Category Archives: quotes

Moving toward civilization.

Today was my house blessing of Theophany. I was glad it had been delayed a few weeks after the feast on January 6th, because I wanted to put the house in order beforehand, especially the construction/storage areas that were still in process until a few weeks ago.

So as I was getting things spiffed up for today’s event, I thought, this is the time to share a few carefully chosen images, for those — maybe only a very few? — of my readers who are interested in the indoor physical landscape of my days.

My total remodeling project is not done, but nothing stops me now from living fully in my three new rooms — that is, once I unpack and figure out how to arrange things. I’ve bought a few pieces of furniture and have taken a carload of stuff to the thrift stores, but there is still a lot of processing and figuring out to do. I ordered a cozy armchair that won’t be here until about Pascha (May), and I can’t finalize the arrangement of the morning/sewing room until I get that.

Above is a photo of the morning room from a year ago, and there are lots of Before and In-Process pictures in a post aptly named: Hodgepodge. I don’t intend to show any of the remaining hodgepodge or mess. Instead, I picked out a few tidier scenes or items to focus on.

Above, you can see through the doorway at left into my bedroom. My goddaughter Mary’s father A. made the cabinet doors for me and trimmed out everything. It was so heartening to have someone who was enthusiastic about doing the work and even communicated with me about it! Not to mention the beauty of the result. He had no part in the work that I complain about farther down.

I’m sure I’ll be rearranging sewing things again and again, but for now, I have all my fabric and projects in the cabinets in the proper room. I did remove five boxes full of fabric from my stash, which I will give away, but I kept all of my Waldorf doll supplies. And all of the luscious fabric I brought home from India.

The cluttered environment has disturbed me inwardly, I always knew that, but when I managed to open up floor space and dresser tops, and whittle down the mass of unpacked boxes to take up less and less space in corners… why, I felt like a new person, becoming civilized! It was very calming.

At right is an unfinished area of my bedroom, which had to get repaired after pulling out an old built-in cabinet. There was a nail still sticking out so I put up this hanging I found in a box, that I made eons ago. I still have a lot of painting to do (I should say, for someone to do) in my room, and a few other rooms of the house.

The new bathroom is pleasantly boring in beiges and white, tile and granite. I wanted it that way so I could have colorful towels and shower curtain. That storage cabinet at left I found at Home Depot and bought another one for the master bath.

I have so many interesting little tables that I am fond of for various reasons. This one is a hundred years old at least, and used to live at my husband’s family’s summer cabin. I have never known it as the patio table it was obviously designed to be; it always sits along a wall as a shelf, and its known to be wobbly on its own. But I will probably keep on keeping it, at least while I am in a big house.

My closet got refurbished, and I added a little dressing table to replace what got lost when the two rooms were linked by a door in that spot. It was so long between the time I made decisions and the completion of those shelves, I don’t remember how I ended up with melamine, which is really cheap. So I bought a piece of plastic to put on the dressing table top, to protect it from getting wrecked. The next picture shows the view from the bathroom.

On the dressing table right now I have a Valentine’s Day card I gave to my husband a really long time ago; and an icon of St. Porphyrios.

This is the one bank of drawers I have in the closet. Because it has nice drawer pulls it looks upscale and makes the closet feel fancy — until I want to open the bottom drawer, which as you can see sits right on the floor. So that doesn’t work very well. The shelving units didn’t fit nicely in the crooked old closet space and there are shims and gaps everywhere. Like a 1-2″ space at the ceiling, big enough to collect dust and spiders, but too small to store anything — except for our entire vinyl collection! Maybe I will find some other belongings that are conveniently short and flat, that need storing.

I have oh so many paintings, pictures and other beloved items that eventually I will find new places for, on the walls of several rooms, after the painting and furniture arranging are complete. I’ll leave you with one that I had forgotten about, a little Peruvian farm scene made in Peru, a style of tapestry that was sold in a local shop in a past era. One more thing I am looking forward to incorporating in my newly civilized, homey decor.

“It is the main earthly business of a human being to make his home, and the immediate surroundings of his home, as symbolic and significant to his own imagination as he can.”

-G.K. Chesterton

Rocking then and now.

