Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's Official:

"Grumpy" really is the new baby's nickname. What's worse, it suits him. I did try to defend him, till both his parents said, "Wait till he wakes up and watch him frown." Yeah, he looks like one grumpy old baby. ;-)

In other news, our son was home for Christmas. This is not as radical as if he were living in, say, Iraq, but it was nice for us. We spent last year at his apartment in PA, and it was such a bleak Christmas, compared to this year's, spent in our own home, where he grew up. And spending Christmas in the home where he grew up, he came to a decision: He's definitely going to look for work closer to home.

I should note that we would be happier about his living in PA if he were happy about it, but since his only reason for moving there was to be closer to his girlfriend -- who promptly dumped him -- and the only reason he stayed there was because he found his dream job -- and now he's gone as far as he can on this particular railroad -- well, naturally you want to see your kid happy in life, and at the moment, he isn't. All his friends and his family are here. The job is the only thing he has there. So yes, we would like him to move closer to home so that he has a life outside of work. I will not jinx his chances by commenting on the one prospect he has, but yes, he has a prospect. (Holding my breath waiting for it to come through....)

With one foot in both Orthodox worlds -- Old Calendar and New Calendar -- I had hoped to make it to the most local Old-Calendar parish, 50 miles away, for "Russian Christmas," as we used to call it when I was growing up. Yesterday our daughter informed us that January 7th will probably be "Grumpy's" christening day. The things we give up for our families....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Year You Turned 18 Music Meme

Cribbed from Mimi's site: Go to and select the year you turned 18. Paste the list of the top 75 songs. (I could only find 40.) Bold the ones you liked; strike the ones you disliked; and italicize the ones you know but don’t exactly like or dislike. The ones you don’t know will stay plain text.

1964 Greatest Hits (am I dating myself, or what?!)

1. Twist and Shout - Beatles
2. Under The Boardwalk - The Drifters
3. I Saw Her Standing There - Beatles
4. Dancing In The Street - Martha and the Vandellas
5. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - Righteous Brothers
6. I Get Around - Beach Boys
7. I Want To Hold Your Hand - Beatles
8. Where Did Our Love Go - Supremes
9. My Guy - Mary Wells1
10. Chapel Of Love - Dixie Cups
11. L.O.V.E. - Nat "King" Cole
12. (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet - Reflections
13. Fun, Fun, Fun - Beach Boys
14. Dawn (Go Away) - Four Seasons
15. Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann
16. I'm Into Something Good - Herman's Hermits
17. Oh, Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
18. Baby Love - Supremes
19. Time Is On My Side - Rolling Stones
20. She Loves You - Beatles
21. No Particular Place To Go - Chuck Berry
22. California Sun - Rivieras
23. You Really Got Me - the Kinks
24. The Way You Do The Things You Do - Temptations
25. Come See About Me - the Supremes
26. G.T.O. - Ronny & the Daytonas
27. You Don't Own Me - Leslie Gore
28. Last Kiss - J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers
29. Rag Doll - Four Seasons
30. Baby I Need Your Loving - Four Tops
31. Memphis - Johnny Rivers
32. The Girl From Ipanema - Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto
33. Viva Las Vegas - Elvis Presley
34. Bits and Pieces - Dave Clark Five
35. Harlem Shuffle - Bob & Earl
36. Everybody Loves Somebody - Dean Martin
37. You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry
38. The House Of The Rising Sun - the Animals
39. All My Loving - the Beatles
40. The Leader Of The Pack - Shangri-las

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Knit Two, Purl -- Well, One, Actually

While ds was home for Thanksgiving, we asked him for his Christmas list. Now, this is the same kid whose dearest wish, at age two, was "butter bears" -- a particular kind of cookie, and that was all he wanted for Christmas! He's always been that kind of minimalist. And this year is no exception. What he wants, more than anything, is a pair of hand-knit socks.

It has been years since I made socks. I haven't forgotten how, but the thing about socks is, once you make one, you have to make another one. Two isn't optional. So sock-knitting gets really old, really fast, and I've been buying socks for at least 15 years. (I do buy good-quality socks.) But what mom can resist the heartfelt plea of her offspring, especially one whose usual Christmas list consists of, "I have everything I want"? I got out the needles, and went shopping for Ragg wool, a particularly thick and warm wool that makes wonderful socks.

Obviously, I had left it too late in the season, and all that was left was a sock wool, dress-weight, made of half wool and half -- are you ready for this? -- bamboo. How do you make yarn out of a tree?!?!?! And I cast on 84 stitches, having measured the circumference of the leg in question (12") and the length from heel to the ball of the foot (8" -- the ball of the foot is where you start the toe decrease).

One of the really real down sides of hand-knit socks, and Ragg socks in particular, is that you have to rib the whole dratted leg. With dress socks, you can liven it up a bit, and I have three books of the most wonderful German socks with clocks and cables and little windowpane-style decorations to make the heart beat faster (and the work more interesting); but Ragg socks are work socks, and made with marled wool, so there's only one option: ribbing. Ribbing does have the advantage of elasticizing the garment, particularly desirable in socks, but the question is, what kind of ribbing is most elastic?

Elizabeth Zimmermann, the late knitting guru, thought that the ultimate in elasticity was knit 2, purl 2. Her daughter, Meg Swansen, maintained that knit 1 purl 1 was more elastic, and that was also my experience, till I once had to cast on an odd number of stitches and found that the only way to rib it effectively was -- knit 2, purl 1. Now, that is elastic. The single purl stitch pulls the two knitted stitches in so tightly that you wouldn't know there was a stitch in between them, yet the garment itself is not tight; it has a wonderful give. These days, I do all my ribbing in knit 2, purl 1; the other thing I like about it is its trinitarian aspect. When even your clothes have the Trinity as their foundation, the rest of you is more inclined that way, too.

So! 84 stitches, cast onto four double-pointed needles of 21 stitches each, ribbed in knit 2, purl 1. (You knit with a fifth needle -- this is German-style knitting, and that fifth needle gives you a truly circular shape, as opposed to the English/American knitting off a triangle of three needles with a fourth.) I spent an entire week trying to make that dratted bamboo yarn work, before putting it down and telling myself, "I'll get to it Eventually." My jaw would clench every time I picked it up to knit.

Chris telephoned last night, and I had to tell him that he probably wasn't going to get his socks in time for Christmas. The disappointment in his voice was so painful that after I hung up, I decided I had to try again. Then it dawned on me: The whole trouble was that bamboo yarn. I don't know why, but it just doesn't feel right in my fingers. So I ripped out the whole inch I'd succeeded in gritting my way through, scavenged in my wool box for some other sock yarn, and had my second brain wave: Put the two together. Came back out, combined the stupid bamboo yarn with some honest sheep's-wool yarn, and cast the 84 stitches back on.

I already have an inch and a half. He probably still won't get his socks in time for Christmas, but at that rate, there's at least a possibility he'll take them home with him when he goes back again after spending his Christmas break at home. Feels good!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Meme

Cribbed from Mimi's blog:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? It'd be eggnog, if we weren't fasting and all the store eggnog (which is pasteurized) is gone by Christmas Day.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Oh, they get wrapped, of course!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? We've had both. Currently it's colored lights. The first time I saw white lights was in Germany in 1968, and I thought they were so boring. Now I really like them.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No.

5. When do you put your decorations up? The day before St. Nicholas, December 5 -- that way, he knows ours is a Christmas house and he can visit it. ;-) We leave them up till "Russian Christmas," as we used to call January 7 in New York.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Babka. You can have it both Christmas and Easter.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: Probably the year I turned 15, my first ever Midnight Mass, and my first ever glass of wine. I was sitting on the sofa admiring the Christmas tree through a mildly alcoholic haze when my mother gasped and said, "Oh, I forgot all about your birthday!" And I said, "Oh! Yeah! I did too!" (It's December 24.)

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? My mother told me on my 7th birthday. She said she was afraid I'd hear about it at school.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Didn't used to as a kid, but now we do.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With a variety of Christmas ornaments, colored lights, and "garlic" (garland). I like the white garland best, because if you get just the right kind, it really looks like snow.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Both, actually. I love the way it looks on the trees, especially the wet, "floompy" snow. But I hate shovelling it!

12. Can you ice skate? No, and I wish I could!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Probably my piano. It's as old as my son.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? The birth of our Lord, of course.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? German stollen! Buttery, nutty, smothered in powdered sugar -- sheer heaven.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? My stepfather is Polish, and on Christmas Eve, we all break a piece of oplatki, a thin wafer like a Catholic Communion wafer. Each person gets a piece, and then you share it with everyone around the table and wish each other a blessed Christmas. You never eat your own oplatek, but it's supposed to be gone by the time you leave the house.

17. What tops your tree? An angel, who invariable lurches to one side or the other. We've decided she's on a permanent bender.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving, actually. I can never wait to see people's faces as they open their gifts.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Nothing that anyone would recognize who wasn't Orthodox! It's "Today the Virgin gives birth in a cave." There's something about "He Whom the heavens cannot contain is contained in a womb" that blows my mind every year. But if I have to give a more commonly known Christmas carol, it'd be "Carol of the Bells," hands down.

20. Candy canes: We never have them, but I like the idea of them.

21. Favorite Christmas movie? "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol" -- Alastair Sim version only -- are tied for first place.

