Friday, July 24, 2009

No home owners here (insert happy song)

Our house sold today. We've been waiting for this for the past 2 years and it's slowly sinking in that the wait is over. I think it might be a sad day if we didn't have something exciting waiting for us. Actually there is a bit of a quiet realization that something good has just officially ended.
It tempers the excitement a little, just enough to be thankful for what was given to us.

I'll miss the sunsets.

The ocean in the backyard and all around.

There won't be any of this where we're going but there will be other things to appreciate. The last few weeks have been really eventful when it comes to formulating plans for our near future. We've been offered a position as caretakers of a property right next to the Monastery. It's a beautiful hollow ("holler" if you're from around there) surrounded by big hills and mountains. Our job will be to mow the lawn and keep the driveway cleared of fallen trees and to be present so others don't feel they can come destroy the houses on the property as the owners live in a different country and will only be around a couple of times a year. It couldn't be more perfect for us. It'll give us time to settle ourselves in the area without making a huge investment too quickly. It'll only take us 3 minutes to get from the house to the Monastery which was one of the things we really wanted. I've also been offered a soapmaking position at the Monastery. I'm really excited about this too.

Apart from all this future-planning business we've been keeping quiet. Matthew has really been enjoying work since the beginning of his second term. The place is still crazy and I would still advise everyone to stay clear of that hospital but he's adjusted to its ways and its patients. He feels he understands their situations better and it makes him appreciate them a lot more. His schedule has been easier on him too with more time off in a row. I've been reading and knitting and baking. All in all we're very pleased at our stay here. It's been good for us. We still haven't seen all that much of the city when it comes to museums or tourist traps but we're fine with that. I think this has been a time of preparation for what's coming .

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yarn Bliss...

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I decided I would spend part of it discovering a beautiful yarn shop. It turned out the shop wasn't as ascetically pleasing as others I have seen but the yarn selection more than made up for the lack of aesthetics. The yarn shop in question is School Products. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves (the pictures aren't that great but look at the stuff on the walls and on the tables!!!!)

I spent an hour looking, touching and imagining what it could all become. They have a lot of Karabella yarns (That's mostly what's on the walls) but then there's weird blends of fibers like cotton/cashmere and other cotton blends I had never seen. They had lots of exotic fibres like yak and camel yarns. They also had some Koigu and other well know yarns but the thing I liked the most was their cones of yarn. You get lots of yarn at a really good price. I could have bought so much stuff but what would be the point of going back if I had taken everything I wanted all at once? And I have to go back. Here's what did come home with me.

Both are 100% merino wool. There is enough grey tweed for 2 sweaters and maybe a few little items, and the light yellow/green yarn is for a secret project. I'll have plenty of that left for different items as well.

Ingrid start saving up yarn money!

Lights, Sights and the Green Lady...

So a few weeks back we were visited by Forrest and Patsy. It was a good time for all of us to get more familiar with the city as we had ambitious plans. The first night was spent discovering Times Square. It was wild.

I'd like to know what the energy consumption is for that area alone!

The next day we decided to go visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We bought our tickets thinking we would hop on the ferry right away. What a surprise when we realized that we couldn't see the end of the waiting line! We seriously thought of returning our tickets and getting our money back but then we decided to wait a while and see how fast/slow the line would go down. It turned out we only had to wait 45 minutes to get on the ferry, I hear some of you saying "only 45 minutes!?" Seriously this was the longest waiting line I have ever seen and when we took bets as to how long we thought we would wait one of us said 3 hours, so 45 minutes was a breeze. The ferry ride reminded me of the Princess of Acadia, the ferry connecting Digby NS to Saint John NB. It was cold, windy and smelled of the ocean - nice. It only took 10 minutes to get to Liberty Island. As we approached we could see the Statue getting bigger and bigger. It was somewhat impressive but I was more charmed by the ride on the water than anything else.

Because we hadn't reserved tickets in advance, we weren't allowed to go to the top of the Statue but that was fine. We walked around the island and got to see the Lady from all angles.

It was interesting to learn that the outer shell of the statue is only the thickness of two pennies! I thought it would be much thicker. The interior is a large spiral that solidifies and supports the shell. Ever wondered what the back end of the Lady looks like?