“Americans have a taste for…rocking-chairs. A flippant critic might suggest that they select rocking-chairs so that, even when they are sitting down, they need not be sitting still. Something of this restlessness in the race may really be involved in the matter; but I think the deeper significance of the rocking-chair may still be found in the deeper symbolism of the rocking-horse. I think there is behind all this fresh and facile use of wood a certain spirit that is childish in the good sense of the word; something that is innocent, and easily pleased.”

-G.K. Chesterton in What I Saw in America, 1922

This is the rocking chair I love best, because it is mine, and I have a lot of history with it. Before I was even engaged to be married, I visited the summer cabin of my boyfriend’s family, where this chair sat against one wall of the living room of “La Casita.” Only a big teddy bear sat in it back then, perched on the dome of the cushion whose springs had long ago sprung out of any human’s comfort zone.

And so it remained for decades, until the cabin was sold and we acquired the chair for this house, and had it refurbished. I just ran across a remnant of the upholstery fabric we chose, quite bright compared to the faded seat that still wears it.

I’ve owned three other rocking chairs over the years, and none was as satisfactory as the current one. The first was a platform rocker that had belonged to another grandma of my husband; the whole chair was too big for me. I nursed all my babies in that chair, and spent quite a lot of time in it over many years, filling in the extra space and propping up my arms with pillows.

Another rocker came from one of the grandmas. It had a nice feel but was unbearably and incurably squeaky. And then there was the one found in the neighborhood with a “FREE” tag on it. How could I not bring it home? But it didn’t fit in with our decor, however you would describe that, and had too big a rocking-footprint for any room in the house. Out it went again.

I’ve realized by this time that on my own I am not much of a rocker, no matter how romantic I feel about the chairs that help one do it. Even though in many pictures of me opening Christmas presents, I am sitting in one.

As I recall, some babies like being rocked, and some don’t. I wonder if a liking for rocking as an infant is predictive of certain personality traits later in life? I don’t know if my mother rocked me, but my father built this rocking horse for us, which I have no memory of. Maybe I wasn’t into rocking on it, either! It looks like it might have required some skill to ride and shoot at the same time.

I wonder if people who use rocking chairs when they are restless,
or to rock away their worries,
are doing more rocking these days?

2021 – The Year of Dostoevsky

Today Nun Cornelia has kindly given us a reading recommendation in her article, “Time to Read (or Reread) Dostoevsky.” Her reason for putting forth the idea at this time is partly that today is the 140th anniversary of the death of Feodor Dostoevsky. And not only that, but 2021 marks 200 years since his birth in 1821.

Even if you haven’t read his works, you are likely to recognize his name as a writer, whose skill Sister Cornelia describes: “The details of all his characters, their mannerisms, their actions, their thoughts and words, even their names, all paint individual pictures of the human condition in relation to God and the devil—pictures that don’t fade with time, and are applicable in any culture.”

In a short essay she gives details about his childhood and temperament as described by his parents (hot-headed and cheeky), and his “morose” youth, during which he spent time in military service and then began to study literature.

“His compassion for humanity led him to socialist circles, which, as he would eventually understand, were in fact seething with anti-humanity. These attempts at social reform would also end in failure for him, and he nearly lost his life in front of a firing squad. His sentence was commuted at the last minute, and he was sent to Siberia for prison and then exile. In prison he was respected by all, but at the same time considered a dangerous revolutionary and kept in shackles and manacles for his entire sentence.”

The upbringing he was given, and the era he was given to live and suffer in, certainly contributed to his great soul; and because his writing “could not be separated in any way from his own deep convictions, his books lead us in a mysterious way to those deep convictions.”

Sister Cornelia details some of the many ways that Dostoevsky suffered, and the way his wife suffered with him for his sins and weaknesses. She ends with thanks for all his works that she hopes we will read, and read again.

“But neither can we forget that an underlying quality present in him from childhood was also key to producing the literary heritage that we have today: stubbornness. Through all his failures—and apparently, he took critical failure very hard as his epileptic fits were brought on by them—he never gave up his calling and forged ahead with novels that change people’s lives.”

At the bottom of the article are links to several others on Feodor Dostoevsky. You can find it all here.

The usual blessed everydayness.