22. What do you leave for Santa? We've never done that. As a kid, I'd never heard of it.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I met my new grandson today. He was born on Monday of this week, and one of the many, many things I'm thankful for is that he didn't choose the middle of Thanksgiving dinner to make his entrance. I'm told, by his father, that my daughter went into labor at 1:30 a.m. Monday morning, and gave birth in the back of an ambulance at 2:00 a.m, right outside Westbrook High School, on the way to the hospital in Portland (ME). "So what goes on his birth certificate?" I asked. "Westbrook, or 'the back of Fire and Rescue Ambulance #1'?" (Portland -- the hospital of record.)

He is a pretty placid kid, in that at four days old, he does nothing but sleep and eat. The only time he makes his discomfort known is when they are changing him -- apparently, he hates to be cold, and face it, a wet diaper is pretty cold, till you get a nice dry one on (especially in Maine in November). However, when he is awake, he seems to do a lot of frowning and making little squeaks and grunts that indicate he's trying to decide whether to make a Statement about current conditions.

My daughter blogs about both writing (her profession) and family life. Her oldest son has been dubbed "Hamlet," for reasons of privacy, and also, as she said, because "his tantrums are positively Shakespearean." We've recently been trying to decide on names for Son #2. Banquo? MacDuff? Jaques, from "As You Like It"? Today, the baby's father grinned and said, "I think we should just call him Grumpy." I have a horrible feeling that it will stick.

Welcome to your weird family, Grumpy! ;-)

One. Word.

Cribbed from Philippa:

One word, and only one word, so here goes!

Yourself: musical
Your partner: loyal
Your hair: red(dish)
Your Mother: Catholic
Your Father: dead
Your Favorite Item: wool
Your dream last night: none
Your Favorite Drink: cawfy! (That's "coffee" in Brooklynese)
Your Dream Car: Mini
Your Dream Home: cottage
The Room You Are In: office
Your Ex: none
Your fear: heights
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? here
Who you hung out with last night: family :D
What You're Not: organized
Muffins: corn
One of Your Wish List Items: floorstand
Time: whazzat?
The Last Thing You Did: shopped
What You Are Wearing: conservative
Your favorite weather: rain
Your Favorite Book: Horologion
Last thing you ate: muffin
Your Life: full
Your mood: peaceful
Your Best Friends: phenomenal!
What are you thinking about right now: husband
Your car: blue
What are you doing at the moment: blogging
Your summer: yecch!
Relationship status: married
What is on your tv: music
What is the weather like: cold
When is the last time you laughed: yesterday

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


That's what dear old's condition is called.

I went to the rehab center to see him, and on my way to his room stopped at the nurses' station to talk to someone. Yesterday when I was there, one of the nurses had asked me if he had ever seemed "confused" to us while he lived with us, and I said, "Not that I can recall." Today, of course, I said, "We had evidence of that last night." She nodded and said, "Good, I'm glad it wasn't just me," and went on to explain that dear old has had Jekyll-and-Hyde episodes: "One minute he's a very sweet old man, the next he's confused, and a little while later he's downright nasty." Yep!

"Ask him," she said, "if he remembers calling you last night. I bet he doesn't." And sure enough, he didn't! Apparently very old people get this thing called "sundowning," where they get phenomenally confused about everything in life once the sun goes down; and while the sun is up, they are their normal, rational selves. I'd heard of this, but hadn't realized it was kicking in with dear old.

Now I'm glad I kept my patience, and kept my visit with him friendly. Glory to God for granting me that patience, and the visit with the nurse beforehand; but these doctors, who keep insisting that living into your nineties is a good thing....!!!!!

When I got home, I called dh at work and told him the nurse said not to bother visiting his father, because dear old won't remember it. Dh was shocked, to say the least, but yeah, that's consistent with sundowning, too. Oh, and it's exacerbated by alcohol -- the smile on her face when I told her about the phone call, and his "tippling" habits (I wish it were only tippling!) was priceless. I feel bad for dh, but at least we know dear old really isn't playing with a full deck.

Brought Up on Charges

At least, that's what Dear Old Dad is threatening to do to dh and me. Why? Because his son didn't visit him last night.

The day after my last post, we went to church. Now, dear old, being 94, doesn't see the need to go to church anymore, since he went for the first 90 years of his life (doesn't seem to have done much good), so he was planning to stay home. Well, since he can't stay home by himself, we got someone in from a local organization to stay with him. He was NOT happy. Didn't see why he couldn't stay by himself. (Possibly because on Saturday evening, he got panicky when dh was working in the cellar and I was working in the office, and he thought we had left him alone???)

So the next day, after we get back from church, dear old decides to take himself for a walk. The conversation went like this: "I WANNA GO FOR A WALK!" "OK, let me get the cars washed and I'll take you." "I WANNA GO BY MYSELF!" "OK, but just stay in the driveway." So dh helps dear old down the steps -- he can't get down steps by himself -- comes back into the house to get a pail of water to wash the cars, and by the time he's back outside, dear old is halfway down the block.

Well, you know the rest. He turned to come back, and on his way back, fell. It was plain he couldn't move his left leg, so we called the EMTs, and they came and assessed him. He about had them convinced it was just sciatica when they asked him if he could stand ono the leg, and he said No; so they took him to the emergency room, where, you guessed it, an x-ray showed he had broken a hip.

He spent all last week in the hospital, and dh worked from home half days so he could concentrate on getting dear old's finances in order, in case we needed to pay for any of his care (also so that we could afford assisted living for him!). The last couple of days, dear old was getting quite cantankerous about being there; he'd had enough, and wanted to come home. Instead, he went to a rehab facility on Sunday.

We visited him there both Sunday and Monday, but yesterday dh went back to work in Boston, and I went to the rehab facility by myself to see the social worker in charge of dear old's case -- there were a couple of things I thought she should know about his condition, among them the fact that we were considering assisted living once he's out of rehab. When she heard what dh's ghastly hours were, she said he shouldn't bother coming to visit his father on the days when he works in Boston, since dear old has plenty of company and is quite wiped out by his physical therapy. (We could see that!)

So last night, at 9:00 p.m., we're getting ready for bed and the phone rings. It's dear old, threatening to swear out an arrest warrant on us for "abandonment." Let's see, dh gets home at 7:00 p.m., still has to have his dinner and wind down from the day, but is that a good enough reason to just stay home and RELAX?!?!?! Evidently not! I plan to take myself off to the rehab center today, tell one of the nurses, or maybe the social worker, about this latest development, and see if they will support my telling off dear old, in no uncertain terms.

It feels lousy to do such a thing. He's old. He's alone. We're his only family, besides his grandkids. ("And whose fault's that?" whispers my baser self.) But I'm sorry -- when you live with other people, consideration all around is pretty basic, even at 94.

(An amusing aside: At one point, a Catholic priest came to visit dear old in the hospital. He supported dear old's decision not to attend Mass anymore. This past Sunday, meanwhile, my Orthodox priest gave a sermon: "Whether you're 16 or 86 -- or 96 -- you still have to struggle. The spiritual struggle is part of our salvation." Right now, I'm struggling not to wring dear old's neck!)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

When I'm 94

The Beatles had a great tune called, "When I'm 64," to which I can't remember all the lyrics, mostly because the year it came out, I was occupied with wedding preparations, and 64 seemed like the back side of the moon. Now that it's imminent, well....

Dear old Dad has been with us for two weeks now, and this morning was about typical: DH is making coffee and we're chatting quietly when suddenly we hear a roar: "I NEED A SHOWER!" This is supposed to be the signal for DH to drop everything and going rushing in to help his father, not the easiest thing in the world when you are making brewed coffee and in the middle of counting out the appropriate number of scoops. "JUST A MINUTE," yells back DH. (We have to yell because dear old is deaf, and won't wear a hearing aid.) "HELP ME WITH THE SHOWER!" "IN A MINUTE!" Coffee counted out, DH runs to the bathroom to help dear old into the shower, explain to him -- yet again -- how to turn on the hot and cold water, and where the grab bar is.

Then breakfast. He shuffles out, clean and spruce, sits down, and starts worrying about mail that came for him yesterday. Now, at the same time, he also wants his juice, his oatmeal, his bread and peanut butter, and his coffee, in that order -- but he wants us to see to his bills, too. Right now. The Boss (me) steps in: "JIM IS MAKING BREAKFAST. WE WILL WORRY ABOUT BILLS AFTER BREAKFAST." "OK," he mutters, and subsides.

We are hoping to take him with us later today while we shop for a new sofa. My brother has offered to take our old sofa for his son, newly graduated from college and in need of "real" furniture, and we had decided, while I was convalescing, to get a new sofa; dear old's arrival put a crimp in those plans, but since my brother is coming to collect our sofa on Thursday or Friday, we kind of need something to put in its place. So shopping with dear old in tow is something of a necessity, since we both need to be comfortable with this thing.

We are also hoping to hold off putting dear old into assisted living till sometime after Christmas. It doesn't seem fair to move him up here and toss him into a home just before the holidays. But if we ever doubted it before, today's episode has made it crystal clear that he really needs assisted living; I don't have the physical strength to deal with his frailties, and DH can't be home all the time.

And meanwhile, we are hoping that we can survive dear old's arrival into our household. He really is as demanding as a three-year-old, and as needy as a three-year-old, but without the resources to entertain himself for any length of time. Yesterday he was complaining to DH that he needs to get out more often. (He was upset that I wouldn't take him grocery shopping with me.) But when they went for a walk, 2/10 of a mile down to the post office, DH found that he had to hold the old man up on the way back. I can picture me struggling with groceries, a cart, and holding up at 94-year-old grown man who's taller than me.

Anyway, assuming we survive this Presence in our household -- not all caregivers do -- we have also begun to take steps towards getting long-term care insurance. I hope never to need it; but if I do, I don't want to do this to my children. Neither, bless him, does DH.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Things I've Done...

