Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dear Daughter's I Am From Poem

I am from pasta and lentils, from Barilla and ballet,

I am from B Street, crowded, loving, scented with old wine and new detergent.

I am from the desert, from RV trips that never ended.

I am from common sense and strength, from my mother and her mother and her mother.

I am from tears of joy and sadness, from gardens failed and successful.

I am from "she reminds me of her mother" and my grandmother's hands.

I am from long hours standing in church, from incense, from wheat, wine and oil.

I am from Cape Cod, from granola and the one bite rule.

From watching war movies and trying to knit, from the lentil year and Sarah Morton's Day.

I am from my grandparents' desk, walls of photos, jewelry boxes filled with love and the occasional gem.

From an old steel box and recipes in my grandmother's shaky hand and my mother's elegant one.

I am from a line of women who are always together, even when apart, and the line will continue through me, my cousins and shared food.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I am from.....

I am from Grammies blue gravy pitcher, from maple sugar candy, from hand knitted sweaters and the old Singer sewing machine.

I am from the little house and little street; from quiet libraries and bustling kitchens; from Sunapee, cool, clear and deep.

I am from tomatoes, gardenias, cultured cities, mountains and lakes.

I am from seven fishes on Christmas Eve, from roaring fires and roaring laughter, from Josie and Bea and Judith.

I am from big noses and big hearts, from hard work and perseverance, from strength of character and adventure.

From "I love you" and "grosse fess" and "clean your plate".

I am from morning mass and rosaries worn smooth with use, from Pater noster qui es in coelis and Notre Père qui es aux cieux and Otche nash izhe ye see na nyebyesekh.

I am from New England, from Boston and Lake Sunapee; from Italy and Acadie, from gnocchi and poutine rapee.

From Grammies lost glasses, the old Garland stove, the dock floating away with the ice floes. From Memiere's silent laughter and harmonicas, from whalers and sea captains, plumbers and wanderlust, from Mexico and New Hampshire, from sea to sea.

I am from the memories of my heart, from polaroids and slides, from earrings and knitting needles, from shadow boxes of photos, from love expressed around the dinner table, from wine and peas and raspberry jam.

I am from paint brushes and baritones, french horns and icons, from singing and dancing and laughing, from endless support and love and pride.

I am from generations of strong women, holding hands, stretching backwards and forwards throughout time.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Courage Quote

I read this today.

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow". -Anonymous

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What I read this morning

A Prayer of Saint Isaac of Nineveh

Do you wish to commune with God in your mind? Strive to be
merciful... One should first of all begin to be merciful in the
measure that our heavenly Father is merciful.

The purpose of prayer is for us to acquire love for God, for in
prayer can be discovered all sorts of reasons for loving God.

Love of God proceeds from conversing with Him; this conversation of
prayer comes about through stillness, and stillness comes with the
stripping away of the self.

Faith in Christ is living, noetic Light.

A monk who with the eyes of his intellect gazes intently into his
heart while praying will quickly be deemed worthy of mercy.

The Light of Jesus is noetic Light, and blessed is the soul which is
accounted worthy to see it!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Am I a Control Freak?

Interesting question. My first thought would be to say no, I'm not a control freak. I'm in control most of the time, but not obsessively so, and I seldom seek control or power positions. I know one or two people would disagree about that, but they would be wrong. On the other hand, I do often find myself pushed into leadership positions, which I willingly (willingly, not gladly) take on, because I know that I am a competent leader and manager, and that what I commit to gets done. So when I saw this silly little quiz, I thought the results would be interesting, but instead, they are pretty much what I expected.

You Are 40% 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.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Training Readers

Late last night, one of the catechumens in our parish asked what Compline is. I hesitated about answering the question because it wasn't directed to me, but I knew that she is a person who needs "meat", so I went ahead and answered it.