After the walk we made out way back to the waiting line. We only waited 25 mins that time. The ferry took us to Ellis Island.

The Island served as a federal immigration center between 1892 and 1954. Over 12 million immigrants passed through the island between those years! At the peak of the immigration years, 5,000 to 10,000 people would pass through everyday! Eighty percent of them passed through in a few hours but some remained because of poor health or other issues. Only 2 percent were sent back. They say that about 40 percent of US citizens have an ancestor that entered through Ellis Island. Now the island is a museum. We got to watch a film that was very moving. It was the story of the immigrants that came, told by the said immigrants. They spoke of the hardships endured to get the money for the crossing, the inhuman conditions on the vessels, the fears, the hopes, the loneliness... It's an incredible story.

After reaching the mainland we decided to find some food. We walked with no clear direction or idea of where we were until we came to this -

Ground Zero. We were approched by a yound man who told us about the plans for the new Trade Center. There will be five towers. One of them being built already. You can barely see it in the picture - it looks almost invisible in that light, with the clouds reflecting on it. We found refreashments and continued our walk. We turned a corner and saw this

The Stock Market building. If you ever have any doubts as to which country you are visiting you can always go to Wall street! At that point we were ready to crash so we made our way home. It was a good time. To end are a few more pictures of our day.

This one is made up of three pictures taken and patched together by Matthew. It's the view we had from the ferry. The next one shouldn't need any explanations.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big news

For those of you who haven't heard yet...

Future Group Realty, Ltd., Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada


At least that's what the sign says. We still have to wait until the closing date (July 23rd) to have the money at which point it will be a done deal. I didn't have any strong feelings until I went to the website to see if it did indeed say "sold" and then I saw the pictures of our house and the emotions rose up. So many good memories with so many of you. It feels great to start something new but it comes at a price.

Matthew's Lot in Brooklyn

This is where Matthew works (thanks for the photo Wiki!). His contract began on Feb 9th. The beginnings were downright scary. He presented himself on Feb 9th for what he had been told would be a 15 mins meeting with his supervisor. It turned out we spent the whole day there. Not only was he to meet the supervisor but he was to fill tons of paperwork and redo everything his recruiting agency had required of him which included a physical, a drug screening test and an exam which took about 2 hours! It sounds pretty easy but when you're misdirected each step of the way... (those who live in Greece will certainly understand this way of doing things :) - we were actually told by a friend that New York is very similar to Greece when in comes to paperwork and organization!)

The first official day of his training the teacher said in all seriousness "you HAVE to come to work ON TIME", "you CAN'T take longer breaks than allowed", "you CAN'T talk on your cell phone in front of your client," and "you CAN'T bring your kids to work." The last rule was repeated 3 times during the meeting! That's when we realized that something was very odd and that not all travel nurses are exemplary workers!

This amongst other things, like being told by a nurse who had worked there in the past, that Woodhull was a great place to loose your nursing license, made us a bit nervous! The first few weeks were an adjustment to say the least. Matthew is doing a completely different kind of nursing than what he's used to. The medical tools are different and much less advanced than what he's worked with in the past, most of the patients live in poverty and suffer from various addictions (lots of heroin, cocaine, alcohol) and many also suffer from mental disabilities, and the 'system' doesn't run very efficiently. Still Matthew works well in chaos and now that he's found his bearings, he actually enjoys it quite much. He's liking the cultural diversity as well which was somewhat non-existent in Yarmouth. He is known as "the white boy" at work and he responds to it.

While we're on the topic, we were told a few days ago that his contract was extended which means we'll be here for a while longer! That's what he hoped for, it's much easier for us to stay in one place than to move and go through all the setting up details again. Yay! This will keep us here until sometime in September.

A Paschal Salutation

Christ is Risen!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

West Virginia Mama

I just got back from West Virginia. The trip was a last minute decision but it was a good one. I got to spend a lot of time with friends and to visit the Hermitage of the Holy Cross for a second time.