...are in bold face type. Swiped this from Philippa. I hate swiping stuff, but when it's this good, how can I resist?

What have you done? Or not, as the case may be?
01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (if you count the gondola car to the top of the Zugspitze....)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula.
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you’ and meant it!
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s nappy
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Drunk champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse.
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Scored a winning goal
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Visited all 5 continents
40. Taken care of someone who was drunk
41. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
42. Watched wild whales
43. Stolen a sign
44. Backpacked 4
5. Taken a road-trip
46. Gone rock climbing
48. Midnight walk on the beach
49. Gone sky diving
50. Taken a train through Europe
51. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
52. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table, and had a meal with them
53. Milked a cow
54. Alphabetized your CDs
55. Sung karaoke
56. Lounged around in bed all day
57. Gone scuba diving
58. Kissed in the rain
59. Gone to a drive-in theatre
60. Started a business
61. Taken a martial arts class
62. Been in a movie (not to my knowledge, but having worked in NYC, it's possible I was in one a hundred years ago without knowing it....)
63. Crashed a party
64. Gone without food for 5 days
65. Gotten a tattoo
66. Got flowers for no reason
67. Performed on stage
68. Been to Las Vegas
69. Recorded music
70. Eaten shark
71. Buried one/both of your parents.
72. Been on a cruise ship
73. Spoken more than one language fluently
74. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
75. Walked a famous bridge
76. Had plastic surgery
77. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
78. Wrote articles for a large publication.
77. Tried to lose weight seriously
79. Piloted an airplane
80. Petted a stingray.
81. Broken someone’s heart
82. Broken a bone
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Parasailed
86. Skipped all your school reunions (not, I hasten to add, by choice -- they all took place around family events)
87. Shaved your head
88. Caused a car accident
89. Pretended to be “sick” (who's pretending? I call it "sick and tired leave")
90. Swam in the Pacific Ocean
91. Saved someone’s life.
92. Fainted
93. Been in the room while someone is giving birth
94. Hitchhiked
95. Adopted a child
96. Been caught daydreaming
97. Been to the Painted Desert
98. Called off a wedding engagement
99. Donated your blood
100. Become a follower of Jesus Christ

Monday, October 23, 2006

Senescence. Oy.

Some time ago, I blogged about the possibility of having my father-in-law moving in with us. Well, it's happened. Last week, he nearly fell while grocery shopping, and he sounded so panicky that my husband -- his only child -- went racing down to NJ on Thursday and brought his dad back on Saturday -- just packed a few clothes, two (!) radios, and two large boxes of oatmeal (at FIL's insistence, of course -- like we didn't know what oatmeal was in the Wilds of NH), and up they came.

People have been trying to make out like we're saints or something for having him here. WE AREN'T. There simply is no other choice. He's 94, blind and deaf, and he shouldn't have been living on his own as long as he has. But it wasn't till June that he consented to move in with us, and of course after that, we had our own difficulties.

It's already looking like we will have to consider assisted living for him, mostly because my husband finds he can't sleep at night -- keeps waiting for his dad to get up out of bed and fall to the floor. Then there is the drinking. Apparently my FIL is accustomed to downing half a pint of scotch every evening. Half a pint, in case you missed this in arithmetic class the way I did, is an entire cup of scotch. Not at one sitting, mind. He has 3 oz. for his first drink, 3 oz. for his second drink, and the remaining 2 oz. as an after-dinner "aperitif," as he describes it. My husband and I just looked at each other, as the pint-size bottle he brought with him got lower and lower. I'm wondering what he will say when he finds that the bottle of scotch he thought came up with him, was never packed.

I hate to ask for yet more prayers, but they would be appreciated.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I'm Done. :D

Today was a "killer" day for appointments -- three on the same day -- but here are the results:

1. Wound Clinic, 8:45 a.m. I am done with this. Discharged. The doctor started to scrape at the scab covering the incision and said, "There's no point my trying to do anything with this. It's healed." Checked the two drain sites and said, "That's skin growing in there." Was it just five weeks ago that we all thought this would take until Christmas?!

2. Infectious Disease doctor, 12:30 p.m. "You look so much better than the first time I saw you. As long as you're not having any fever from the removal of the drains, I don't need to see you again."

3. Coumadin Clinic, 3:00 p.m. (theoretically -- I didn't get in till after 3:30). No change in the dosage, and apparently, the blood clot I got from the PICC line will dissolve itself over a period of about 3-6 months. Once my clotting level stabilizes, these appointments will gradually decrease from weekly to monthly.

Oh, and the best part: I get to take a shower again. If you hear a faint rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus clear the other side of the country, around 6:00 p.m., that'll be me.


Thursday, October 12, 2006


OK, picture this: You start out with a lengthy tube that is inserted into your abdomen somewhere in the region of your navel. A few weeks later, feeling as if you are at death's door, you find out that you have not one, but two abscesses, one each side of your abdomen, that need to be drained of the fluid in them because it contains a potentially lethal infection, so two more tubes are inserted into these, attached to plastic drainage-collection bags that have to be emptied every four hours or so. Now you have three tubes sticking out of your abdomen.

As of today, all three tubes are gone. The center one was removed about three weeks ago -- or was it only two? Seems to me it was three, but I know I haven't been sleeping in a bed that long -- when the incision became so small that there was nothing left for the wound vac to suck off. That is continuing to shrink, and I will know its status when I return to the wound clinic next Tuesday. The two side tubes came out today.

Relief is spelled "Ahhhhh." I'm trying to imagine what it will be like to lie down to sleep, something I've only been able to do in the past ten days, with no tubes to be careful of. I have yet to conceive of actually being able to take a shower, instead of a sink bath -- that won't happen till all the holes are closed over, and that will be at least another week.

But oh my gosh, THE END IS IN SIGHT. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not an oncoming train. Time for a prolonged happy dance!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Well, Shut My Mouth and Call Me -- Something

After a day of doctors’ appointments, I have to share this:

1) The incision that opened up after surgery is finally closing up. I am off the wound vac, and the depth has gone from 4 cm to 0.3 cm! And the length has gone from 8 cm to 5.2 cm (that’s 5” to something like 3”).

2) Also saw the infectious disease control doc this afternoon, who says that I may have to take antibiotics for just one more week, and no more than two – the MRSA I was hospitalized for in September appears to be dead. All my most recent blood work is in the normal range, except for my albumin count (protein) – she says I need more protein. Since I’ve been consuming hardly anything but, that was almost laughable. So I guess I’m not giving up my breakfast eggs any time soon.

I am absolutely floored. Was it three or four weeks ago that the wound-care doctor said healing would take a lot longer than originally projected, and now -- he says it will be completely healed in 2-3 weeks, which is pretty darn close to his original projection. The drains that I have in place to drain off the two abscesses are a little dicier, at least till I have another CAT scan, but the last CAT scan looked pretty good, so I'm hopeful the next one, later this week, will show that both abscesses have collapsed, and that will mean they can take these drains out at last. You have no idea how "interesting" life can be when you have three lengthy tubes coming out of your abdomen....

Now, if I can just start going to church again! I've only been once in the last two months. But I'm hoping to go again this coming Sunday. And once everything is closed up and healed, I will be able to receive Communion again -- how I have missed that.

Monday, October 02, 2006

xx Years Ago I....

Cribbed this from Philippa's blog

25 years Ago I...
- Was 34
- was living in Waltham, MA
- had a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old
- experienced my first real New England autumn

20 years Ago I...
- Was 39
- was working at Harvard University
- together with my husband, bought our first (and to date only) house
- moved to NH

15 Years Ago I...
- Was 44
- became Orthodox
- watched the fall of communism in the Soviet Union with a feeling of utter disbelief
- worked for an educational assessment firm

10 Years Ago I...
- Was 49
- was attending college, at long last, to become an accountant
- was stunned to learn that my mother-in-law had died suddenly
- was thanking God that 1995 was over

5 Years Ago I...
- Was 54
- was struggling with depression
- was dealing with the loss of my mother, the transfer of my spiritual father, and the marriage of my daughter
- was fired for the first time in my life -- from a volunteer job!

4 years ago I...
- Was 55
- rediscovered cross stitch
- finally figured out the sequence of Matins and Vespers
- broke my wrist in a fall down a flight of stairs, and had it healed by the Kursk Root Icon of the Theotokos

2 Years Ago I...
- Was 57
- lost my son when he moved to PA
- went to Jordanville for the last time (there's always next year!)
- had the kitchen updated and renovated, at long last

1 Year Ago I...
- Was 58
- took the train to PA to visit my son
- started a cross-stitch piece as a gift for him, a steam train rolling through the mountains at evening
- finally realized that it was OK to power down on activities -- I've earned my retirement!

Yesterday I...
- read Matins at home
- finished the last of seven books lent to me by our priest's wife
- listened to the rain
- cooked my first meal in two months (dh has been cooking since my surgery)

Today I...
- hope to get back into cross stitch
- plan to wash towels
- need to find something else to read
- gear myself up for marathon doctors' appointments all week

Tomorrow I...
- visit the Wound Care Center w/r/t the healing of my incision
- visit the Infectious Disease Control doc to see what's up with MRSA
- get ready to visit a doctor I no longer have any confidence in (on Wednesday)
- try to remember that at some point, all this will end

Tag: To anyone who wants to pick it up.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mrs. A., I Presume?

Uh, not exactly. More like MRSA, which stands for something along the lines of methicillen-resistant stapholococcus something-or-other. It is a particularly nasty staph infection, highly resistant to all the usual antibiotics, and it lurks in, of all places, hospitals. And it is what I have been coping with ever since September 6th.

