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Archive for April, 2007

As readers of my book blog know, things are reaching a climax, at least in this first draft, and I had planned to finish off a chapter today. Hah.

Over the weekend, my husband started spitting up blood — why do these things always start on weekends?! — so this morning, he called our family physician, who told him to get to the emergency room. We got there around 9:30 a.m., and proceeded to spend the rest of the day there, while we dealt with x-rays and blood draws and CAT scans and heaven alone knows what else. But the bottom line is: dh has a pulmonary embolism, or blood clots in his lungs. We have no idea where they came from, how they got there, where they may have migrated from, how they came to lodge in his lungs — we only know that breathing has become steadily more difficult for him since November, when he began not to be able to run his usual five miles/8 km, without having to stop for breath every so often, and that over the past week, he has had trouble breathing while walking the one mile to work. Then this business of spitting up blood.

It all “sux,” but OTOH, maybe it will get him to think a little more seriously about his church relationships, or lack thereof — when we got to the hospital, and he was asked his religion, he hemmed and hawed and finally said, “More Orthodox than anything else.” So I hope there’s hope.

Meanwhile, I intend to escape for a little while, if not to Moscow, at least to Brighton Beach. šŸ˜‰

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Cribbed from Elizabeth:

The task is to name four of your favourite Saints, one who was well on the way to sanctity, is widely venerated already and very likely to be made a Saint in due course, and one who isn’t yet publicly declared a saint but probably should be made a Saint.

My votes:

St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
St. Sergius of Radonezh
St. Xenia of St. Petersburg
The Holy Royal Martyrs (that’s seven saints, actually, but I love ’em all): Nicholas II, Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei

Blessed:
Fr Seraphim Rose

Should be made a Saint :
Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain. One anecdote: He and his disciple Athanasios were standing in their cell praying, when suddenly the lamps started to sway as if stirred by a strong breeze, only there was no breeze. When they were done praying, Athanasios asked Paisios what that was all about. Paisios said, “Oh, the Holy Virgin likes to visit people on the Mountain [ie, Mount Athos] and see what they’re up to.” “And what did she see when she visited us?” “Why, she saw two idiots praying!” Anybody who can call himself an “idiot” when visited by the Holy Virgin gets my vote for sanctity. šŸ˜‰

Who would you choose ?

I tag Mimi, Philippa, and Catherine……… and anyone else who wants to play.

(And I must confess that I left in Fr. Seraphim, who was mentioned on Elizabeth’s blog, only because I don’t know of anyone else who’s as widely venerated but not yet a saint. I’d appreciate hearing other people’s nominations.)

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BarkingĀ Mad

A very dear internet crony, who has been feeding my ego by reading my books šŸ˜‰ came up with the phrase “barking mad” to describe one of my characters, who is indeed slightly batty. A crank. Just at the moment, that’s a bit how I feel.

I live next door to a Catholic church. Regardless of what we are all supposed to think about Catholicism (namely, that God Loves Them Too and that we should Pray That We May One Day All Be One, etc.), the fact remains that after Vatican II, they became horribly Protestant in their entire tone and structure. Their substance remains Catholic (and therefore, by Orthodox understanding, flawed), but the form has radically changed.

This particular church is about typical of most Catholic parishes I’ve seen in action: lots of emphasis on Peace and Justice Issues, lots of Programs, and lots of congregational singing of mostly Protestant hymns. Now, some Protestant hymns are gems–I’m thinking in particular of the hymns written during the Reformation, and those by the great J. S. Bach–but post-Bach, there came to be a movement known as the Quietist Movement, or maybe it was the Pietist Movement. Anyway, those marvellous old Reformation hymns were all transformed into 4/4 meter and rhythm, referred to by one Orthodox musician as the Plod of God, and so help me, he was right.

This place next door has an electronic carillon, and they play a lot of Plod-of-God hymns. Most of the year, I have to put up with, “Immac-u-LATE Mary, THY praises we-he sing,” which gets old when you hear it twice a day, every day. At Paschaltide, however, they change the record, so now I listen to a variety of Plod-of-God hymns. This evening’s was “The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ, Her Lord,” which at least doesn’t repeat the same dratted thing over and over.

My particular pet peeve, though, is, “Jesus Christ is risen today.” As in, “A-a-a-a-ahhh-lay-hay-loo-hoo-ya.” You know the one:
“Are try-umph-ant ho-ly- day-hay, a-a-a-a-ahhh-lay-hay-loo-hoo-ya.”

In sheer defense of my own sanity, I have had to compose my own lyrics:
“Cheerless on the path we’ve trod, a-a-a-a-ahhh-lay-hay-loo-hoo-ya,
Marching to the Plod of God, a-a-a-a-a-a-lay-hay-loo-hoo-ya!”

Please, PLEASE, somebody tell me you have heard a version of this hymn that actually SOUNDS triumphant and glorious?!?!? Otherwise, I shall shortly join my (very peripheral) character in the Barking Mad category. Thank you.

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The LitĀ Nerd

Cribbed from Elizabeth’s blog. Disappointing that this code apparently doesn’t show how you scored on other types of Nerddom, because the actual test did: I scored about 80% as a Music Nerd, maybe 60% Drama Nerd, 50% Artistic Nerd, 30% Gamer/Computer Nerd (probably because I spend upwards of six hours a day online!), 20% Science/Math Nerd, 10% Social Nerd, and 0% Anime Nerd (what is anime, anyway????). Ah, well, back to “litting.” šŸ˜‰

What Be Your Nerd Type?

Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and its eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today’s society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It’s okay. I understand.

Musician

Drama Nerd

Artistic Nerd

Gamer/Computer Nerd

Science/Math Nerd

Social Nerd

Anime Nerd

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

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Affirmation!

I have mentioned in a number of places that my current favorite TV show is NCIS, which is on on Tuesday evenings. The medical details of autopsy gross me out, but I absolutely love the interplay among all the characters, especially the Mark Harmon and David McCallum characters (i.e., my generation) with their four much younger colleagues.

Last night’s episode was about one of the younger characters who leads a shadow life as a writer. He has already published one novel, and is working on a second; and someone was going around bumping off real-life people who were the models for characters in his second book. What was unnerving to him was that no one, he thought, had yet seen any drafts for the second book — it turned out he had an obsessed fan who was going through his trash and reading his typewriter ribbons to get an idea of what the second book would be about, and was trying to “protect” the main character, based on Agent McGee, from anyone he thought was trying to “off” him. (Slight anomaly here: The character, McGee, creates his books on a manual typewriter. Anyone who has used manual typewriters, which is what I learned on, knows that those ribbons were used over and over and over — there’s no way you could read anything off those puppies. Apparently the scriptwriters were thinking of old electric typewriters that used to have single-use ribbons!)

Anyway, what was so interesting to me was listening to McGee describe his creative process, the way the characters took over his life, the way he couldn’t predict the end of his novel because he didn’t know what it was yet, the way the characters tell their own story, and he just writes it down. Then there were the little quirks, the manual typewriter, the jazz he uses to jump-start his writing (I have to write by hand in a certain size notebook, for crying out loud). I found myself nodding like a bobble-head at everything McGee was saying, and I thought: Yes, that’s exactly what happens to me! I guess I am a writer, after all! šŸ˜€

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Different Profile Pic

Having seen other folks’ nifty cartoon characters, I thought I’d look into getting my own, and came up with a Yahoo avatar. I hope this works:

Yahoo! Avatars U.K. & Ireland

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Many of you have been kind enough to e-mail me privately, asking about Chris, so I thought I’d satisfy everyone’s questions with a public blog: He’s fine. Now that the first shock has worn off, he’s had a chance to evaluate and to realize how “lucky” (read: blessed!) he was, that things weren’t much worse.

At the time, he thought he was without auto insurance, which is not mandatory in NH. He had had auto insurance when living here, which he transferred to PA when living there, but when he called to change his insurance back to a NH policy, he was told he would have to cancel the PA policy and then re-apply for a NH policy. So he went ahead and cancelled the PA policy, then found himself working day shift and was unable to apply for a NH policy.

We have dealt with this insurance company for 25 years, and I find that they are the best company out there (Amica), so last Sunday (after the accident), I said, “Let’s give them a call and see if there’s a grace period.” Well — I still don’t know if there’s a grace period, but his PA insurance is in effect until he gets his NH insurance! So they are covering the accident under the old policy, and then he can get NH insurance. This time, I’m sure he’ll make a point of it.

As for the rest of Life — it’s pretty much the same as everyone else’s, at least everyone who reads this blog. Getting ready for Pascha. I read everywhere about what a rough Lent it’s been for everyone, and as you know, it’s been rough for me, too — not just in dealing with the sudden taking over of my mind by about 15 fictional characters, but also in the ongoing struggle to get my father-in-law’s financial affairs in order. So much of this involves pensions from the City of NY, and New York bureaucrats could teach classes in stonewalling to those boobs down in Washington — I’ve never seen so many hoops to jump through, and it’s Jim who has to jump through them all, because he has the Power of Attorney. Just when his bosses are pressuring him to step up his production, too. I have been handling the other Money Stuff, taxes and stock holdings and trying to get his address changed — I’ve lost track of the number of changes of address I’ve submitted, and I’ve come to the conclusion that no one in New Jersey knows how to read.

And all this when you’re supposed to be focussing on your spiritual life, and on improving your relationship with God, not with your stockbroker. Then there’s the usual Church Tension between dh and me. Jim just does not understand the “draw” of church. I mentioned that I would be attending a 6:00 a.m. Holy Thursday Liturgy, and he about flipped out: “That means you have to leave home at 5:00!!!” “Yeah, well, I’ve been doing it for the past I forget how many years, three or four.” And he starts on a rant about Insensitive Priests who schedule services at Ridiculous Hours. I pointed out that this particular priest, whom I love dearly, has services this early so that people who work can still get there, and that it means that that priest, who lives a lot closer than I do, has to get up at 4:00 a.m. to do this for his flock; it falls on deaf ears.

But I know you will all understand what I’m saying when I write: If you love something or someone, there is no such thing as exigency. Love doesn’t say, I’ll do this, but only so far. When you love greatly, there is no such thing as “too much.” (If you have kids, I don’t need to say another word!) I can get up for a 6:00 a.m. Liturgy at 4:30 a.m., drive the 40 miles/70 km to get there, and wish I could do even more. I’ll be in church every night this week, except last night — I do try to accommodate dh when I can — but I wish I could just live at church during Holy Week. As my priest said this past Sunday, “Lent was about us. Holy Week is about Him.”

It’s not about Obligation. It’s about Love.

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