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Special Sunday

This afternoon, or perhaps tomorrow morning depending, I head off to the long-awaited iconography workshop. I’ll be staying at a monastery for nearly a week. Though I will take the laptop, I have no idea whether there’s wifi in the vicinity. Under the circumstances this is a question I’d feel really off-point asking.

So if I don’t blog until next weekend, don’t worry. I haven’t been kidnapped by agents of the Deep State or taken up into an alien spacecraft and subjected to anal probes (but I repeat myself). I’m just studying icons and enjoying away-time, courtesy of the retreat center and you (you know who you are) who got me there.

I do hope to have one more post today before I go. We’ll see.


This is already a very special Sunday. Ava went to Furrydoc’s Doggie Hotel yesterday and it’s just me and the cat. While the cat can be a pretty big PITA, she merely thinks she’s a dog, entitled to all the privileges, begging, and clinginess of caninity. On some level she still realizes she’s a typical feline whose ultimate purpose in life is to trip me and kill me so she can get her morning food 10 steps before I reach her bowl. When she begs for snacks I can ignore her, knowing she’ll haughtily turn her nose up at them if I comply. When she demands petting, I can ignore her, knowing she might take a bite out of me if I don’t perform precisely to her unstated requirements.

Ava is a Dog in Spades. As I’ve mention before, she’s the most intense, needy, and intrusive dog I’ve ever had. Love her dearly, but when she’s around it’s simply impossible not to be aware of her at every moment. Do housework? She follows my every move, a desperate look in her eye. Get slightly peeved and mutter a bad word (not even directed at her)? Judging by her response, you’d think I was Yahweh one of his “kill ’em all including their babies, livestock, and pets” moods. Walk vaguely in the direction of the back door? OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY, IT MUST BE WALKIES! (she exclaims as she flies repeatedly into the air). God forbid she should actually spot me packing for a week away. Her terror of abandonment becomes positively Victorian in its melodrama.

Yeah. Love her. But a day sans Ava is a day of oh so much peace. Yesterday it was a day of household work performed at leisure without my emotional four-legged shadow. Today … I sit. I read. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be out the door at 8:30 a.m., leash in hand, dog bouncing like a jack-in-the-box.

Glorious. But it takes some getting used to. Usually, just about the time I’ve finally achieved satori (i.e. the point of not thinking every five minutes “what will Ava do?”) … Ava comes back from Furrydoc’s.

Still, I’ll take what I can get. And what I get right now is a morning of quiet reading with a big stack of library books.

The neighbors and The Wandering Monk will be keeping an eye on my corner of the real world in my absence. I was thinking about inviting either Silver or He Who Fakes It Well to blog in my stead (and hey, you two, you ARE invited if you’re so inclined!), but both are in busy stressful times now, so I won’t ask. If they blog, it’ll be a bonus blessing. If not … I’ll be back.


  1. Pat
    Pat June 4, 2017 11:07 am

    The workshop should be interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve learned, and how you will apply it.

    I was without a computer for a couple of days, so had some quiet-time of my own without worldly interference, tho’ it wasn’t monastery-induced. But your time will be quieter, I’m sure (a motorcycle meet-up was in the area around here).

    Can the cat take care of herself?

  2. Claire
    Claire June 4, 2017 11:18 am

    Pat — I agree that quiet + motorcycle rally is … interesting.

    I’ll leave the cat everything she needs to survive. But people will also be available to look in on her, just in case.

  3. larryarnold
    larryarnold June 4, 2017 12:00 pm

    Enjoy your vacation!

    Even though I suspect wifi may be available, given that icon workshops seem to be a big thing for modern monasteries* and we probably won’t go into withdrawal before Wednesday, it’s a week for Claire.

    Earth will abide.

    * “monastery icon workshop” gets 450,000+ hits, and the ones I skimmed seem to have websites, social media, and email.

  4. Claire
    Claire June 4, 2017 12:36 pm

    “Earth will abide.”

    LOL! And possibly even thrive.

