Monday, November 26, 2007

Pelagia's Entryway Redesign

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Pelagia has been working for the last month or two on redesigning the entryway to our apartment. Originally, it was my “office” space, but there was so little to recommend it (no windows, no natural light, constant interruption from the door), that we moved it into the extra room (the guest room). This left Pelagia with a space to redesign.

A practical problem which needed a solution was this: The dog, Argos, is still a puppy, and he hasn’t quite gotten over the fact that there’s also a cat here, Mo, so the dog constantly torments the cat. Pelagia decided, therefore, to build a cat refuge. So she built these benches (complete with drawers underneath for storage) and the overhead cat refuge from an old wardrobe (which was too big to get rid of) and an old wooden ladder she found. Total cost: $0!

(You notice the lattice on the ladder, which allows the cat to scurry up there.)

Pelagia is the master at finding old things on the street and seeing a new use for them. She also found the mirror (with lights) that you see in the second photo. She fixed it all up, made the lights and wired them in, and voila! The area right around the door had been very dark, but this mirror/light combination brightened the whole area.

She also borrowed a friend’s sewing machine and made the cushions for the bench. And all this in her free time, when she wasn’t painting and doing other jobs for people.

That’s about it for the news here, so there hasn’t been much excitement to post on the blog. Pelagia keeps getting job offers and I’m still translating and trying to read for my dissertation. That’ll be pretty much it until we leave for Serbia in about two weeks.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Byzantine Chant

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Last Sunday, we went to the western edge of Thessaloniki to the old Byzantine church of the 12 Apostles, which was founded around 1320 by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Niphon. Our Byzantine chant teacher, Manoulis Yiannopoulos, is the Protopsaltis (head chanter) there, and he has been asking us to come visit him there every since we started out lessons about 2 months ago. The church is located just inside the western edge of the old walls of the city (see the third photo). Of course, today, the city is much bigger.

The church is amazing – including some of the original, beautiful mosaics inside. Our plan is to go back next Sunday – if I do my homework, I’m supposed to help sing the Great Doxology in the Plagal of Fourth mode.

Besides that, there’s not much exciting happening. We’ve both been very busy working. The academic year has finally started, and I managed to get all my paperwork done for enrollment, forming a dissertation committee, etc.

I’ve been blessed to work on translating a new book about Elder Paisios. Elder Paisios is EXTREMELY popular here in Northern Greece. Even Greeks who have little or no association with the Church know and revere him. They’ll say things like, “A couple of my friends knew him and they’re sure he’s a saint.” The book, “The Life of Elder Paisios the Athonite,” is a big one – about 700 pages long. I’m doing about 50 pages. I’ve heard that it’s the definitive Elder Paisios biography, and I’m sure it will be very popular in the US once it’s published. Several of the Americans here are working on it – there’s a real push to get it to the printers ASAP. To whet your appetite, I just translated this quote, which I thought was good, and which I will leave you with for the moment:

He [Elder Paisios] dealt with each soul with discernment, avoiding extremes and partiality, and handed out the appropriate medicine. For the same problem in different people, he gave different solutions. He was not a steam-roller. He said to someone: “Whatever I say to you, I say it for you. And if you say it to someone else, it won’t help; in fact, it will hurt. Watch out for this.” This was the main reason he did not like to be tape-recorded. He knew the disposition, the receptivity, and the resistance of each person, and he spoke to them accordingly.

Friday, November 02, 2007


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On Friday, we drove down to the city of Volos, which is approximately 2.5 hours south of Thessaloniki, on the Aegean Sea. See the map here.

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I’ve been doing some translating work for the Diocese’s Academy of Theological Studies, and we went to meet with the people there. We were also fortunate to have a meeting with the bishop of the diocese, Metropolitan Ignatios.

We arrived at the Metropolis around 11 and got a tour of the facilities, which are very impressive. The Metropolis (which houses the Academy) has a state-of-the-art conference center and nice library.

The first photo is of the outside of the Metropolis, which is located outside the city, up on the hill. The second and third photos were taken from outside there, looking down on the city of Volos. (Unfortunately, it was rainy, overcast day.)

After meeting with the bishop at 12, we were then taken downtown for lunch on the waterfront with people I’ve been working with at the Academy. The last photo was taken as we walked along the waterfront to the restaurant. In the photo are Pelagia and Anastasia, who works at the Academy and is also the daughter of my PhD advisor, Petros Vassiliadis. In the background is a church dedicated to Sts Constantine and Helen.

After a leisurely lunch and then coffee, we headed back to Thessaloniki around 5:00. The trip was very successful and, we hope, there will be a lot more work out of this connection. Thank God!