Monday, April 17

Weekend Wrap-up

I know I didn’t do a weekend wrap-up last weekend, and I’m not going to try to recreate it now. I will say only that we played some music with Mike the drummer and had dinner with B and J, two friends we don’t see often enough. I used the barbecue for the first time this year to grill up some lamb. It was good.

Not much to say about this weekend (which isn’t over yet). I won’t celebrate Easter until next weekend, so there’s no big dinner or family gathering to report. Joe and I visited a nursery out in Wayland to try to find a redbud tree (cercis canadensis) for the yard. We argued a bit about where to put it, but didn’t find what we were looking for. I got some pansies for the yard. I usually don’t plant annuals this early in the season, but I guess I felt inspired by the beautiful summer-like weather we had on Saturday.

Saturday night, Joe and Mike played at a Jamaican restaurant in Worcester. I was supposed to join them, but I’ve been a bit under the weather since Friday. Nothing serious, just a sore throat. I stayed home and watched The Ten Commandments (the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille version with Charlton Heston). Joshua (John Derek) was super hot back then.

I dragged myself out of bed Sunday morning to go to church, something I haven’t done in a long time. For Greeks (and all Eastern Orthodox), it was Palm Sunday. I wanted to get some palms for the house, since I have them tucked behind all the icons. That’s the power of tradition, I guess. I went to Saint Nectarios in Roslindale, since it’s only about 10 minutes away. I tried to time it so that I caught the tale end of the liturgy. I ended up arriving before the Eucharist and the church was packed, which meant I had to stand through the remainder of the service and three sermons. The first was in Greek and had to do with receiving the Eucharist. I found it interesting that the priest felt compelled to point out that you cannot receive Holy Communion if you have your tongue pierced. Who knew?

The second sermon was in English about the recently publicized Gospel of Judas and how the Gnostics were heretics. I thought that was pretty amusing, since most of the parishioners wouldn’t be able to explain the difference between Gnosticism and Orthodoxy if their lives depended on it. Those doctrinal controversies just don’t excite people the way they did back in the second and third centuries.

The second sermon in Greek was delivered by a rather flamboyant deacon. I didn’t understand all of it, but got most of it. It’s really not worth recounting, other than to say that it was pretty conservative, dogmatic, and nationalistic. He too mentioned the Gospel of Judas. He also made a joke about being visited by a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I think it went over my head.

The worst part, however, was that I forgot that many of the Greek churches have stopped giving out palm fronds and have switched to bunches of laurel, which is more consistent with the practice in Greece. When I was a kid in Lynn, for weeks leading up to Palm Sunday, all the Sunday School classes would gather in one of the classrooms to make crosses out of the palm fronds. As our little fingers folded away, we were supposed to work in meditative silence, but we all chattered away. I don’t remember what we used to talk about. Nothing profound or religious, that’s for sure. The priest’s wife—Greek priests are allowed to marry—used to scold us for talking, but we didn’t care. I used to think of all that cross-making as forced labor, even though I enjoyed it. I still remember how to fold a palm frond into a cross. I guess if I want palms next year, I’ll have to go to a Western church for their Palm Sunday.

For the remainder of the day, I worked out in the yard. I did some weeding and cleared away a lot of the dead growth from this past winter. I trimmed some roses, which was a pain, but I’m glad it’s done. I planted the pansies and cleaned up a little after the carpenters who are repairing the front porch. For dinner, Joe made homemade gnocchi and baked some semolina bread, which was lovely. Later we watched Before Sunrise (1995) with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

Today (Monday) Joe and I will visit my aunt Bessie. She’s my mom’s oldest sister. She’s in her eighties, but is in reasonably good health. I’ve been promising her a visit for some time. We told her we’d take her to lunch. My parents may join us as well. I also plan to bring the tape recorder to do a bit of oral history. I want to ask her some questions about her parents (my grandparents). She loves telling stories and she has a lot to share. I’m sure there are many I’ve never heard.

She also has a photograph of herself as an infant with my grandmother holding her. The last time I saw it was two Thanksgivings ago. I usually pick her up and bring her to my parents’ house in Lynn. I had seen it as a child and asked her about it, so she took it out to show me. I noticed something very peculiar about my grandmother, but I’ll wait to talk about that when I post the picture, which I’m hoping to be able to do if my aunt lets me borrow it to have it scanned.


Blogger Ryan said...

hope u had a good weekend!

6:28 AM  
Blogger The Persian said...

I haven't been to church in so long, I can't say I miss it, nor do I feel the need to go on religious holidays.. I'm going to hell most likely.
I am dieing to know how the priest worked in the bit about the tongue piercing, unbelievable.

Homeade Gnocchi? My Nonna, oh you brought back memories of her Gnocchi, of course these days I don't eat them, but there were just my most favorite thing she made (followed by her Polenta)

I am planning on making a film about my grandmother (the living one) in which she reflects on her life and experience very soon. It's wonderful that you are going to record your aunt, preserving her stories, especially those of your grandparents.


8:26 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

Nice post and sounds like a relaxing weekend. I too managed to get my butt out into the yard and mow it and pull up about a gazillion weeds that were starting to take over. The tounge piercing thing is a trip. Didn't really do anything around here this weekend except catch stuff up and BBQ last night and still running round in circles with Seeker LOL.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Fresh gnocchi are a joy. My younger daughter used to make home-made gnocchi fairly regularly and I miss them now that she's working in New York City.

11:02 PM  

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