Friday, March 30, 2012


Our family has the flu. It began with Tristan, then myself and the rest of the kids. Tikhon doesn't have it. This is a bad one. I have been more sick, but I haven't even been in this much pain for so long. The only thing that compares to the head pain which lasted for the first 3 days of this flu is post-op wisdom tooth surgery, when I let my medication wear off. Even strong pain medicine, which I have taken full time this week, barely touches the flu pain. Head pain, body pain, cough and fever. All of the kids have had fever and cough. The fevers ranged from 102 to 105. I no longer have a high fever, the kids fevers are also waning. Anatoly had a seizure at the peak of his high fevers. I was mostly delirious in the fever days. We are all very weak. I have been laying in bed for 4 days now. I can only whisper today, my throat is hurt from coughing. Everyone is wet with sweat today. When I first came down with this flu, I dealt with a lot of angry feelings that an illness was slowing me down so close to Holy Week. I had plans! Things to do! I felt very sorry for myself. Now, even though we are approaching a week of complete downtime, I feel more at peace with it. This flu has given me plenty of time to think about how needful I am of God's mercy. My lifetime confession is this Monday evening, if I am well. I thought I was prepared but this week I have been scared. I hope Father will understand that I have no idea how to do this.

Monday, March 26, 2012

why galabia?

I have nearly finished the last of the garments! This last one was for Tikhon, a shirt for Pascha. I used the same galabia pattern as for Tristan's.

If you're wondering why a galabia, there is no secret reason. I have a pattern for it, it is a formal tunic, and I wanted to. Galabia is just tunic. The tunic is usually very long and looks more like the vestments at church than the St. Louis Tunic, East and West and all. I had a wonderful time with the Folkwear patter. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fear Not

I am trying to not be afraid. Lent is running out. In the words of today's Gospel, "Lord, I Believe, Help my Unbelief!"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Paschal Artos update

Last time I baked a passable artos, I left a single loaf out for a week.  I have baked a few other recipes in the meantime with poor results. I left this one out because it is the recipe I have had the most luck with and I wanted to see what happened after a week.

Over the week, the outside hardened and the loaf became visibly smaller... mummification, I suppose.

Today I cut it open to see what it will be like one week after I bring it to the church.

It was fine. Moist inside... nothing wrong with it. I won't pretend it wasn't stale bread, but I don't think there's much that can be done to avoid that in a loaf that has sat out for a week. Today I am attempting to re-create this loaf and then I will freeze it as a backup. 

Why did I do this experiment? Because I have been plagued with nightmares that the artos has molded during Bright Week. 

thoughts about turning seasons

There is so much goodness in the seasons of the Church. I have felt it all this year even though I barely comprehend.

Sometimes I am tempted to feel exhausted by the momentum of it all. The incredible wonder of the Church, how can it happen again and again and always? My mind rails against the way the seasons make me aware of my mortality, of my delusions. It is just a temptation...  I feel it's edge occasionally. I know to turn away from the thoughts when they come up. For a moment, though, I wonder how Father can stand it, or others around me. The notion of the Feast figures like a Siren in my mind. It will lure us all and we'll go overboard, you'll see.

I know I should let go and go overboard. It doesn't have to make sense.
Every day is Nativity, every day is Lent, every day is Pascha.

Friday, March 23, 2012


I cut the fabric for Tristan's galabia yesterday. Today I hope to start putting it together.

I have never made one and find myself worrying about the sizing. I have a pattern for adults and chose the smallest size, which is called 'slender woman', for Tristan. It claims to be a woman's size 6 but the nature of the galabia makes it very forgiving. Tristan has very broad shoulders and I chose his sized based on that.

When I make one for Tikhon, who also has very broad shoulders, I will use the 'men's large'.

The side panels, which drape from the gusset area of the sleeve,  cause the shirt to be very wide in the torso. I am curious to see how this looks when all is done.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Romanos and Martin

Holy Saint Romanos, pray to God for us.
Saint Romanos the Melodist was our first thought for Rome's name saint, but we had settled on Martin of Tours after awhile because it felt wrong to ignore his middle namesake. Rome's full name is Romneya Martin Grey. Still, would we really call him Martin? I would love to, it was a first name choice of mine that never made it. But to most he is Rome, and if we could we should keep his name and call on his saint whenever we said it. 

When final choices were being made, we left it up to Rome's Godfather, Nikola. I believe he has chosen Romanos, so "little Martin" will have two saints. He will be Baptised as Romanos, and be named also for Martin of Tours the Merciful. Romanos has the bigger feast day, and an icon of him hangs over the kliros. 

Holy Saint Martin, pray to God for us.