Yes, I am just back (actually got home two days ago) from yet another hospital stay, this one rather longer than the first. A nurse friend of mine maintains that if I'd been kept longer the first time, the hospital may have caught this thing, but I don't see how, since it only just surfaced a month after the hysterectomy. The Infectious Disease Control doc maintains that the germs implanted themselves in my body during the surgery (leading me to wonder about asepsis at this hospital!!!), and have been quietly growing colonies ever since. Be that as it may, when I went into chills and fever on September6th, my husband took me to the Emergency Room, I had a CT scan at midnight (talk about an ungodly hour!!!), and was admitted early the morning of the 7th. The CT scan showed two abscesses in my belly. Those have been draining ever since the 7th, though I think they are beginning to peter out, and once they do, at least those two holes can be closed off.

Wait, it gets better. Because IVs can't be left in place for more than a couple of days, and I would be in the hospital for 10-14 days, they inserted a PICC line into my right arm, which is basically a very long IV that goes right up through your vein. (Yes, they use a mild anesthesia, thank goodness.) Four days after inserting it, they did an ultrasound to make sure that all was well with the PICC line, and -- it wasn't. I'd developed a blood clot.

I'm telling you, between staph infections and procedures that create more problems than they solve, hospitals are dangerous places. Now I am on two more medications: Bactrim, the one oral antibiotic that can overcome MRSA (the other antibiotic, vancomycin, is given intravenously), and Coumadin, a blood thinner that is supposed to keep the clot from getting any bigger. My question: Why don't they just bust up the clot?! Doctors make no sense whatever.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

...before I will ever see the back of this affair. After the latest examination, the wound-care specialist said, "What was my original estimate? 4-6 weeks? I probably shouldn't have said that." "Meaning," I said, "it'll take longer." "It'll take longer."

Actually, it's beginning to look a lot like never at this point. I think I will just give up hope of ever having a normal life again -- that's the safest route. Well, I see the oncologist this Friday for the final (presumably) exam, and we'll see what he has to say about anything. With my luck, he'll recommend a few rounds of chemo just to add to the overall misery. Why not?

Meanwhile, I've come up with a scenario for my little sucky buddy, though it only works if you're into sci-fi, as I discovered when I pulled it on the nurse today, and she had no idea what I was talking about. I decided -- this all comes from the appearance of my navel, with this big black THING sucked into it -- that the "vac" is actually a tricorder that is recording all kinds of information about me, and when I plug the vac/tricorder into the wall outlet ostensibly to charge the battery, it starts relaying the info back to the Mother Ship. These particular aliens aren't into anal probes, but prefer navel probes -- one thing to be thankful for, at least.

Hey, I need some kind of self-generated insanity to keep me sane.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Moving Right Along, or In, or....

An anonymous poster to my blog asked about the reasons for my father-in-law's moving in with us, whether for health reasons or practical. The short answer is, yes. ;-)

It's a little of both. He's 94 years old, for one thing, with macular degeneration and substantial hearing loss, and he should not have been living on his own all these years (ten, since my mother-in-law's death). Try to convince him of that, however, and it was only this past June that my husband got his father to agree to move up with us. Sure, he lives in a retirement community, and sure, the ideal thing would be for him to live in his own place and us nearby. But we don't live nearby, and are not about to move down to NJ, and -- well, he really shouldn't be on his own.

A funny aside to all this: Just before my surgery, I got a frantic phone call from an old family friend, landing on us about how he shouldn't be alone and what were we thinking, not having him with us, etc. etc. When I could get a word in edgewise, I explained that his moving in with us had been in the works, till my own health became an issue, and that it would be back in the works as soon as I was recovered. Oh. Then the Old Family Friend explains that she has been Talking with my FIL's next-door neighbor, and I see what's really going on: The next-door neighbor is the one he depends on for rides to church and to the doctor's, and she's getting sick and tired of carting him around! And well she should, but this has been his "escape route" for not having to move!!

It gets better. Last week he mentioned to the Next-Door Neighbor that he would be moving up to NH before the end of the year. By the next day, he had offers for his house from all over Leisure Village (the retirement community)! At least we know it will sell easily....

Sometimes I think about moving to a retirement community. My in-laws were younger than we are now, when they did that. It was just the thing for my MIL, lots of Activities, and not having to take care of their property but still owning the roof over their heads; bus access to church and shopping; opportunities for travel, which incidentally my FIL hated. But then I think about being with a lot of other geezers, and being pressured to Take Part in All the Activities, and would we have bus access to stores and church -- plus, I would hate to be a part of the trend up here, which is the ruination of Maine by people moving up from Massachusetts.... And then there are all the people we know here, and we know all the short-cuts around heavy traffic....

I think we'll stay put as long as we can. Hopefully, till it's our turn to move in with a kid. :->

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It Sucks, It Really Does

I'm referring, of course, to my wound vac, "vac" being short for Vacuum-Assisted Closure. I got hooked up today. It looks like I have the navel of a space alien, with this big black blob (that's the sponge) compressed by the "negative pressure" (read vacuum) over my more normal human navel. A tube leads out of that and into a canister, and through vacuum pressure the drainage that is keeping the wound from closing is sucked out and deposited in the canister, which is changed when it's full and disposed of as medical waste. At the same time, the vacuum sucks up healthy cells from elsewhere in the body and deposits them into the wound cavity, which speeds up healing (by how much, I'm not entirely sure. Weeks, anyway).

The rest of the machine consists of a large battery pack that has to be charged up twelve hours out of 24, which leaves me with quite a bit of freedom, providing you don't mind toting the battery-pack-cum-canister everywhere you go. I'm most concerned, at this point, with how to manage the drainage tube when I settle down for the night, since I'm still sleeping in a recliner, and I don't want the tubing to get caught up in any of the chair mechanisms -- if it does, I run the risk of breaking the vacuum seal, and I don't want to do that because I'm not sure, yet, how to fix it.

It's not particularly painful, thank goodness, just a definite sense of pressure in the area of my navel, but I guess I'll get used to that. Nor is it especially noisy, which was one of my concerns; however, the noise it does make resembles nothing so much as, well, a quick fart. Do I really want to tote this thing into church with me??? ;-)

The alien-navel sponge gets changed three times a week; the canister is changed whenever it's full of drainage (they think that might happen once a week, with my wound); the whole healing process is supposed to take two months tops, which is just about the time I should be completely healed from the hysterectomy, or, as I've taken to calling it, the "hystericalectomy," because it just gets weirder and weirder. And once the procedure is complete, and I can confidently expect to resume what passes for my own life:


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My Life is a Soap Opera

In the ongoing saga of post-surgical sub-existence, my mind is still boggling. I'm beginning to wonder if this will be its permanent state.

Today was supposed to be the day when I got hooked up to my vacuum cleaner. The doctor comes in (not, thank goodness, the same as my surgeon), takes a look, and shakes his head. Apparently there are two little tunnels, one at either end of the wound, and they are still draining, and he can't get them in contact with the dressing that covers the wound and creates the vacuum that sucks all the bad stuff out and pulls up all the good stuff. He says either they need to close -- by next week -- or he will need to open the wound further to expose the tunnels so they can come into contact with the dressing. Can this get any more complicated, d'ya think?!

I met with my gynecologist today, and needless to say, it was not the happiest moment of the day for either of us. She wanted to undo the dressing that the Wound Care Center had just put on, and yes, she knew I had been there, and I wouldn't let her; her dressings are nowhere near as thorough as theirs are. Finally I just walked out. She also tried to tell me that the wound would not have closed over in any case, and yeah, that's possible, since I'm not the skinniest woman around. But I would like to have the feeling that my doctor had done everything possible to see this surgery through to an uneventful conclusion, and that's not how I feel; and then to have my feelings discounted - well, now I'm not sure if I should even go back at all, and if so, when. (I should add that the post-surgical exam will be done by the surgeon of record, a gynecological oncologist; the woman in question is my gynecologist.)

Most disturbing in all of this is my poor husband, who thought he would be running the household for maybe 4-6 weeks, till I got on my feet, and now there's no end in sight for him; and he's still trying to hold down his day job, working half-days from home and spending the other half on the household stuff. At work, they keep bugging him for updates, and he's in no position to give them, because I'm in no position to give them; this is almost a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants situation. So anyone who has any spare prayers lying around, please send them our way; my husband's name is Jim. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Incredibly, Hope

I don't know if I mentioned in yesterday's blog that I had an appointment at a Wound Care Center in the next town over, people whose job is (in my not-so-humble opinion) cleaning up after other doctors' messes. Actually, they deal with severe wounds that just won't close.

I was sitting at the table, trying to force down a soft-boiled egg, when one of the visiting nurses showed up to change my dressing, despite my having told everybody and his uncle from day one that my dressing wouldn't have to be changed today, since that would be done at the Wound Care Center. My husband went outside to try to chase her off -- we get billed by the visit, and our insurance will only cover 25 visits per year -- while I attended to various personal chores. When I came out, she was standing in the kitchen, talking to my husband. Sigh.

And for some reason -- I found out later that she and dh had discussed this outside -- she mentioned that in a circumstance like this, the body takes a terrific hit. Dealing with the emotional trauma takes all the body's reserves, but after surgery and then a complication, there are no more reserves.

Do you know how incredibly helpful it is to hear someone say this?! That that awful helpless feeling of not being able to cope with even life simplest tasks is physiological?! I can't describe the lift I got from hearing it put that way. No "Stop feeling sorry for yourself," no "It'll be fine, you'll see," none of that phenomenally brainless optimism that leaves you feeling as if you have to Get Into the Spirit of the Thing, rah rah!! Just, "This is how it is, and it takes time to get off Point A, let alone actually making it to Point B."

