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Doesn’t that title make it look like I’m about to quit blogging? As if. But, like my cousin Di, you may have rather desperately wondered where I’ve been. I pride myself on making people feel desperate. As if. No, I’ve just…not been blogging. Spending my time going on walks, getting sunburt, painting pots, gardening, working, working up a sweat, eating malt eggs, watching Q, shopping for shoes, and playing croquet. Or, as my dad in a toothache induced stupor called it, crochet.
I went over to my parents’ for dinner, and one thing turned into another, and after a glass of wine, dinner, coffee, an ice cream cone, and beating up my not-so-small cousins for a while, I found myself playing croquet. At dusk. On the ever-so-smooth surface of my parents’ back yard. How do normal people play croquet? I have no idea. Jon seems to pride himself on finding the worst terrain and oddest corners for wickets. Around the pine tree, across the cement walk, around a corner of each shed, through the raspberry bushes, up against the rhododendron, and across a stretch of bumpy grass. With each shoddy hit came Jon’s exclamation, “Oh, it hurts!” But he got his dues when, nearing the finish line in almost complete darkness, he lost his ball in the heap of odds & ends under the pine tree. It hurt, but he had to forfeit. Strangely enough, the ball was later discovered under a bush on the opposite side of the yard. Cousin Donovan,* the competition crushed, rallied to finish first, and I managed to beat out Alexis in a last minute show of skill.
I promised Di I’d show her the shoes – but that’ll have to wait until tomorrow when I’ve gotten some sleep. I swear, I can barely remember the days when weekends meant sleeping in. Now weekdays are my only chance, and not many of those if Kate & I take up running again. (Oddly enough, the shoes motivate us to run. Run for the shoes! You can do it! We begin tomorrow.)
*Being, of course, the cousin of our cousin-by-marriage. We feel that Cousin Donovan has a pleasantly Dickensian ring to it and usually employ the name in his absence.
Easter was, as always, the same and different. It’s one of those times of year when all the previous years come washing back over you. Like a piece of paper folded accordion style, and all the Paschas line up together, and you think, “remember last year when…” or “when I was a kid this was always my favorite part.” And it’s somehow larger than just a memory – the other years are right there next to you. You could maybe jump over and be seven again, fighting sleep until you give in and tuck yourself away under a pew.
Recipe for a good day:
Around 3:30 am, after a plateful of heavenly Ethiopian food, snag the first Welsh cake you’ve had in years. Sprinkle with nostalgia.
(When Bronwen and I were in middle school, we would take Holy Friday off and hang out at her house. We felt very virtuous, fasting, and would drink bowls of water with spoons, pretending it was food. And her mom would bake Welsh cakes to bring to the feast. The smell of them baking? Pure torture.)
Toss in a scant five hours of sleep, and awaken to the smell of cream-cheesey puff pastries baking. Pack your Batdorf & Bronson, your French press, the buttermilk, and the pasties. Proceed to your parents where you brunch upon buttermilk pancakes, pasties, bacon, melon, and potatoes. Have your dad tell a liberal dose of Old Order stories, like the time they were punished for leaving a door unlocked by spending the night guarding the dumpster, or how when they were novices and had to fast every Friday, they could smell the pizza that the house mother & father snuck in at night. Go through at least three pots of coffee.
Return home. Bake macaroons. Prepare strawberry-mozzerella-spinach salad. Proceed to Kate’s mom’s house.
Discuss invasion by aliens, chickens, women becoming fighter pilots, who took all the mozzerella balls from the salad bowl, the glories of lamb, and whether or not God answers prayers like “please send me a laptop.”
Traipse across the street to the church for Agape Vespers. In other words, the rowdiest service of the year. Sing loudly. March across church lawn singing Christ is Risen. If you’re too old for the Easter egg hunt, take pictures instead.
Oh, and hold some bunnies. You’re never too old for that.
Then go to the basement and enjoy the bounty of the chocolate fountain – sticking the strawberries in is half the fun. And cheesy desserts, and ice creamy desserts. You must get chocolate all over your face. It’s required.
I feel quite smug when the Orthodox Easter is gorgeous and sunny as all get-out, not a cloud in the sky, almost hot: weather that is clearly superior to that of the Other Easter (on which the sun was struggling to shine through and a sweater was essential). Because, you know, God is clearly on our side here and sends us blissful weather as a sign that we have used the proper guidelines to determine the feast.
I just saw that Sal tagged me…and since I haven’t done one of these in a while (and it’s delightfully loose-ended), here goes.