As I was writing, and then rewriting for clarity, I realized that the information I was giving her is really the sort of information that Readers need. We don't seem to do very well with training Readers here in the US. I don't know what they do in Russia or elsewhere, but here, there is really no emphasis on training readers prior to tonsuring. Usually, men get pressed into service at Vespers or another service, and learn by doing. This is very, very valuable, but its not the whole story.

It seems to me that there are two "tracks" -- there are the readers who do just that, read whatever is put in front of them whenever they are told to read. These readers need only to concentrate on producing clearly understood chanting. These may be men, or women, or even children. This is is what most readers do.

The second track requires more in-depth training for future choir directors or men who may be tonsured in the future. These people need more than just vocalizing, pitch matching and fluent reading, they need to begin building up foundational liturgical knowledge. This is what excites me about the Readers Class that my pastor wants me to teach, and I know that by researching and teaching this, I will only improve my own understanding and knowledge. Its a win-win situation!

I also see the need to teach the choir how to read music and sight singing, perhaps using solfege with a moveable do, which is how I pitch the choir anyway, as well as teaching them basic voice placement and production and breathing. I've got a young teen in my choir with a very sweet voice and some musical talent that I would like to help her develop. I think she could grow into choir directing in the future. Also, for many personal reasons, I believe that learning more about music, and directing, would be something very positive for her. I've been thinking about this for a long time, actually. Her father and I spoke at length about her love of music and other things; he agreed 100% with me and gave me his blessing to push her if necessary. If I were to also teach the rudiments of music reading and vocal production at the Reader's Class, then perhaps I could train a Canonarch or two. This would allow us to do antiphonal chanting/singing in our new church, which will be such a joyous sound!!!! It should also be very engaging for the parishioners - I mean, who can go on autopilot and zone out when the verses are joyously bouncing from side to side of the nave??!?

As I was formulating my very brief explanation of Compline last night, I realized that I really need to spend some time on the Readers Services before I begin the Readers Training Class. It would be useful for potential readers to receive outlines of the various services and some understanding of the structure of the various services as well as their historical and cyclical context - especially the future tonsured readers and choir directors.

So, as I was writing, tried to put my answer in context. I'm posting it here so that I don't lose it and can flesh it out more for the Readers Class.

I guess its really a good thing that I'll be unemployed soon, hopefully for a short while, because that gives me time to work all this out and prepare lessons and handouts etc., as well as to work on my iconography.

If only I could pay my bills by doing the things I love -- like preparing this class, teaching it, iconography, etc....

As the Choir Director and the host for compline this week, I'll take your question on.

We know from the Acts of the Apostles that the early followers of Jesus prayed at certain hours of the day and night. This ancient Jewish custom evolved into the daily cycle of prayer of the Church. This daily cycle of prayer marks the passage of each day and occurs at seven set times, assisting us in fulfilling our Lord's command to pray always and to keep watch with the Church. The appointed times are basically every three hours, beginning at six in the morning and ending around midnight. Each service is called an "hour" no matter how long or short it is. All the hours together keep us engaged constantly in the work of glorifying God.

We follow the ancient Jewish custom of marking the day from sunset to sunset, so the day begins with Vespers at sunset (commonly held around 6 pm); then Compline (the after-dinner prayer) around 9 pm; Nocturns or the Midnight Hour; Matins and the First Hour (the longest service of the day), the Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours (corresponding to nine a.m., noon and three p.m.)

Compline was originally a strictly monastic service, prayed by individual monks alone in their cells, but over the centuries, it took on a communal, public character and evolved into the form we see today. Just like Vespers, there is a lesser form and a greater form, served with or without a priest. I won't confuse you with all the details of the differences between the two - an entire book could be written, and I am no expert. Here at St. Mary's, we pray Little Compline as a Reader's Service (meaning, without a priest) on the Saturdays when Fr. James is in Helena. We've been doing this for a couple of years now.

The basic structure of Little Reader's Compline goes like this: It begins with the Trisagion, or Thrice-Holy prayers; Psalms 50, 69, 142, the Doxology, the Creed, a Canon if specified, the vesperal Stichera of the day, the Thrice-Holy again, ending with the special prayers designated for the day of the week and the dismissal.