I kept this in mind all day, and had proof of it later in the day, when I went to make a medication log in my planner, just something that would help me keep track of how much of what I had had -- I wrote it out for today, then what I'd had for breakfast and lunch, and I was absolutely exhausted. How can you get wiped from making a list?!

Oh, yeah, the Wound Care Center. Apparently they have this vacuum thing that sucks up healthy cells from other parts of the body and deposits them in the cavity of the wound. I asked for a worst-case scenario, since I can't function with Optimistic Prognostications, and was told, "Worst case? Two months."

Two months?! I was sure I was looking at 6-8 months!! Of course, I'll be hooked up to "Ginny" 24/7 for those two months, but hey, it beats 8 months. ("Ginny": wound vac = WV = West Virginia = Ginny. I need to do at least one weird thing per day to stay on keel.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Setback :-(

Well -- I survived, as most of you know by now. The surgery actually went very well (I'm told), and I came home last Monday, slept for half the week, and was all set to move on to recuperation.

Yeah, right.

On Friday, I went to my gynecologist's office to have the stitches taken out, something they used to do in the hospital back when I was having kids. And back then, the stitches were in for 8-9 days, and those puppies HELD. Not this time, they didn't. So now I'm walking around with a 5" slit in my gut, which needs to be dressed twice a day by Visiting Nurses (and our insurance will only pay for 25 visits).

To top it all off -- my doctor is on vacation. I really liked this doctor, and I can't get over the fact that she scheduled someone for major surgery the week before she went on vacation. And I can't get past wondering if she wasn't in such a big honking rush to get the stitches out so she could go on vacation -- and now I have to live with the consequences of her being in such a rush.

Honestly, if I had known? I don't know if I would have gone through with it, I just don't know. But what I do know is that my life is now what I swore it would never be: I have no life. It's taken up by medical procedures and consults and pills, 24/7. And this is what it will be, now that I've chosen this semi-"life" instead of letting nature take its course: As you age, you become more and more of an income for the Medical Establishment.

70 is a good age. 80 can be a good age. 90? I have people in my family in their 90s. 90 is not a good age. Nor do I want to do that to my kids ("When the heck is the old bat finally gonna give in?!"). No one in his 60s should have a living parent.

I can only hope now that God takes me before then. Now that I've chosen "life."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Blogthings - Where Should Your Inner New Yorker Live?

Blogthings - Where Should Your Inner New Yorker Live?

You Belong in Brooklyn

Down to earth and hard working, you're a true New Yorker.
And although you may be turning into a yuppie, you never forget your roots.

OK, I had to post this one. As most of you know, (a) I'm seriously addicted to BlogThings, and (b) I am actually a native New Yorker, who grew up on the border between Queens and Brooklyn. So this quiz was a must-take for me, and finding out I'm a "true New Yorker," who "never forgets her roots" -- ahhh. Newtown Creek still runs in my veins! =:0 (That's a Screaming Mimi face -- if you ever had the misfortune to have to cross Newtown Creek, you'd scream too.)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

As of today, we have been in our house exactly 20 years. It's the longest we have ever lived anyplace, including both our childhoods. We've done a lot to the place, put in double-paned windows and new siding, remodeled the kitchen (which was original to the house!), and revamped a lot of the plumbing, not to mention the usual paint-and-paper cheapie remodels of all the rooms.

Twenty years. It's hard to believe. Our daughter was 11 and our son was 7 when we moved here. Now she is 31 and expecting her second child, and he is 27 and just yesterday, passed his practical test for his Transportation license, which means he can now haul freight and passengers with a diesel locomotive. The last hurdle is another 200 hours on a steam engine; then he will be licensed to do the same thing with steam, which is important on a tourist railroad (New Hope and Ivyland is both tourist and short-line freight). He's extremely nervous. That's a good thing, it will keep him from doing anything stupid.


In other news, yesterday I went to the hospital for an intake interview prior to having a hysterectomy. Why do hospitals treat their patients like a product?!?! The machinery kicks into gear and churns out yards and yards of labels with your name on them, reams and reams of forms asking the most phenomenally personal questions ("What in life makes you happy?" "What is important to you in life?" The answers to both would be enough to get me committed!). The thing that got me the most, I think, was being told that when I went to the hospital on Wednesday (the surgery is Friday), a red label would be attached to my wrist that isn't supposed to come off until I leave the hospital -- oh, and "don't get it wet." That's two days of walking around in public with the Scarlet Letter!! Not to mention two days of wearing plastic to shower and wash dishes?! "That's not gonna happen," I said firmly, and she changed the date of my lab test (it's to identify my blood type) to Thursday. "Don't get it wet"?!?! I will come home, snip that puppy off, go about my business, and reattach it with tape on Friday morning. "Don't get it wet," give me a break!!!

And I look back over the past 20 years and so help me -- and I never thought I'd say this -- I want my old life back. It had its drawbacks, believe me -- for one thing, my son's 12 years in school were unmitigated misery -- but the four of us were happy together, and healthy, my husband wasn't commuting six hours a day to and from work, and we had our own house, our very own house, something that had seemed so unreachable back in the days of 18% interest.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Somebody Pick Me Up Off the Floor

Feeling at loose ends today, and slightly masochistic, I guess, I got into my Xanga account and from there went over to Chris's ex-girlfriend's blog, just to see what was up with her. I'm still reeling.

Out of curiosity, I paged back through her blog, back two years ago, when they were together. And nearly all of it is gone.

All but one photo of him.
All the references to the week she spent with us.
All the references of the trip they took together into northern New Hampshire.
Nearly every reference to his first winter in PA -- she had a cute blog up about how much fun they'd had while shoveling out the driveway. Gone.
All the references to what it was like to have a railroader for a boyfriend -- she liked trains, too, and those were very cute. All gone.
The post she had written about her first Pascha as an Orthodox Christian, gone. (Interestingly, the post about her baptism is still up.)

He loved her so much. For their first (and last) Christmas together, he walked twelve miles to buy her a present -- he was a bus driver at the time, and had driven a charter to Atlantic City. Having several hours at his disposal, but no transportation other than his bus, he walked six miles to the nearest mall, and six miles back, to buy her a DVD she'd been wanting. No reference to that. No reference to their Christmas together at all.

I guess I'm having a hard time believing that someone who loved her so much that he left home for her, has ceased to exist in her mind. And why? Because once he moved closer to his railroad job, she felt "abandoned." He told us that that was why she dumped him -- she didn't feel as if she "mattered" in his life anymore, probably because he wasn't driving an hour and a half to her house every single evening.

I just can't conceive of such cold-bloodedness.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An Answer, At Last

Just heard from the oncologist -- his lab confirms that it looks enough like early-stage cancer that they are recommending surgery. So he will call me on Friday to set that up.

Thanks, everyone, for your support in this matter. I was never of a mind to fool around with hormones, I've wanted it out. Now I don't have to argue with this character.

St. Marina Goes to Work

Yesterday was my name day -- apparently, Margaret is another name for St. Marina of Antioch. St. Marina/Margaret used to be a saint on the Western calendar, too, until the Catholic Church threw her and several others off in 1969, noting that they were "probably myths brought back by the Crusaders from the East" -- since those "myths" include St. Christopher, St. Barbara, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, we will say no more about that, except to note that icons are not made of "myths." In other words, :-P~~~~~~~~~

However, sometime last year, this article came into my inbox, a translation from a newspaper article that appeared in a Greek newspaper. I was thinking of it recently, during my recent surgery. You draw your own conclusions.


A few years ago, a family from Lemessos, Cyprus, named Vassiliou received the following miracle. In Greece they are well known from the televised requests they made in order to find a donor for their young boy Andrea, who suffered from leukemia. The donor was indeed found and the parents began preparing for their trip to Texas, U.S.A where the bone marrow transplant was going to be performed. Meanwhile, they also prayed and begged Jesus Christ to save their boy. Before they left for the U.S.A the parents heard of St. Marina's miracles and they called the monastery of St. Marina located on the island of Andros in Greece to ask for her blessing. The Elder of the monastery, Archimandrite Fr. Cyprianos promised that he would pray to St. Marina. He also wished the parents for St. Marina to be with Andrea in the operating room, to help him. With Elder Cyprianos' blessing and with strong faith that St. Marina would help indeed, the Vassiliou family went to the U.S.A.
After the necessary pre-operation tests that Andrea had to undergo, he was taken to the operating room. A short time before the operation was to begin, a woman came to see the surgeon who would be operating on Andrea. She said that she was Andrea's doctor and asked to be allowed to observe the operation. The conversation that ensued proved that the woman was indeed a doctor. However, the surgeon replied that 'outside' doctors were not permitted to be present in the operating room and that his medical teams' policy was that no doctor other than those on the team be involved in such delicate operations. The persistence of the woman however, convinced the surgeon to allow her in the operating room. But before, he asked her to leave her coordinates [presumably, credentials] at the administration desk. The unknown doctor did as told and then entered the operating room with the surgeon. During the operation, she gave several directions regarding the progress of the procedure. The operation went well and in the end the surgeon thanked the woman and exited the operating room.
Andrea's parents immediately went to inquire about the outcome of the surgery and the surgeon replied that all had gone very well, adding that he could not understand why they had brought Andrea to him when they had such a fine doctor. The parents were surprised and responded that they had not brought any doctor with them. The surgeon insisted, however. He also told them that when he came out of the operating room Andrea's doctor had remained there for a little longer with the rest of the operating team and therefore, she would probably still be around. He recommended that they look for her. The search, however, proved pointless, as the 'woman doctor' was nowhere around. The Vassiliou couple then concluded that it must have been a doctor from Greece or Cyprus who had decided to travel to the U.S.A and contribute to the delicate operation. They expressed the wish to know who she was so that they may be able to thank her, and at the surgeon's recommendation they then went to the administration desk to ask for her coordinates.
It was with utter surprise that they read that the unknown woman had signed with the name "Marina from Andros". Tears of gratefulness and joy filled their eyes as they recalled that the Elder at the monastery had said to them that he wished Andrea to have St. Marina in the operating room to help him. Andrea's parents shared with the media their joy both for the successful operation and Andrea's recovered health and for the miracle they received. The Vassiliou family made the vow that the entire family will be present at the saint's monastery every year on the saint's feast day (July 17) and Elder Cyprianos reports that the family has been making the annual trip from Lemessos to Andros every summer to thank Saint Marina for saving Andrea.
Miracles performed by the saints have never ceased to take place in the Orthodox Church. With these miracles, may our Lord Jesus Christ help us build our faith.