Mid Point of a Long Journey

Last night Father said two Litanies for the Catechumens, one was for all of us and the other just for we who are preparing for Illumination. There are two new catechumens since we began our catechumenate but neither are being Baptised this Pascha.

Can it really have been a year? On Palm Sunday it will have been. Looking back I can't imagine it being any other way: We first walked in on Palm Sunday, completely unaware of the nature of the Feast. We processed with the parish. We held little bouquets of pussy willow. After the Liturgy we shared salmon and wine with everyone, again unaware of the significance of that fish.

Then we didn't return for Pascha. Our kids got sick and we had other plans for "easter". Not knowing what we were missing, we did not return to St. Nicholas until St. Thomas Sunday. We had an easter egg hunt near our home. What were we doing? We lived in a different world.

I am so grateful that we missed Pascha last year. I am so happy that we will come full circle on Palm Sunday after our first Lent. I approach Holy Week with a mix of fear and expectation. I do not feel ready, but I feel for the first time just how unready I will always be.

I told Father the other day that the only thing I know about being a catechumen is that I was not ready for Baptism before Lent and I didn't know it. I meant that I am still not ready, but now I know I will not be. By the grace of God (who will vouchsafe it to be so) I will be Baptised and Chrismated and approach the chalice for the first time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Seemed Like it Might Never Happen

I am nearing completion of the gowns. I have made 4: Mine, Kassi's, Toly's & Rome's.  Kassi's is completely finished, the other 3 need hemming and they are done. Last night I cut a pattern for a galabia-style shirt for Tikhon. I already have Tristan's cut.

The galabias will be a new thing for me. They seem fairly straightforward. I love Folkwear for easy to use patterns, so I am not anticipating too much trouble. The sizing has been really hard. This pattern has no measurements listed and I had to wing it. I erred on the side of too large and can easily make the shirts smaller if need be.

As an aside, flat felling by hand has been really good for my whip stitch.

I look forward to having all of it done.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What earthly sweetness remains unmixed with grief? What glory stands forever on earth? All things are but feeble shadows or deluding dreams--one moment only and Death shall take their place. But in the light of Thy countenance, O Christ, and in the sweetness of Thy beauty, give rest to him whom Thou has chosen, for Thou only lovest mankind.

St. John of Damascus

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Very Near

Pascha is very near, a fact made only more obvious by the Mid-point service today for for the Cross.

So we went and bought the underthings we need for the Baptism.

We bought cotton undershirts and leggings for Kassi, Toly & Rome.

I bought myself silk underclothes. We also bought white headscarves for Kassi and me.
Kassi had to try on her gown over the underclothes. She is so excited!

Friday, March 16, 2012


It just gets longer and longer.

I find it fascinating how many important things I forgot at first. Then they start trickling in and suddenly what I thought was my final draft is covered in a chicken scratch of additions and clarifications.

Yesterday it was a single page, today it is two.

I have thought about publishing it here once I have confessed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Preparing for Confession

I am sewing gowns and trying to make a passable artos. I am also preparing for a lifetime confession.

I worked a little on this back when Tikhon made his. He was ill so I read all of the books on confession out loud to him. Later, I renewed my interest in preparing mine when I learned I would have one- there was a time when I assumed that since I was being received by Baptism, I would not have to make a lifetime confession.

Confession likes to be forgotten about, I have found. Once I moved on from it, I neatly forgot about it until recently. Then I spent 2 or 3 weeks just thinking about working on it. A week or so ago I had a conversation with Father about it and resolved to finalise my confession. Yesterday and today I put pen to paper and got back to work.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Gowns

There has been progress. There has also been regress. I am about caught up to where I was before the mistakes. It has been an effort to keep moving forward with the little issues that have come up.

My gown, which is not pictured here, is coming together as well.

artos 4.0

I tried a Greek recipe for the Paschal artos. According to my family this must be an acquired taste, the bread was nearly inedible. Last night I made a plain prosphora-style artos. I took a picture of the seal before baking:

I am trying again today. I intend to make a very good one and freeze it, in case my efforts on Good Friday are not successful. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sewing Again

I am making progress today on the gowns. Remember, Martin's is done.

Martin's gown from behind. 

My workspaces are such a mess, everything is a mess right now.

Sewing area...

Knitting, books, other stuff.

Getting started today.
I cut the sleeves and gussets for Anatoly & Kassiane's gowns. Their bodices are already cut, appliqued and have finished necklines. I cut out my bodies, sleeves and gussets, and cut the applique for my cross.

Underarm gussets, I think.

sleeves and patterns.

My gown, in pieces.