Six Strange Things
1. Most years during Lent I have huge cravings for eggs. This year I’m fantacizing about deviled eggs, something I’ve never craved before.
3. I used to sing songs from musicals to put myself (and my sister) to sleep. She would make requests. We had a special fondness for Man of La Mancha. If I’d been my mom, I would’ve been dying of laughter in the next room.
4. I clear my throat a lot. Tiny little clears that don’t really do anything. Kate likes to point it out to me. I can’t stop.
5. I will recognize you as a kindred spirit immediately if you are willing to split dishes when out for brunch – one eggy dish and one pancake-y dish – because I find it impossible to decide between the two brunch genres.
6. After being known for the way I squeeze out my teabags thoroughly, I now feel guilty on the occasions when I fail to do so.
You – you out there. Yeah, the one snickering at me. I tag you.
The people were a hungered, and their stomachs didst cry out, and they said to themselves, let us go out and procure the fruits of the earth for the days that are to come, the days in which our stomachs shall be satisfied. And lo, they didst rise up and go to the grocery stores, which did yield forth their fruit in good season. Firstly the Trader Joe’s, source of moderately priced cheeses, of provolone and cream and mozzarella, of butter and buttermilk, of heavy whipping cream and cream for coffee. Yea, it did yield also the fruits of the earth, spinach and cantaloupe. From thence they went forth to the New Seasons, which also in its turn did produce rich rewards. The chicken legs were laid out and weighed, even unto four pounds, and the bacon unto half a pound. The freezer cases poured forth puff pastry and the people did rejoice. The pints of strawberries were numerous, from generation to generation. The coffee aisle, source of joy, rained Batdorf & Bronson upon the heads of the believers. And they didst rejoice, they and their growling stomachs, for the feast that is to come.
I don’t feel like I’ve written much lately – just relying on pictures to pull this thing along – partly because I don’t know what I have to say lately. My mind feels like a broken record – I woke up at oh-dark-thirty last night and couldn’t the same three thoughts to stop cycling through my brain. That and I couldn’t get church music out of my head. I kept trying to think of nice blank things, like a snowbank or clean white sheets, but that didn’t really help. I shouldn’t complain because I ended up sleeping something like a rediculous ten hours, minus the time spent tossing & turning & obsessing, which probably wasn’t that long, but it always feels like forever when you can’t get back to sleep.
Yesterday was a good kind of draining – but accounts for needing all that sleep. I came face to face with all the little ways in which I’ve been forgetful and lazy lately. The fact that I forgot to tell the library in advance that I needed to leave early to go to Pre-Sanc and Unction (something I could have told them this time LAST YEAR). The fact that it was my turn to clean the breakroom in March and I left it until yesterday. Etc. I feel so bright and happy when I’m on top of things and plan in advance and am orderly. It makes my head hurt when I pull shit like that and make people rearrange their schedules at the last minute just because I was lazy.
But then spending four hours in church put me right again. Go read Kate’s account of the Tour de France – excuse me, Holy Week. I watched Q for part of the services, which is something I rarely do for any length of time because she tends to ping-pong between her mom & grandmother. But I was standing by a bench, which offers endless opportunities for diverting oneself excessively (especially if one is two-almost-three), and then I took her to the playroom during the gap between services, which pretty much sealed her affections in my favor.
During Unction she asked very politely if she could get a scarf, so we got one from the cabinet in the narthex which is filled with various hideous head-coverings left behind by other parishoners (or, more likely, secretly dumped there to get them out of their houses). Q chose a particularly lovely blue & red polka dot number, long enough to trail on the floor as she wore it. Back in our places, during particularly solemn moments of prayer, she took to practicing what I like to call her “interpretive scarf dance.” It would start harmlessly enough, with her tossing the slick polyester over her head, followed by an effort to throw the ends over her shoulders. As soon as it was in place, she’d whip it off, flail her arms, hop a few times, perhaps throw herself on the floor, and start over.
Today I’m torn between weaning myself off food in preparation for Holy Friday’s strict fast or taking this last opportunity for a few solid meals. Technically, no food from what, sunset tonight? until Saturday afternoon. Me, I need at least a snack on Friday night or Saturday morning. I’m not made of that strong a metal. I went with the “smoothie and a faux-chicken burger” option. Oh look, it’s time to go to church again.
Via blackbird: Considering wearing this for Pascha – either Saturday night or Sunday day. Maybe, maybe not. Also a to-be-worn-to-a-wedding option.