Yes, I know I've been back for two weeks. The first week, Jim was still working from home, so the computer was virtually unavailable. The second week, while he was gone on a business trip -- believe it or not, I was still catching up from my trip to Jordanville!
And what a trip it was. It did rain quite a bit -- actually, just about every day -- but even so, the highs each day were in the 60s, which is my kind of weather (the kids from California, though, were freezing!). I did actually complete my goal, which was the first course in Church Slavonic -- whether or not I passed, is still up for grabs, since the grades appear not to have been submitted, but for the first time ever, I answered every single question on the test, so I'm hopeful. I met, of course, a number of young people who were utterly charming, as well as one lady a bit closer to me in age, who was helping out in the kitchen (bless her) and who is well known in ROCOR circles as a producer of Church music. (I don't want to use her name without her permission.)
And it was so nice to catch up with all the instructors out there, especially the Choral Methods instructor, Nikolai Alexeyevich Myshkin. Last time I was in Jordanville, he gave me his address and said I could write to him; but I held off doing that until I could do so in Russian. Well, I finally did write to him, all in Russian, at the beginning of June, thinking it would take a week or two to get there -- he told me he got my letter two hours before he was due to leave for the States! It took a whole month to get there! I sat in on a couple of his classes, which I had already taken and passed, just for the purpose of seeing how much I could pick up in Russian (he only teaches in that language, and people in the class provide the translation). I understood about half, and I find, since coming back home, that I'm much more willing to take a chance in writing in the Russian language.
WHOA! I HAVE BEEN WANTING TO DO THAT FOR 45 YEARS, AND NOW I'M DOING IT! You can't imagine the thrill!
I had a number of experiences out there that I'd like to blog about, but don't want this to become too long, so I will just post this last bit, and then hope to post more during the week: On the Saturday when we were taking our final tests in the various subjects, I was having breakfast, cramming for Church Slavonic, when in walked that instructor. He sat down to have his own breakfast, and naturally, since he wasn't taking any tests, he proceeded to hold a conversation with one of the other non-students present. I listened in for a bit, then opened up my Slavonic notes and said, "Well, back to the salt mines." And this particular instructor added, "Or, as the Russians say, 'Back to our sheep.'"
I asked a couple of the native Russians there if they had ever heard that expression, and they told me that yes, it comes from a movie that was made a number of years ago, about two peasants who go to court over a charge of sheep-stealing. The movie was supposed to be a complete mock on the Soviet government, with the two peasants railing at each other about every conceivable aspect of their lives, and periodically the judge would bang his gavel and yell, "Back to our sheep!" The Russians use this expression nowadays to mean, "Let's get back to business."
And so, those of you who read this blog -- "Back to our sheep!" Let's get back to blogging!