Monday, July 17, 2006


A young lady whose chrismation I was privileged to attend on Holy Saturday, has written the most beautiful description I have ever read of why folks live in this neck of the woods -- click on the title to access the link. I should explain that she is not a New Hampshirite; she lives just over the border, in Maine, maybe about 15-20 miles from my home. I should also explain that "Ayuh" is how people in Maine say, "Yes" -- accent on the first syllable, pronounced with a long "a," barely vocalizing the "yuh." Try to pronounce it in the back of the throat with a slightly nasal twang, and you've got it.

But the geography is all pretty much the same, and in fact we were in Maine yesterday to attend church. Saco is much farther, 40 miles, about an hour's drive, but I go to confession to the priest of that parish, and the people have gradually opened up to me in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. Every time we go to Saco, I think, "If I ever had to leave NH, I'd want to move here," and Emily Michelle's post says why.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Blogthings - Are You A Control Freak?

I just had to post this, mostly for the benefit of any offspring who may (or probably not) read this blog, both of whom think I am the absolutely most controlling mother on the planet:

Blogthings - Are You A Control Freak?: "
You Are 24% Control Freak

You have achieved the perfect balance of control and letting go.
You tend to roll with whatever life brings, but you never get complacent.
I should probably take the test, "Are you addicted to Blogthings?" Yep! ;-)

Friday, July 14, 2006


Well, I don't know what to make of this.

I saw an oncologist today, who read over all the paperwork -- and there was a lot of it -- then said the pathology report was "inconclusive," and he wanted to send the tissue samples to a lab he preferred in the middle of the state. (NH is not all that big a state.) As I was leaving the oncology unit (the most horrible place I've ever been), he rode down in the elevator with me and said that he had called the path. lab, and they had admitted to "hedging."

Meanwhile, I have a friend who's a nurse, who had offered to interpret the pathology report for me. Having acquired a copy of said report, I scanned it and sent it on to her. Her opinion: This does not look good, have the thing out.

Yes, I'm a trifle upset, to put it mildly. Those of you who are on the OrthWomen's list may remember my posting, last year, about my lack of trust in doctors generally. I was thrilled to have found a gynecologist whom I thought I could talk to. But she's the one who called in this oncologist, and I'm not sure now if she will abide by his opinion, or if she will listen to me (and my friend), and take the thing out. Let me make this as plain as possible: I do not want to mess around with even the suspicion of cancer.

But how hard do I push???

Monday, July 10, 2006

And the Answer Is....

For a variety of reasons -- mostly because whenever I'm out and about, I've been feeling a tad dizzy -- I went to see my doctor today (I also wanted to update my list of people to keep informed about my medical condition). As it happened, she had had a cancellation for an appointment, so I got right in to see her. As it also happened, she had just received the pathology report on my surgery. And the answer is...

(you gotta love this)...

they don't know.

There are more cells than there should be, which is indicative of cancer. But the cells themselves look normal, and not remotely cancerous. So the official diagnosis is "hyperplasia," meaning, hunh???

See why I love modern medicine?!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Holy Cow

Much to my amazement, I have actually survived. Yeah, OK, a biopsy isn't life-or-death surgery. But do remember, I have no faith in hospitals whatsoever, so I plan to enjoy my feeling of amazement for at least the next 24 hours.

The first thing we established was the First Name thing. My first name isn't Margaret -- it's something I loathe with all my being -- and when people use it, I generally go for the jugular. Which is what I told folks at the hospital. It got a laugh, and I got what I wanted: people calling me Margaret, which is my middle name.

Then, I think I set records for post-op discharge. I woke up at 10:02, and by 10:45 I was out the door. I had been insisting, from the moment I learned I'd have to have this procedure, that I should have been able to drive myself there and back, and they kept insisting that no, I had to have someone drive me; and the logical Someone was my husband. That isn't gonna happen again. You know the expression, "Nervous as a cat"? He makes cats look calm and placid. And yes, despite dire predictions of loopiness once I was out in the fresh air, I could have driven home with no trouble whatever.

Right now, I have sent him off to obtain some fish. I have a blessing to eat fish on fast days, since I really really need to lose weight and finally found a doctor who doesn't think a low-carb diet is a recipe for trouble. And when I finish this post, and send thank-you notes to all my other friends who promised to pray for me, I do plan to take a nap -- not only am I post-op, but I've also been up since 4:30 a.m.

I'm glad this is over with. For now, anyway. Results in 2-3 weeks. Many thanks to all who read this blog, for the prayers you have offered on my behalf; I'm very sure that they were largely responsible for my being this together and coherent! ;-)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Slice 'n' Dice!

I understand that that's how biopsy is referred to. Which is what I'm having done tomorrow.

I hate doctors. The ones I have, I trust marginally, because they haven't done anything radically stupid -- yet -- but by and large, I strongly suspect there isn't an entire functioning brain among the entire medical community. I think they each possess a zygote of a brain cell.

And I really hate hospitals. That damn johnny, for one thing. (Everybody hates that thing. And the fact that they keep using it, despite knowing that everyone hates it, tells you everything you need to know about customer relations from the hospital's point of view.) But then, they insist on calling you by your first name. I wonder how the anesthesiologist would like it if I kept referring to her as "Debs." And when they're putting in an IV, if they can't find a vein, they keep sticking you in an effort to find one. For crying out loud, just get a damn phlebotomist up there to find it! To say nothing of the fact that the IV keeps you tied down until they say you can go. I mean, who's gonna risk taking it out himself?! You could rupture a vein or something!

But what I really hate is that you are not only helpless, you are clueless. I mean, what the heck are they putting into that drip bag, anyways?! It could be anything. How would you know? I was watching a TV interview while we were visiting our son in Philadelphia, and this guy said his wife went into the hospital for a routine procedure, and while she was there her entire lower body turned purple, and she was in excruciating pain for a month. Turns out it was something they put in the IV.

Then there's the woman I was reading this morning, on my cross-stitch board -- so this isn't tabloid stuff -- who said she had no anesthesia for the first twelve minutes of her surgery, and the only way they found out she wasn't anesthetized was that she coughed.

The thing is, why should an Orthodox Christian fear death (apart, of course, from an acute awareness that you actually have to stand before the Throne of God and account for yourself)? And when I think about it, I find that that's not what I fear. What I really fear is them screwing up so badly that I will need medical care for the rest of my life. I don't want to do that to my family.

So, much to my husband's distress, I have put all my affairs in order. I have a book with all my final instructions printed out, and I plan to leave it on the kitchen table. I plan to take icons fo St. Marina and St. John of San Francisco with me. Meanwhile, prayers would be appreciated.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Sixty, I read recently, is the "new forty," so I guess that means it's time to start being nervous about one's age when one hits sixty?? I dunno. What I do know is that I become that magic number later this year, and I find myself -- not exactly dwelling on death, but considering it. Making a will, arranging for a plot in my parish cemetery, all that depressing but necessary stuff. I must admit, it was a little startling to receive a card with my plot number and an illustration of where my grave is!! =:0

Oh, and I've written my epitaph. This is not the official obituary, which I'm sure someone will compose either in boring one-liners ("She was born in Brooklyn, NY. She went to school here. She lived there. She was a member of xxx parish," etc.) or hysterically funny purple prose ("On xx/xx/xx, our beloved Meg went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus," etc.). Reading the obits in the local paper is entertaining as well as, um, enlightening.

No, this one is how I want to be remembered:

When I look back on the hopes I've held,
the plans and the dreams that Time has felled....

No one will ever read the book
I wrote, nor give a second look
at art created by my hands,
nor speak in hushed tones of the lands
my strategies and wealth amassed;
and though in pleasure life has passed
with love for friends and family,
all they, like me, will cease to be,
unmarked, unsung.

Yet this remains:
The melodies and sweet refrains
of Orthodox Church music, learned
and chanted daily, till it burned
and purified my heart and soul,
refined the gift to shining gold.

So let this sum up all my days:
"She lifted up her voice in praise."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

Well, no, not really, of course not. It's just -- two consecutive posts, on two consecutive days?! The sky falling in is more likely than that!

But I wanted to respond to the several positive comments I got about my cross stitch. It is a complicated pattern, but made much simpler by two nifty little tricks I learned from a cross-stitch group I joined online: parking threads, and gridding.

Some people grid their fabric conscientiously, every ten or twenty stitches, using ordinary sewing thread, and the whole fabric looks like a giant checkerboard until they start stitching. I don't have the patience for that; so on a pattern like this, I work it in blocks of 10 x 10. (My pattern is gridded.)