My beach visits are challenging my writing skills, no doubt about that! The seashore and its constant change, my being on The Edge of such a vast expanse of water and sky, caressed or buffeted by forces of wind and waves… it’s thrilling. I could write that sentence every time I go, but it would convey sameness, when there is nothing the same, ever.

I was excited yesterday to be going when it was a minus tide, a term I hadn’t even heard until a month ago. These events seem to happen mostly at night; I hope to learn more about why that is, when I get the books I ordered online and from the library, about waves, tides, beaches and seashores.

Yesterday’s minus tide was at about 3:00 p.m. I was surprised at all of the puddles and pools in various places on the beach, not just at the north end where the rocks hide creatures. The receded tide revealed a wide expanse of flat beach that shone like glass.

Great heaps of every kind of sea plant, vegetable, and kelp had been left in swaths on the shore. I wished I had someone with me who knew the names of everything! And if I had thought of it, I could have taken home enough to make a giant kettle of seaweed soup.

One specimen of Flustrellidra was floating in a tidepool. I found that name while searching last night for the name of a seaweed that I did eat when I got home.

Floating Flustrellidra

In those rocky pools I didn’t see any hermit crabs or sea stars; only a few mussels clinging under rocks. My foot slipped a bit when I was looking down into the water — I think that was when I was still wearing my sandals, because I thought I would be steadier with them on — and when I shifted my gaze to the surface of the rocks on which I stood, I realized that they were all green, that is, where they weren’t covered with black seaweed hanging down like greasy hair. So everything I might grasp with hand or foot was slimy. I soon left that area.

One thing always fun is the way the texture of the sand underfoot changes every few yards. Where it was gravelly I sank down mid-calf; a short distance beyond, the surface was firm. My feet standing on that hard and flat “patio” were red and seemingly shrunken from their chilly bath.

It was when I was walking back from the rocks that the happiness peaked. I thought of my late husband and wished we could be walking in the waves together. Maybe I thought of him because I had been listening to The Aviator on the drive out, thinking with Innokenty about his finally having lost the only one who had shared the era and experiences of his previous life, who also remembered the important things. And there was this:

“Now, as life is settling into a routine little by little, happiness shows through everything, through the most common everydayness, no matter what I do. Everydayness is essentially happiness… finally, to simply live.”

As I was splashing through the shallow water it occurred to me that my husband does actually share this happiness with me. There is one happiness that is a gift from God. It is the same reality that “shows through” whenever and wherever it happens, and reveals itself as being unbounded by time. A gift of spiritual sunshine that warms the soul in such a way that it’s obvious nothing is lacking. Mere existence is huge and blessed, the moment fills everything, and all the happinesses that have ever been are in that fullness.

I found several things on the beach. First, two big sand dollars. The first one was almost perfect. It had only a little chip on the edge, and I put it carefully in my bag. Later, just after passing a very young family with a preschooler, who were playing in the sand, I found another dollar, truly pristine, and I offered it to them. From the looks on their faces, they had never seen one before.

A beautiful, snack sized piece of seaweed fell out of a wave on to the sand, and I put it in my bag, too. You can see it further down.

And then — I found this dolly.

“She actually likes being tossed in the waves,” I thought, when I saw the expression on her face. She is some surfer girl! I dropped her in my bag, too, without the slightest doubt that it was the right thing to do. I would take her home and clean the sand out of her hair….

I haven’t managed to clean her hair thoroughly; I don’t know if the plants are attached to her or just tangled in her tresses. After seeing how integrated with marine life she has become, I began to wonder if she belongs to the sea now. Is the missing half of her hair currently in suspension with the other microparticles of plastic that live there?

She seems a kindred spirit, and for the time being she sits on  my computer table reminding me of our common love for the ocean waves. I need to give her a name. Any ideas?

The piece of “lettuce” I collected, I washed very well at home, and thought I had identified it. I ate it raw in the evening — it was rubbery and fairly tasteless — and then searched in vain online for a name for it. I think it’s probably a red or brown algae. One article I found last week said that all the seaweeds are edible, and last night I read some people saying that you should be careful not to eat too much of any kind. Not too much danger of that in my case!

When I have published this post, I plan to add it to my new Page tabbed at the top of my site, titled Sea Log. I’m glad for the virtual companionship of any of you who would like to share in my seashore explorations. May they long continue, Please God.