Compline will be at 6 pm at my house on Saturday this time around. You are certainly welcome to come. Give me a call on Saturday and let me know if you are coming, and I will give you directions.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Worry-Wort or Pollyanna?

I am really, really worried.

First of all, I'm worried for E's health. She hasn't been well since last January when she caught the GI flu that was going around. She vomited violently for a couple of days in January, and was completely wiped out by it. It took a long time for her to regain any energy at all. Since then, she has had ongoing stomach problems. She tells me that she wakes up nauseous most mornings, but it goes away in a couple of hours. I've told her that maybe its because she's got an upset stomach and she should eat some crackers when she first wakes up, just like for morning sickness, but I don't think that she is taking my advice, at least not regularly. Water tastes bad to her now, so she drinks juice, milk or soy milk. She used to LOVE to have a glass of wine, but now, the mere thought of it is sickening. She doesn't even drink the zapivka at church any more. I can cook with wine and that doesn't affect her, but its weird to pull out a bottle of wine and not have her begging for just a taste. She spends a day in bed being lightheaded and nauseous each month. She doesn't actually vomit then, but she is sick enough that she will have to stay home from school when this happens. Over the last month or so, she's vomited a lot. For her, at least, its a lot. I stayed home from church on Sunday twice in June because she was vomiting, or had vomited during the night. Last Sunday, she suddenly had to vomit at trapeza, barely made it to the ladies room, and then we quickly left. She vomited all the way home, and continued vomiting the rest of the day, and was nauseous on Monday and Tuesday as well. By Wednesday, 7/5, she felt better and was fine until yesterday, Sunday. Yesterday, she was fine until the evening when she vomited again. She doesn't have a fever with all of this. She and I eat almost exactly the same food, so its not food poisoning over and over. She might have some kind of food sensitivity or allergy, so I'm having her keep a food diary for a week or two. I think there may be a psycho-emotional layer to this, since whenever she gets really upset or stressed, she gets an upset stomach. But then again, last night she told me that she doesn't feel particularly stressed right now.

What I'm really worried about is whether the cancer is back or not. If its not stress and its not food allergies, then it must be something more serious. If not cancer, then maybe irritable bowel, Crohns, colitis, gastritis.... pancreatitis has nausea as a sign, I think. I can't remember what else --- its been a long time since I did medical transcription.

I'm worried about her health. I have to make an appt for her to get checked, but not until she gets a week or two of a food diary written down.There is definitely something wrong, though. I pray that its nothing serious, and especially that its not a recurrence of cancer. I'm scared.

My second major worry is that I won't find a job here in low-paying Savannah that pays enough for me to live. I really don't want to move and leave my cheerful little house and the support system I have here, but I would do it for the right job. The funding for my program is ending for sure at the end of August, and I've sent out about 15 resumes in response to known openings, without even a nibble. I'm starting to think about ways to become self employed at this time because well-paying middle-management positions in Savannah are pretty hard to find. I don't want to leave this area because we've been through too much upheaval in our lives as it is, but I would for the right job. I don't think my back will allow me to become a personal chef, so I'll have to figure out something else. I'm very worried.

Deep in my heart, I know that things will work out eventually, because they always do. But still, I'm worried. And I'm tired of always carrying the load. It would be so wonderful to have someone to help carry some of this, but that is not to be. I've never had anyone to help me, so why would someone come along right now? I'll get through this just like I've gotten through everything else - by putting one foot in front of the other and trying to do the right thing. I need prayer. I need to pray for myself. I never do that, but I should. I need to redouble my prayers for my daughter, too. I'm just, I don't know, I'm upset and worried about everything. At least my relationships with others seem to be ok and I don't have to spend my precious peace of mind on anything other than my daughter and my job search. *THAT* is a blessing!

See, there's always SOMETHING!