Then there's parking: Once I've finished a sequence of stitches in one color, I find where it next occurs within that 10 x 10 grid, and bring up the thread in that space, and leave it there. Then I pick up the next color and work with that in the same way. When I've finished with the color in that row, I park it in the next place where it will occur. Looks something like this:

x = brown
~ = red
$ = green (all examples -- this whole piece takes a total of 87 colors!)

x ~ $

Now, it will occur to you that the last little tongue on the piece I put up yesterday looks like a heck of a lot more than a 10 x 10 grid. That's because I was down to the last 40 rows, and decided to work that bit straight down to the end, just to make sure I wasn't going to run out of room at the end -- yes, I had checked and double-checked innumerable times, but "paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep" (OK, Blast from the Past out of my system now). I had to be sure. Now that I am sure, I've gone back to a regular 10 x 10 grid.

And once this page is done, my pattern will be 20% complete. The next part takes me back up to the sky, and to stitching the word "Hope" in the sky -- the idea is to have "New Hope and Ivyland" arcing across the sky, and the word "Railroad" appearing in a straight line beneath those words. It's a present for my son, who has seen it, and, for an almost-27-year-old bachelor male, is quite excited about it!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sleepers -- Go Back to Sleep

I suspect that only a classical-music lover will get the full import of that title, so I will explain that it's from Bach's beautiful cantata for the First Sunday of Advent, "Sleepers Awake." "Wake, O wake, for night is flying, the watchmen on the heights are crying, Awake, awake, Jerusalem."

Now that I have that out of my system -- someone whose blog I subscribe to was bemoaning her slacker status, and promising a whole bunch of us to respond to our posts. I told her, No problem, and besides, there's a nasty little flu bug making the rounds of these he-ah pahts, which I know because it bit me yesterday and I'm still recovering (nicely, thank you). It's pretty sad when a little old flu bug can thumb its nose at flu shots and leave you shivering under a pile of blankets while burning up with fever, and every muscle feeling as if it's just been under the rack.

My point to her was that slacking is *good,* if it means you're getting lots of sleep, because sleep is necessary to keep up one's immune system so these nasty little bugs don't find their way in the back door. Can I make up excuses for slacking, or WHAT? Dang, I'm good.

Last week was my 37th wedding anniversary. We have survived travel 1/4 of the way round the world and back, seven moves, two children, in-laws (by far the hardest part), my changing religions -- twice -- the ins and outs of the public-school system, which I thank God I will never have to deal with again, AND the federal government, which is what has put bread and water on our table for all of these 37 years. I'm at an age where I hope I'll see my 38th wedding anniversary, but at least, that's not because I fear divorce; I'm just at That Age. I see people younger than me in the Obit columns all the time. And since I'm rather fond of the person with whom I have shared more than half my life, I'd like to continue sharing my life with him awhile longer.

Oh, and just for -- how does it go? fits and grins? -- I'm uploading a picture of my latest effort, Maryland Mountain Express, a painting by James Lee, translated for cross stitch by Candamar Designs. I hope to heaven that Mr. Lee does not mind the liberties I'm taking with his beautiful painting, which really is exquisite, but Candamar did note that they printed this design in the expectation that people would "embellish" it as they pleased. Obviously, I can think of quite a lot of "embellishment."

OK, all you sleepers -- you can go back to sleep now. ;-)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Amos Pottroff: 1925-1949

My daughter, who is a writer (her fiction is as yet unpublished, although she's a contributing editor for a number of special-interest publications), recently penned a bizarre short-short that was published on the internet -- since I don't know if internet publishing counts, for the time being I'll say she's unpublished, though after having read this mini-horror, I can't think why. Baldly put, it's about a two-year-old who discovers his mother's murdered body, and the whole 700-word tale is told from the toddler's point of view. She says she got the idea from a combination of wondering how her son would react if they were home alone and she were hurt and unresponsive, and the way I brought her up, with tales -- all of them true -- about kids who were struck by lightning while watching TV, or were snatched off the streets while walking to or from school alone.

Her tale is unfortunately not entirely fiction, either, since a classmate of mine was murdered while home alone with her four-month-old. Sometimes I wonder about that child, if he has any memory at all of his mother, if he grew up knowing that something big was missing from his life. Frankly, I can't conceive that he doesn't remember something, because -- I remember something. Every time I fell seriously in love, it was with a brown-eyed man, and my father had brown eyes.

People always think that when you lose a parent at a very young age, it's not such a big deal, because how much do you remember, anyway? And it's true that you don't remember much, if anything at all; but I can tell you from experience, you know that something is gone that can never be recovered, and it colors your whole life. For one thing, death doesn't hold the same horror that it does for others, because hey, you've lived with it all your life, like that uncle who keeps popping up at family parties and offering you candy, and you wish he would just go away, like to another galaxy. But he's there, and you learn to deal with him early on.

So -- what do you call someone who's been dead almost your whole life, but without whom you wouldn't exist? I don't know. I grew up calling him My Father. These days I call him Amos, if I have occasion to refer to him, since everybody in my family knows who I mean by that, since who in the heck names their kid Amos, anyway?! (And the worst part of that is that that was his father's name, so he grew up being called Junior. Junior! "Jun-YER!" Gosh, I hope his mother never called him home like that.)

We never talked about him, if my mother could help it. I used to ask all the normal questions a kid would who knew she was adopted, and my mother would always skate away gracefully. Finally, when I was ten and asked yet another question -- I think it was about their marriage -- she snapped, "We were both young and stupid." Oh-kay,drop that one real fast. As an adult, I finally learned that the marriage was not happy, and he walked out on her when I was 18 months old. Sometimes, knowing my mother and her family, I don't blame him.

What strikes me as bizarre now is that all the years I was a Catholic, 30, to be exact, it never once occurred to me to pray for his soul. I mean, Catholics are always praying for dead people. We prayed for my great-grandmother's soul, for crying out loud. But it never once occurred to me to pray for him, not till I was in my 40s and already Orthodox and I had a dream about him: I dreamed he was wandering in a trackless, featureless desert landscape, looking terrified, moaning soundlessly. Not hell, but certainly not heaven; and not too long after that, I came across a description of Tartarus, a place in eternity occupied by souls that never knew God. That would be my father, who was only nominally Christian. These days, I pray for his soul.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Stabat Mater

When I was a girl, a popular feature of Catholic Good Friday was the Stabat Mater. I copied this one from a website devoted to the Stabat Mater -- the owner has over 200 recordings of music created for this piece -- and she offers multiple translations, so I selected the ones that seemed to reflect the text most accurately:

At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last
Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, all his bitter anguish bearing, Lo! the piercing sword had passed.
Oh how sad and sore distressed was that mother highly blessed, of the sole-begotten One!
O that silent, ceaseless mourning, O those dim eyes, never turning from that wondrous, suffering Son
Who on Christ's dear Mother gazing, in her trouble so amazing, born of woman, would not weep?
Who on Christ's dear Mother thinking, Such a cup of sorrow drinking, Would not share Her sorrow deep?
For the sins of His own nation saw Him hang in desolation, all with bloody scourges rent.
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, she beheld her tender child, till His Spirit forth he sent.
O, thou Mother, fount of love, touch my spirit from above, make my heart with thine accord.
Make my heart to glow within me for the God who came to win me, burn with love for Christ, my Lord
Those Five Wounds on Jesus smitten, Mother! in my heart be written, Deep as in your own they be.
Thou thy Savior's Cross didst bear; thou thy Son's rebuke didst share: Let me share them both with thee.
Let me mingle tears with thee, mourning Him Who mourned for me, all the days that I may live.
By the cross with thee to stay, there with thee to weep and pray, this of thee I ask to give.
Virgin, of all virgins blest, O refuse not my request: let me in thy weeping share
Make me after thine own fashion Christ's companion in His Passion all His pain and dying bear
Wound me with thy Son's affliction, kindle through his crucifixion zealous love within my soul
Thus aflame with fire of love, shield me, Virgin, from above, when I hear the Judgement call
Christ, when thou shalt call me hence, be Thy mother my defense, be Thy cross my victory.
While my body here decays, may my soul Thy goodness praise, safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.

So what is this Catholic thing doing on an Orthodox Christian's blog? I think of it every year, when I read this, from the Matins for Holy and Great Friday:

Seeing her own Lamb led to the slaughter, Mary His Mother followed Him with the other women, and in her grief she cried: "Whither goest Thou, O my Child? Why dost Thou run so swiftly? Is there another wedding in Cana, and art Thou hastening there, to turn the water into wine? Shall I go with Thee, O my Child, or shall I wait for Thee? O Word, do Thou speak some word to me; pass me not by in silence. Thou hast preserved me in virginity, and Thou art my Son and my God."
--Ikos following Canticle Five, from the Canon by St. Kosmas

Well, no, it doesn't have quite the same rhythmic elegance of the Stabat Mater. But I like it better, for two reasons: one, it doesn't focus on me at all, and two, I think it's much more realistic. I mean, think what is happening. Think what it is to see your own child suffering horribly for something he didn't do. All parents witness this at one time or another, but none of us has to watch our kid being put to death for the crime of loving too much. This is what she's witnessing; and, with an exquisitely human grief, she simply -- blocks it out. Goes into denial, on a scale none of us can fully comprehend. This can't be happening to my Son, so He must be doing something else, like going to another wedding.