As we haven't had a chance to explain in detail what our ultimate plans are I'll give y'all an idea of what's been on our minds for a while. This past September, Matthew and I visited the Hermitage as well as a church located in close vicinity to the Monastery. We were told about the two by many people and were looking for a place to settle and this seemed like a possibility so we packed our car and drove the 27 hours it took to get there! We were looking for a place where we could attend more services and give the Church more of a central place in our lives. We weren't disappointed. The monks are welcoming and loving, and the services are incredibly beautiful, prayerful and peaceful. Our experience at the parish church was of a similar nature and so we decided that this was where we wanted to live. Since our house is still for sale we decided to do travel nursing while we wait for the house to be sold. This is how we ended up in Brooklyn.

Back to my trip to WV. Getting there took a bit of patience. The driver of the first bus was apparently new. We didn't realize this, though the screaming we heard from the back of the bus while he was backing up seemed to indicate that he almost hit something/someone and therefore hadn't mastered all the skills necessary for the job. I quickly forgot the incident until an hour later when he stopped the bus, turned toward us and asked us if we knew where the bus station was. We all looked puzzled not really understanding what he meant until he told us he was lost. He called the office but that didn't seem to help. Someone finally figured out where we needed to turn and we got there fairly quickly. I chose to forget that incident as well until later when we realized we were going in circles. It turns out he didn't know how to get to the second station either. People started to get annoyed. He stopped someone on the street and got some directions. He got us there and apologized saying he wasn't given good directions. I decided to forgive him that one too, we all have bad days. Most of the other passengers didn't forgive and became extremely irritated when we realized that he couldn't get us to the third station either. At this point some used more colorful language and got a little louder. We made it to that one too but that meant we were going to be really late and might miss our connections. Thankfully they held the buses for us and we were able to continue the journey with another more seasoned driver. I had to make three connections and spend the hours between 11:30pm and 2:45am in Columbus, Ohio where the lights were way too bright for tired eyes and where we got to listen to a sport news broadcast which repeated itself every hour. It was painful, almost too ridiculous to be true. I finally got on the last bus and got to Huntington at 6:00am after 17 hours of traveling. The moral of the story is that Greyhound buses will get you to your destination but it might not be the most pleasant way to get there.

The week was spent with friends and we got to attend loads of Services, some very special ones too, like the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, a Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, the Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt and the vigil and Vesperal Liturgy of the Feast of Annunciation as well as a tonsure of a monk to the small Schema (stavrophore). The week was jammed pack with spiritual pearls in the forms of services, conversations, gifts. The nature there is infused with prayer and you can feel it. It was an altogether different experience than busy, loud and paved Brooklyn! The only thing missing was Matthew who stayed behind because of his work schedule.

Having spent a wonderful week I decided that I probably should come home. I must admit the thought of staying there crossed my mind more than once but it isn't the time yet. Maybe soon... The trip back wasn't quite as painful but still couldn't be described as pleasant. The important thing is I made it back in one piece.

Here are a few pictures of the trip.

These are some of the buildings. The red building contains a gift shop which sells things that the monks make to support the monastery. There are soaps (bars and liquid, some made using goat milk from their own goats) lotions, lip balms, honey, incense, a DVD produced by the monks on monasticism, books, candles, specialty pastries, CDs... I spent a bit of money in there.

This other building contains the shipping office as well as the incense making workshop and rooms for monks and visitors.

This is the newest building which is not completely finished yet. It is for Bishop George of Mayfield who now resides at the Monastery. This house will also be used for visitors.

This house is attached to another bigger building comprising offices and a library. (This picture was taken by one of the monks.)

These are the new baby goats! They're so cute! Too bad they'll grow up to be pretty ugly and dumb.

This is Myrtle. She is a new addition this year and will provide the Monastery with milk. They use the goat milk for drinking, making cheese and making soap but they wanted to have a different type of milk as well to make different cheeses. Myrtle and I became friends really quickly (I did bribe her with a dog treat!)

This is a closer shot. She was quite fond of the camera.

This is a sign taped to the Greyhound station in Huntington. I couldn't resist taking a picture.
Some things are just plain silly. I thought of asking the clerk what would happen if someone was to actually walk into the station with a hood and sunglasses, but I refrained.