    Funny, I never searched on those terms. I do know the monastery I’m going to has all three modern amenities you mention. My main communication with them has been via email. But I almost hope there isn’t wifi for retreatants and class attendees. It just seems so not in the spirit of the business, you know?

  5. Joel
    Joel June 4, 2017 1:44 pm

    Enjoy! Bring me back an icon of an Orthodox saint who gazes upon his eternity in heavenly bliss with all the joy of a guy about to die by torture…

    Actually, do more cosmic dogs. I never got Orthodox icons at all. If it makes them that unhappy, why do they keep at it?

  6. jed
    jed June 4, 2017 2:02 pm

    I hope you have a nice relaxing and productive time. Part of the value of it is the unplugging, I think, so I hope you do just that. After you’ve finished Joel’s request, can you do one of Geoffrey Lebowski?

    > If it makes them that unhappy, why do they keep at it?

    It’s meditative, ya know? Pondering the wretched state of your sinfulness makes you more appreciative of penance.

  7. Claire
    Claire June 4, 2017 2:16 pm

    LOL, jed and Joel. I agree. Those folks in icons always do look absolutely miserable, don’t they? Either that or terribly put-upon.

    Iconography classes (and to the best of my knowledge this is standard procedure) are set up to have all the students do exactly the same icon, chosen by the teacher. Individual paintings for each student, but all alike. Self-expression apparently isn’t the thing here. 🙂 And that’s okay because this is a good way to learn technique and basic background in iconography.

    We just got the word the other day that the icon chosen for this class is the Holy Face of Jesus. Oops. Tried to post a link but it didn’t show what I intended. If you search “Holy Face of Jesus ICON” you’ll see. Be sure to include the word icon, otherwise you’ll get lots of Shroud of Turin pix.

    That wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it’s an interesting and non-sappy image with strength and character. So should be interesting.

    Cosmic dogs will come later. Lebowski? Now that opens up entirely new possibilities …

  8. jed
    jed June 4, 2017 2:41 pm

    > Holy Face of Jesus ICON

    Oh, I like the Novgordian one, “The Saviour Not Made by Hands”. Or maybe the Ieron Mandylion, which looks like a Persian Pirate. “Bridegroom” or “Enthroned”? Gosh, lots to choose from. In some of those, it’d be easy to substitute Mr. Spock holding a tri-corder, though I’m not sure what you’d do for the halo. Maybe use the deflector shield?

  9. Claire
    Claire June 4, 2017 7:44 pm

    Yeah, I like the Novgordian one and the “Persian Pirate,” also. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the chosen image is one of those.

    But Spock definitely presents more possibilities than The Dude.

    Speaking of which, I watched a terrific documentary last week: For the Love of Spock. I was never a Star Trek fan and I loved it. Serious fans should not miss it. It’s both about Leonard Nemoy the person and Spock the character. But also about the cultural phenomenon. And … well, it’s just good. Made by Adam Nemoy, Leonard’s son.

    Now … I meant to make a second past today and never did get to it. Not because I was too busy, but because I was so enjoying not being busy.

    Hey. Vacation!

  10. Tahn
    Tahn June 5, 2017 12:55 pm

    Have a fine time and enjoy Claire. As for the face of “Jesus”, just substitute Tom Jefferson.

  11. coyote huibbard
    coyote huibbard June 5, 2017 10:07 pm

    Cant art for crap, but if i wanted to hang at a Monastery for a week, I would be here…
    Local small mom and pop store managed from time to time get all the offerings from them.
    I once asked the store manager years back about the Chimay reserve since they had others from them, and he said he would be on it, and he did.

    And i imbibed.

    Sadly, they were leasing the space for the last 25 years, and last year were not renewed the lease. Owners thought they could run a local grocery the same except they did not understand that a store manager that walks the floor and actually engages you for feedback meant you had a customer base.

    They were more expensive then, and the same now. I shopped there however, because it was a local business, but had folks that understood community engagement and i did not mind supporting them.

    Today hes subdividing the building hoping to rent out the other half to make up for the empty parking lot.

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