Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bridget and the Bells and Do I Have to Clean My House

Yes, here she is, about to be in mortal peril -- or at least in danger of being somewhat mashed. It all ended happily, though. Oh, in case you are wondering, yes, those are sawed off gas cylinder bells. They are all the rage on the BC coast, doncha know, and they sound pretty decent.

Well, I am very pleased to have gotten some great feedback about Egeria from several friends and aquaintences recently (Calgary, Port Townsend, Atlanta, -- you know who you are!) It seems the idea will be a hit, and the technical part of the website is nearly done. We just have to finish designing it and then go through the testing to make sure it all works well. We are postponing our holidays till October, partly so that we can have the site up as soon as possible. So with that, it's time for another installment of:

Egeria FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)!

I'm fairly tuckered out right now (husband away on Group of 12 trip, me with three kids, aaaaah!) so I will just tackle a short one.

Do I have to clean my house? How perfect does it have to be?

Okay, this for some reason is a bit of an anxiety for some people. I personally like to clean my house quite thoroughly before I go away anyway, because it's much nicer to come home to than otherwise. Also we often have housesitters, and we make sure everything is clean for them, or as clean as we can manage will three little kids! If you've ever house-sat for me, you won't bust me, right? The house is always super clean, right? Ha ha.

Naturally, people imagine that to exchange homes you have to make it absolutely sparkle. I would certainly err on that side rather than on the side of *ick*. You want your guest to have a pleasant experience, and you expect the same when you are at their place. So here is how it breaks down:

Option A) Elbow Grease. Clean that house top to bottom by the sweat of your brow. And, er, the grease of your elbows. Side benefits: it's character building, it costs nothing, and you will come home to a house that is unusually shiny even after your guest has been there. I mean, you might even finally clean your oven and that grim area between the fridge and the other thing.

Option B) Hire Someone. Yes, for some of us, this is unthinkable, but you need to consider some factors: How busy are you? What is your time worth? How important is it to present your house well? If it is important, and your time is worth more to you than whatever a cleaner makes per hour, then it might make sense to get help. You will still come out way ahead not paying hotel costs.

Option C) Negotiate. Now, this is a bit risky, and I would suggest it only if you and your exchanging partners have kids and therefore 'understand' one another -- but you could have an "I won't kill myself cleaning if you don't" type of arrangement. You should still have the place clean and tidy, but maybe the oven can wait.
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our Church Camp Chapel at Seven Springs, Vancouver Island

Well, this doesn't have much to do with Egeria, (or does it!) but I thought our camp chapel was beautiful. I didn't get a night shot this year -- with those fairy lights shining, mingling with stars and sparks from the campfire -- but I'm sure someone has some . . .My youngest daughter Bridget (now 13 months) was baptized here in the summer of 2007 by our dear friend and fellow Victoria priest, Fr Kosta Kaltsides. According to the laws of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, that makes Bridget Greek. Ha ha. Well, her middle name is Antigone, so that works out.

I have a photo of her nearly getting offed my those bells in the left corner. I was so focussed on getting a nice picture of her with the bells (than which she is not larger, and between two of which she was) that I didn't notice that they had begun to swing more and more, and those things are heavy. I suddenly realized what was happening, dropped the camera and nabbed her at the last second. Oops.

Okay, here's an amazing passage from Egeria's Travels. Straightforward -- she apparently was not much of a stylist-- but what she says is just amazing.

. . .in Capernaum the house of the prince of the apostles has been made into a church, with its original walls still standing. It is where the Lord healed the paralytic. There is also the synagogue where the Lord cured a man possessed by the devil. The way in is up many stairs, and it is made of dressed stone.

Not far away from there are some stone steps where the Lord stood.

And in the same place by the sea is a grassy field with plenty of hay and many palm trees. By them are seven springs, each flowing strongly. And this is the field where the Lord fed the people with the five loaves and the two fishes. In fact the stone on which the Lord placed the bread has now been made into an altar.

The footnote, citing Prof. Schneider, says that this stone is 'probably the one presently under the altar in the fifth-century Church of the Multiplying '. It also notes that six of the seven springs exist today but are now dry.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

That bird again, and What is Hospitality Exchange?

Right, more behind the scenes stuff. I love pictures of desk chaos, and this is one of my favourites. I bought this book on the Fayum portraits at the Art Institute of Chicago a couple of years ago when I was in town for a liturgical music conference (PSALM -- the Pan Orthodox Society for the Advancement of Litugical Music -- yep, it's a mouthful). The Art Institute was terrific, and I had the absolute bliss of arriving there alone on a very quiet day, accountable to no one but God for over five hours. Aaaaaaaah. Anyway, you can spot that Egeria bird (falcon? parakeet?) both in the portrait and in my fumbling beginnings of a design. I love the thing Kandinsky says, something like "Glory to the palette for the delight it brings, more beautiful a work indeed than many a work of art".

I would like to take this opportunity to mention, mercenary that I am, that I paid no money to stay in Chicago because I was staying with friends. Hmmm -- remind you of anything? Orthodox home exchange, for example? Enjoying the company of old (or perhaps brand new) friends, glasses of wine, exchanging news, tucking into a hearty meal, prepared with love and plenty of feta?

Which leads me quite nicely to a discussion of hospitality exchange, another feature of our soon-to-be home exchange club. There are a couple of ways this can work. One, straightforward hospitality exchange, where you want to go to say, Paris. You log in to Egeria and ask members in Paris if you can come and stay with them. They say sure, bonjour and bienvenue. Then in exchange they get to come and stay with you sometime. Or their friend does, or student-age kid, or whatever. That's hospitality exchange. The other type is sometimes called B&B, which is very much like it sounds. You can offer B&B to other members not in exchange for hospitality from them, but simply for a donation, or just to be a swell person. Most likely you will charge, since you have after all paid for your membership. But it's a nice way to share your community, country, neighbourhood and parish with other Orthodox who want or need to travel to where you are.

So when you become a member of Egeria you will have many choices: simultaneous home exchange, hospitality exchange, B&B, or nonsimultaneous exchange, which simply means that you and your exchanging partner have somewhere else to be -- a second home, vacation home, other plans, etc while your home is used by a member. We are considering whether to include holiday rentals, which is a little more full-on commercial, probably more than we are entirely happy with. We don't want the site overwhelmed with posts that just charge for accommodation, since that is pretty much the opposite of the spirit of home exchange, which is about trading, sharing and building community. On the other hand, maybe you want to be able to see what is out there and available to rent in your dream location? Share your thoughts and comments!
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