I was tired of looking at them). I got rid of 5 boxes' worth of unecessary papers.* We still have more to go (which were unearthed today), but it's wonderfully liberating, and now there's room.

*If you don't have answers to things like: "Why am I keeping two copies of Notre Dame commencement exercise booklets wherein there are three names of people I know?" then you are allowed to get rid of it. Even then, it was still hard. I'm *good* at keeping.

We turned Dn. Virgil's desk around, moved mine into the corner (previously storage) with the (so lovely!**) filing cabinet. The couch went where my desk went. The comfy chair and ottoman went where the couch was, opening up the icon corner.

** Yes, I'm a dork, but it was a great Christmas present, and I can have an "away" in which to put things!

Top left: Dn. Virgil's corner; top right: my corner; bottom right: couch; bottom left: our new "mail station"; center: comfy chair and framed Panagia icon sketch (by the teacher of last summer's iconography class).

Dn. Virgil has been fully on board, cleaning the kitchen and his corner looks amazing. He's taken out lots of trash (although I was out the door first, having followed (again) FlyLady's advice on getting dressed to lace-up shoes). He clarified the bookshelves in the living room, and taken loads of things downstairs to storage (ready for the move or to be sorted later after further consideration). Also this past week, he's prepared my first computer (Cicero) to be given away by moving all the files and miscellany onto his computer and checking the 3.5" disks (you know, in case I need old papers from classes I don't even remember). I'm not emotionally ready to give away my old computer, but I'm not using it, and someone else may need it, and I don't want to have to move it.

Also this morning, when Dn. Virgil was taking out a towel to shake out on the balcony, we saw deer (he saw six, and I got a picture of one on the camera and saw three at a time) moving through the woods.

My "shot" of a deer.
Later: The baklava has been layered and is in the fridge, cooling. All the cleaning and baking involved lots of standing, and I am thus exhaustifyied.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Pop-Tart, anyone?

Remember how I said that R had retired and was replaced by K? L has given her two weeks' notice. C, who had replaced D (the temp), is now training to be L's replacement. I feel like I'm playing Scrabble. That's all.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Solving Again

Well, I didn't blog yesterday, despite my good intentions. E was sick the entire week (after having vacationed the week previously); R is now retired, replaced by K; D, the temp, has gone, and is replaced by C. Since L took Thursday off, and doesn't work Fridays, that made me the senior office person, who somehow had to fill in on lots of things which aren't actually my job.* So I was putting out lots of fires on Friday: finishing owner-contractor paperwork for a job in Pennsylvania which is starting up, which involved wrangling scanner software (on L's slower-than-dirt computer, involving opening files at my computer, going to L's, going back to mine to close them so I could open them on L's ...) into doing what I wanted with the PDFs and then figuring out a way to email a 27MB file to someone who can't accept attachments larger than 4MB (there are sites for that), and then finding out I had something wrong on page 14, emailing just that page and finding I emailed the wrong version; setting up travel arrangements (for T and W it was easy - just the hotel; for J it was a month's worth of air [which I'd done] and car [which I'd been walked through but hadn't done before]; for D it was hotel [which I'd never looked at before and the people at the hotel didn't have the paperwork we had faxed to them so I was scurrying through E's files trying to find a missing page to the application]); my sister called and let me talk to little M who gabbled at me on the phone for a bit; the owner wanted lunch ordered, so I needed to walk C do that [find the menu with phone for the place next door, have her call, a fax machine answers twice, get money out of petty cash, have her walk over and place the order [while I cover the phones]...); have K go to lunch without telling me; have C announce that she's going to lunch (I have seniority, why don't I get dibs on when I go to lunch? or at least get asked...); when I get to lunch (around 2, although I've changed my 'usual' lunchtime to 1), I go out and hide in the car with blessed silence for an hour (also Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman—got it for V, but he was reading something else, so I started to re-read it), and come back to find that T and the owner had been looking for me; get to walk across the street to retrieve mail (no company name, and the correct address for us, not for across the street!?); and all this while I sit at my desk in the middle of the room, with all the guys in (at 4 they took a break to go into the conference room *right* next to my desk and drink beer [what can I say? it's a construction company]), so it's horrendously loud and forget about G-rated conversation—I'm just lucky that not all of it is on cell phones right next to my desk, pacing back and forth, making my speakers go all loud and crackly and swearing up, right, and middle. And no, I'm not about to tell the owner of the company to back off, sit down, and clean up his language.

*It would be nice, sometime, to have an actual idea of what my job is and what it is not, but unless I set those limits, I doubt that will happen with this company. Right now my job is to do what I'm told, and to keep doing those things which are my responsibility. Meh.

And I forgot saving the day for B of the railing company [yes, the railing is finally up and today we got what I think was our first compliment, now that the weather warrants a railing for that incline] who came by and needed his invoice thingy fixed, which of course I volunteered to do because I have no sense and thought my day was slowing down [cue manical, ironic laughter] and, well, he's a nice guy and I haven't gotten around to giving him the promised baklava. (Did I mention he donated quite a bit of the railing, nevermind all the good advice he gave which we ignored and he patiently regave when we ran into the problems he thought we'd run into?)