For a few years now, I've been able to read a number of canons written specifically for Great Lent, and the Theotokia of all of them focus on the agony of the Mother of God. And I find, with each succeeding year, that I enter more and more deeply into her pain; more and more of a sense of what she felt wounds my soul. Last year, I even found myself addressing Christ, "How could You do that to Your Mother?" And this year came the answer: He went to Hades, so she wouldn't have to. If He hadn't come, if He hadn't died, it wouldn't have mattered at all how good she was, how devoted to God she was; she would have suffered the same fate as everyone else, up to Holy Saturday. Of course He went through that for all of us, but I bet His Mom was at the top of His list.

Somebody -- I think it was Louis Evely -- once wrote that it was just great that she said Yes at the Annunciation, but this one, at the foot of the Cross -- this was the Yes that mattered. What a thing to have to say Yes to. What a thing to have to forgive. And so great is her love for her Son that -- she does it.

Most holy Theotokos, save us!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Who's in Your Corner?

Well, yeah, I cribbed that from the Capital One ad, "What's in your wallet?" Just like I'm cribbing this entry from St. Rebekah's site, where she was writing about her personal synaxis of saints. I have my list of favorites, too.

When it finally became obvious that I needed to be Orthodox, regardless of how convenient it was (it wasn't), I also knew I needed a patron saint. I would have liked to be named Sergia, or Serena, after St. Sergius of Radonezh, still my favorite; but the subject of a name never came up, and on my chrismation day, my priest just chrismated me "the servant of God, Margaret." Yes, I was disappointed, the more so because I couldn't really find a Margaret among the Synaxarion. (Russians tell me it's St. Marina of Antioch, but that particular priest said they were two different saints. There is a St. Margaret among the 40 Holy Virgins who were martyred on September 1, but nothing else is known about her. I like to know the people who come into my house, KWIM??)

How I came by the name Margaret is its own story. I was baptized with Mary as my middle name, and a completely unChristian first name, which I have always hated. As my husband and I began to move different places, it developed that nobody could remember my first name -- not that I care, but it was a terrific embarrassment for people who had to confess, "I just can't remember your name," until, by about the fifth move, I would just say, "That's all right, I must not look like an x." And they would say, "No, you really don't." To which I would reply, "What do look like?" Try that for a conversation stopper! Finally, one kindly soul answered, "Margaret," and since it began with the same letter of the alphabet as my middle name, I went to court and had my name changed so that my middle name is Margaret. And no one has trouble calling me Meg, except, naturally enough, my mother, who, being dead, doesn't call anyone anything anymore.

So! That said, our personal synaxarion, including, of course, our Lord and His Mother:

My favorite icon of Christ is Christ the Teacher. You'd think it would be the Good Shepherd, but I have never found a Good Shepherd icon I liked.

My favorite icon of His Mother is the Mother of God Vladimir. I just love the expression on her face. But I also have a strong devotion to the Kursk Root icon, since it once healed a broken wrist, and the one where Christ is wrestling His Mom to get out of her arms, and she's hanging on for dear life. I like the look on her face there, too! (Sort of, "God, give me patience with this Child!")

The patron of our household is St. Sergius of Radonezh. Why, is because he is the first Orthodox saint who cropped up in my life, and periodically thereafter I would run into various references to "Sergei Somebody." Why he keeps popping up like this is a mystery to me, but I understand that when this happens, it means a saint has decided to make himself part of your life, and this one really helped my son when he was in middle school.

My husband's patron saint is St. Demetrios. We were a little surprised to find that in the Greek culture, the name James is considered an anglicization of "Demetrios," but it makes sense -- more sense than James being related to Jacob!! That St. Demetrios was one of the warrior saints is especially important to a guy who works in the Dept. of Defense.

Our daughter's patron saint is St. Michael the Archangel. She chose him because she was, at the time, interested in becoming a cop, and St. Michael is the patron saint of cops.

Our son's patron saint is St. Christopher, which is what we named him at birth, and who has proven to be a particularly apropos saint, since (at least in the West) he is the patron saint of travellers. I understand that in this East, this honor is accorded to St. Nicholas, but St. Christopher seems to have done well by our Chris. What amazes me is that although I am 5' zip and my husband 5'10", our Chris is 6'4" -- just like his patron saint! And they seem to have had the same gentle nature, too, as well as the same interest in getting people from Here to There.

We also have hanging on our wall St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. For a time, we were members of St. Xenia's parish in Methuen, MA, till the drive proved to be too much. But she is another of those saints, like St. Sergius, who keeps sticking her head in the door to say Hi, so she stays in the icon corner.

The last icon we have in our icon corner is the Holy Royal Martyrs. I like them because they were so devoted to each other as a family, and Nicholas and Alexandra were pretty darn good parents, as well as madly in love with each other. It's nice to have some married saints around the place, too.

However, I also have an icon of St. John of San Francisco, which occupies our back office. I like all the stories about him, and he's the third in our synaxarion who keeps popping up from time to time. Whenever I get completely frustrated with Russian, I glower at my icons of him, St. Xenia, and St. Sergius and say, "Come on, guys! Help me get a handle on this cockamamie language of yours!" And they always do.

I am still looking for icons of St. Vasilios and St. Benjamin that would fit into the icon corner (Vasilios for my son-in-law, and Benjamin for our grandson). You'd think that with all the Basils running around the Greek Church, they would have every size imaginable -- apparently not. And finding any of the Old Testament saints is an exercise in perseverance.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sheep May Safely Graze

From the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete:

Spare, O Savior, Thine own creation, and seek as Shepherd Thy lost sheep; snatch the stray from the wolf, and make me a pet lamb in Thy sheep pasture. (Psalm 118:176; John 10:11-16)

Anybody who knows me well, knows that I just love sheep. As a knitter, how could I not fall in love with those fluffy little creatures who provide me with one of my favorite pastimes? Plus, they are so funny in their odd little habits (unless you happen to be a shepherd, in which case, those odd little habits are downright annoying. My daughter once had a teacher who kept sheep, till summer vacation, when the little dears came up to her window at 5:30 a.m. baa-ing because they missed her company. The sheep disappeared in short order).

Who, loving sheep, could not love an image like this? The Great Canon is, as I'm sure you all know, pretty heavy-duty stuff, and, at least in my case, all of it depressingly accurate. But this -- this says it all.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

This time I got tagged by Athanasia: How many Bibles are in your home? She has an impressive 20! So, without further ado:

1. How many Bibles are in your home?
We have 5: The original Jerusalem Bible (not the new one that's floating around out there -- my husband bought this one in 1967); the annotated Oxford Study Bible; the Third Millennium Bible; the Luther Bible, which is in German; and, believe it or not, a Scottish New Testament which is a riot to read, since it's written in Scottish dialect. Then there's an on-line King James Version that I have for when I have to put together something called Choir Cues; the Orthodox Study Bible, New Testament (and I most certainly do plan to get the Old Testament when it comes out next year!); and a "Boston Psalter," the Psalter according to the Septuagint, put out by Holy Transfiguration in Brookline, MA.

2. What rooms are they in?
The Jerusalem Bible, the Third Millennium Bible, the German Bible, and the Scottish New Testament are all in the living room. The Oxford Study Bible, the Orthodox Study Bible, and the Boston Psalter are in the office -- sometimes I have to look up concordance notes for Protestants who ask, "Well, what about THIS?!" when I'm on line.

3. What translations do you have?
NKJV (that's the Orthodox Study Bible), whatever the Jerusalem Bible is considered, KJV, Oxford Annotated, German, and Scottish. I'm considering asking my daughter for her Russian Bible, since she isn't reading Russian anymore.

4. Do you have a preference?
For daily devotions, either the Third Millennium Bible -- it has the style of English that I like best -- or the Orthodox Study Bible, which has better notes. My favorite used to be the German Bible, till I found out it used the Masoretic text, and I really prefer the Septuagint.

5. Nominate an interesting verse:
Now, this does say "interesting," so here goes: It's in the Scottish New Testament, when Mary Magdalene sees the risen Christ and thinks He's the gardener, then realizes Who He is and reaches out for Him, and what does He say? Well, in Scots: "Quit grabbin' at me, woman!"

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Music Meme! A Music Meme!

Over on Trudy's blog, she posted a meme that is irresistible for me: Your top ten musical rushes, those pieces of music that make you want to crank it whenever you hear them. Although I haven't been tagged, my brain immediately exploded with ideas. Genre mixing is encouraged, but that's a problem for me, since nearly all my "rushes" are classical. Oh well.

1. Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto, especially that glorious final movement.
1. (Yes, there are two #1s.) Bach's Violin Partita, of which there must be dozens, but I've only ever heard this one introduced in this way. It was discovered wrapped around a piece of butter in a dairy in St. Petersburg. The criminal waste of this man's music after his death is enough to make my blood boil.
2. The Hallelujah Chorus, from Handel's Messiah. Isn't that on everyone's list?!
3. Vivaldi's The Four Seasons: Winter. Final movement. Muted passion in every note.
4. Ralph Vaughan Williams' Five Variants on Dives and Lazarus.
5. George Butterworth's music. Virtually anything by Butterworth, since his musical career was cut so tragically short by WWI -- there just isn't that much of it.
6. Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) by Pablo de Sarasate. There's a relatively new recording out by violinist Gil Shaham that just smokes.
7. Romanian Rhapsody #1 by Georges Enescu. There is also a Romanian Rhapsody #2 with some nifty airs in it, but it sounds as if he cut it short before he could complete it. But in the first one, you can practically see the Turks coming over the hill, straight into an ambush by Romanian peasants. Of course the peasants won! ;-)
8. The Greek version of Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Sung in Greek Tone 1, it really sounds like a fight song.
9. And my #1 fight song: The Russian version of the Paschal Hymn, Christ is risen from the dead. Talk about spitting in the devil's eye!

No #10 -- I had two #1's, remember?