My bodice with applique pinned in place.
I also brought out my galabia pattern and took a copy of the size I need for Tristan's Chrismation tunic. I have not cut the shirt from the linen yet... Tikhon says I should wait until the Baptismal gowns are done.
Folkwear 104

I think 'slender woman' will fit Tristan with modifications in length.
I began making a trial artos for Pascha. This time I used a Greek recipe involving cinnamon and allspice and sugar.
Paschal Artos v3.0

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Again with the running and workout

Another 2 miles and another work out this morning, I am not sure how I made myself do it again. I went running last night and felt fine, but had not rested 10 minutes after I got home before the stiffness and pain from my efforts set in. This morning I could barely get out of bed, but I managed. I even repeated the workout, trying to associate the pain in my body with good things to come.

I managed to do yesterday what I hoped. I remeasured and printed out the patterns for the remaining gowns. Now I have no excuse.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

running and work out, plus gowns

I ran 2 miles last night. It was after 7pm, really later than I would like to run in the future. The streets seemed empty and I felt afraid more than once.  I am afraid of the dark.

This morning I resumed the workout video I have used over the past year. It had been awhile. As I type my hands are a little shaky.

I hope to combine these two with Lent for two reasons.

  • The first, naturally, is physical fitness. I have long needed to resume these activities. 
  • The other reason is preparation through Lent. One shameful symptom of the fast for me so far has been boredom. Life without food is boring. I am not easily bored in general. I hope to shake this boredom by giving my pitiful, bored self something to do. Go running. Work out. Get over it.

About the gowns. This is so like me: I have lost the printouts I used for the initial measurements of one of the gowns. So, I have part of Anatoly's gown cut and sewn (the main body, with the cross and neckline) but have most the measurements for the rest. I can remeasure Toly, but if my measurements differ the entire geometry of the thing will be different. Not hugely, but enough that I will have to make it work together with the part I have already cut. It is not as big a deal as I am making it, but it has been a huge discouragement so that I have not sewn on the gowns in two days. Today I plan to remedy this by doing the measurement, printing it, and moving on.

When Tikhon gets home I will have him measure me again and generate my pattern. I can't do all my measurements by myself.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this, but I do intend to make Tristan a shirt of the same cloth for his Chrismation. I am using a Folkwear pattern I already own, #104 Egyptian Shirt.

It will be made of the white linen and have the same cross applique as the gowns. 

If I am feeling like I don't have enough on my plate at that point, I may make Tikhon a Pascha shirt. Why not? I would use the same pattern as Tristan's but without a cross, just a nice formal shirt for Pascha. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Many Years

Today is the second birthday of a little girl from church that Kassi loves very dearly. We sang many years to her on Sunday, and after we had a party at her Godparent's house with her family. We were honoured to be there, new as we are to their lives.

Kassi anticipated this birthday and wanted to make a gift. So we made one together.

We had a wonderful time making this little dolly together. I hope it brings its recipient many years of joy.

Our party yesterday, on the Triumph of Orthodoxy, was a great feast after Pure Week. Today we return to the journey of the Great Fast. Lent so far has not been without difficulty but I love it, I can see that I will look forward to it next year.

I need to work on the other gowns- I took a break to make dolly and her Baptismal gown. I am at a point where I need to bring out my bolt of linen and cut more. My gown is uncut, and parts of the gowns for Anatoly & Kassiane.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pure Week

What a new experience!

With the Koliva last night we broke the fast, then we had a potluck dinner. Like Wednesday's meal everything was excellent and filling.

I feel full of hope.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Koliva, κόλλυβα, kólliva, кољиво, koljivo, colivă, коливо

I learned a little about the blessing of the Koliva. Tonight I am sure I will learn more.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts

We were blessed yesterday to go to the Liturgy as a whole family. Tikhon took the morning off of work and drove us. Father told us in advance about the Litany for Catechumens, similar to every Liturgy but with special prayers for us as we prepare for illumination. Then Deacon asked us to leave and we left.

 And here I speak of fasting. We have all be fighting a respiratory illness of some kind, so I am unsure if my first experience with the physical effects of the fast is sound. Yesterday by noon I could have been knocked over with a feather.

 Poor, weak me. To think I have lived 31 years and never been without food. Even though I have lived in poverty, I have never been truly hungry. Where I grew up, anyone could throw a handful of turnip seeds in the ground and have dinner all fall and winter. Turnips boiled with a single piece of bacon. There was never a shortage of food. There was venison, turnips, and if all else failed, kind neighbors with food to share.

 Breaking the fast. It is silly to say the potluck we shared was the best food I have ever tasted, but it is true. I was a little worried I might get sick eating too much. I didn't. I felt full all day and human again. I still feel content physically, and I am writing this the morning after.

 There was a reading during our meal that I very much enjoyed. It was from Ivan Shmelyov's Anno Domini, and excerpt called Clean Monday, and you can read it here:

We did not make it back for the third part for the Great Canon. As much as I wanted to, we all needed rest.
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