My new year's resolutions (why not?):
* Go to church every Sunday. (So far, so good. Well, you know. One at a time.)
Maintain correspondence. (E-mailing Miriam, calls with sister.)
* Blog weekly. (Aiming for Friday, barring another like this one, at which point I think I'll move to Australia.)
* Lose weight. (Just throwing the idea around. My actions, like tonight's heaping bowl of three flavors of ice cream with extra cookies thrown in, may not be helping. But the idea's there. So this will probably mean acceding to the husbandly "Let's go to the gym, shall we? Pretty please?")
* Be good to my husband. (See above.)


Also this week, I recovered much of Dn. Virgil's old wiki and put it on his new wiki.

I beat Dn. Virgil at Robo Rally*, my favorite board game, second only to Siedler. Which someone romantically gave me for Christmas after we decided to have a shared wishlist using google docs. I realized that trying to beat a computer programmer at a programming-based game was not necessarily a realistic goal. He beat me, badly, the first time. Well, badly for me. However, the second time he went for flag 4 without having touched flag 3 (he himself had placed the flags), so I had a large enough victory.


We tried going to the Dedham Choral whatsit on Wednesday, but have mostly decided not to go back. They were nice, and it was okay, but not quite what I was hoping for. (Although that's a bit unfair, since they could hardly have been expected to have Dan Stowe for the director.) Also, my mother had spoiled me by getting the "new Vivaldi" cd, which pretty much sours you for sight-reading music in a non-Stowe choral ensemble, I'd think. And the jewel case is missing (suspicions directed husband-ward) and we haven't seen his scarf (hand-knitted by me!) since that rehearsal.

We also were taken to dinner by Dn. V's co-worker at a lovely place on Friday night, and still have leftovers to finish up.


Prayers requested for:
* Mary Catherine
* Theodore
* David
* Joseph
* Mercedes
and their caretakers, especially Catherine and Carol.
It seems like my family's falling apart. Oh, well, I have a date tomorrow morning at which I'll address many of these grievances with Someone in High Places. (Can you tell I've been reading too much Terry Pratchett?) Cheers!

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Fall Choir Concert 2006

On December 7 we had our choir concert. Either the night before or at the warm-up practice just prior to the performance we changed the unofficial "HC/HC Chorale" to the "Deacon's Singers."

Program(me)s of the concert include quite a bit of background information and translations, and are available upon request. Mugur took a DVD of the concert itself, which is pretty nice except for the zooming into giant heads, and, of course, any footage of me.

A brief synopsis of our concert:
  • Iată, vin colindători! (arr. Tiberiu Brediceanu)
  • Contrapunto Bestiale Alla Mente (Adriano Banchieri)
  • L’Ultimo Dì de Maggio (Sebastian Festa)
  • Der Abend (Johannes Brahms)
  • Georgian Wedding Hymn (Psalm 44:8-10)
  • Heavenly Light (Alexander Kopylov, arr. Peter J. Wilhousky, English text by Alice Mattullath)
  • Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree (Elizabeth Poston )
  • Lullay My Liking (Gustav Holst)
  • Pastime with Good Company (King Henry VIII of England)
  • My Lord, What a Mornin’! (Negro Spiritual, arr. 1924 Henry Thacker Burleigh)
Diana Eynon provided accompaniment for Der Abend, and when she was attending rehearsals, we stole her as an alto and as a conductor. Mari conducted the rest of the pieces, and is purely responsible for my smiling the entire way through the concert. (Her idea of making sure people's eyes are watching her conduct is to make faces.)

I had my first choral-related vocal solo (that is, first vocal solo aside from recitals from voice lessons), which was both exciting and terrifying, especially in consideration of the fact that I never managed to practice the solo outside of rehearsals.

It went well enough that we were invited to attend the campus Christmas party the next evening and perform some of our Christmas-y selections there. While we were up, it was decided that we would lead the general carolling. Which was unfair. We had a giant group of screaming children right in front of us, only to be appeased if we started singing the song they wanted (Rudolph and, ironically, Silent Night are all I remember). Also, since Vickie couldn't make it for this encore performance, Virgil sung her solo and had his first solo.


Christmas 2006

This year, Christmas was on a Monday, leading for a pleasant weekend.

On Friday, I took the day off. I went to church in the morning for the Christmas Hours. Afterwards, I stayed for confession with Fr. Philip. Then I went home for Virgil and we went west to get passport photos of me taken (for my passport renewal application), have the car inspected, and grocery shopping. Christmas grocery shopping.

On Saturday, we had baking. I was in a snippy mood and, I think, pretty much stayed in bed reading all day. Dn. Virgil slaved away in the kitchen for about eight hours. I did come out of my cave to help in a plumbing emergency* and to stir the kolache mixture. We ended up with eleven loaves of cozonac (pl. "cozonaci" sounds like "cozonach" with a "ch" like in "cheese") and some kolaches.

*We've decided not to use the garbage disposal for eggshells. At least, not when using a recipe which calls for 36 eggs. Never mind additional eggs for the kolaches.

On Sunday after we got home from church in Arlington, we had cooking. We made a couple of kinds of sausage which I can't pronounce but I can definitely eat, and schnitzel (or rather, şniţel, since this kind is Romanian). My job was keeping the counters clean, providing lots of plates (unbeaten, unbattered, uncooked, and uneaten—all separated), and beating the heck out of lots of chicken. Yep. You need heckless chicken for şniţel.

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