Sunday, March 27, 2016

Krishti u ngjall! Vërtetë u ngjall!

(This post has appeared on this blog twice previously, first on April 12, 2009, and again on April 5, 2015. The only change I would make to the original is that nowadays we attend a Methodist Church.)

The title of this post is in old-style Albanian, the language my wife’s parents spoke.

Every year, on a certain day, when Mom and Pop were still alive, we would call them in Florida or they would call us in Nebraska or New York or Florida or Georgia (we moved a lot) and whichever party said “Hello?” heard the words, “Krishti u ngjall!”

The response was always immediate from the other person: “Vërtetë u ngjall!”

Phonetically, it sounded something like this:

KRISH-tee oong-ee-AHL! vair-TET oong-ee-AHL!

What a strange thing to do, you might be thinking.

Not at all. If you’re curious what those strange phrases might mean, here is an English translation: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

The day, of course, was Easter Sunday -- Resurrection Day -- and we were simply doing what Christians have been doing in various places and in various languages for two thousand years.

After Pop died in 1983 and Mom died in 1986, we continued the traditional Albanian Easter greeting with Mrs RWP’s aunt in North Carolina. Now she is gone, too. There is nobody left in the family to speak Albanian to.

So, very early this morning, as the day was beginning to dawn, I said to Mrs. RWP, “Krishti u ngjall!” and she replied, “Vërtetë u ngjall!” Some traditions are worth preserving.

This was not only an Easter greeting, it was something like the communion of the saints, I think. Some of them on earth, and some of them in Heaven. But all in agreement.

In many places around the world, in many languages, many people said these words today. We said them at our own church (Pentecostal, not Albanian Orthodox) this morning. The pastor said, “Christ is risen!” and the entire congregation replied, “He is risen indeed!” The pastor said it three times, and after the third response, spontaneous applause broke out in the choir and among the congregation.

As I said, the communion of the saints.

This afternoon I found on the Internet a photograph of the interior of Saints Peter and Paul Albanian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the church Mrs. RWP attended as a child with her mother, father, and brother. It was the first time my wife had seen this church since 1946. The church is decorated in the photograph, not for Easter, but for another Christian holiday.

Christmas. You may have heard of it.

I thought it would be interesting to post the comments from 2009 and 2015 as well. Here are the ones from 2009:


Reamus said...

We should all keep such traditions alive, Mr. RWP, thank you for sharing a fine post.

April 12, 2009 at 11:32 PM

Pat - Arkansas said...

Alleluia! Alleluia!

April 13, 2009 at 9:52 AM

bARE-eYED sUN said...

beutiful tradition, sentiment and photo. :-)

thank you

April 14, 2009 at 2:10 AM

Jeannelle said...

Oh, Rhymsie, this is a wonderful post! What a treasure to know those ancient Easter words in a unique language! Yes, keep the tradition alive of speaking them.

I woke up too early and decided to change my blogpost to publish on April 15, but after seeing the CHRISTMAS photo on your post, I'm leaving it for today, the 14th.

A belated Merry Easter to you!

April 14, 2009 at 5:25 AM

Egghead said...

What a beautiful gift you gave your wife. That is the sweetest thing I have heard in a long time.

April 15, 2009 at 6:28 PM

rhymeswithplague said...

Thank you to everyone who commented:

Reamus - This tradition will probably end in our family with the two of us. Our children don't speak Albanian, let alone their spouses. Perhaps we can teach the grandchildren, though.

Pat - Arkansas - So you liked it then....

bARE-eYED sUN - Welcome, first-timer! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Come back often.

Jeannelle - And an even more belated Merry Easter to you!

Egghead (Vonda) - We've been doing this every Easter for 46 years now.

April 15, 2009 at 10:01 PM

Anonymous said...

Krishti u ngjall!

April 19, 2009 at 5:32 PM

A Lady's Life said...

Very beautiful church.

April 21, 2009 at 7:23 PM

RachelS. said...

Dua kishën aq shumë! se foto e kishës është e bukur! Unë jam shqiptare si ju!Kristi Ngjall!

April 14, 2012 at 8:00 PM

rhymeswithplague said...

A Lady's Life, I think so too!

RachelS., thanks for commenting! I used to learn that you said, "I love church so much! that picture of the church is beautiful! I am Albanian like you! Kristi Risen!"

April 14, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Qafzez said...

Krishti u ngjall! Albanian American from Philadelphia and I attend this beautiful Church. I don't speak much Albanian either but we are Albanian Orthodox and its in our soul. Important to pass these traditions on to future generations. Come visit!

May 5, 2013 at 7:24 AM

rhymeswithplague said...

Welcome, Qafzez, to this little corner of Blogworld. Ask some of the very oldest people in your church if they remember Jim and Carrie Cudse (Dhimitri and Ksanthipi Kuci) or Nelson and Christine Pitchi. The names of the children in the two families were Mike, Eleanor, Nancy, and Johnny. These were Mrs. RWP's parents and uncle and aunt. They all moved to North Carolina around 1946.

May 5, 2013 at 8:29 AM

Klahanie said...

What a wonderful, thoughtful tradition to be upheld.

I sense the ambience.

Thank you, my kind friend.


April 7, 2015 at 10:50 PM

...and here are the comments from 2015:


All Consuming said...

A lovely tradition indeed, and educational for me as well. Do teach the Grandchildren yes! ? And does Mrs RWP speak Albanian too? Or have you said that and I missed it, (brain being slow as it is at present).

April 5, 2015 at 1:54 PM

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Like other Christian festivals or special days, Easter has its origins in pagan history. Oestre was a goddess of the springtime and of hope for the future. (RWP cage now rattled. The beast within growls. Grrrr!)

April 6, 2015 at 6:41 AM

rhymeswithplague said...

All Consuming (Michelle), Mrs. RWP understands spoken Albanian but never learned to speak it (or read it or write it) herself. She and her mom would have the most unusual bilingual conversations, her mom in Albanian and Mrs. RWP in English. It was strange to behold. I have managed to learn a little bit on my own. For example, Mirë mëngjes (Good morning), Unë të dua (I love you), and of course, Krishti u ngjall! Vërtetë u ngjall! (Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!)....

Yorkshire Pudding (Neil), au contraire! I regret to inform you that the beast within is not growling and the RWP cage has not been rattled. Of course Oestre was a goddess of springtime and there is also Ishtar and Astarte and Ashtoreth (some of them are even fertility goddesses). My post was not about them. We didn't wish one another a "Happy Easter" post is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, not green grass or baby chicks or bunny rabbits. I cannot explain Jesus any more than someone in the dark can explain a flashlight. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said 700 years before Christ, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. " And that much, as pertains to me at least, is true.

April 6, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Hilltophomesteader said...

Well said, Mr. RWP. My prayer is that all in the darkness will see the light. Sorry to be late, but He is, indeed, Risen, and I am glad.

April 7, 2015 at 1:02 AM

Friday, March 25, 2016

I'd like to thank my agent, and my director, and all the people who made this evening possible, and all you wonderful people sitting out there in the dark...

...and thank you, William James, for inventing stream-of-consciousness, and thank you, James Joyce, for employing it so well. Here's Molly in Ulysses, seeking sleep:

a quarter after what an unearthly hour I suppose theyre just getting up in China now combing out their pigtails for the day well soon have the nuns ringing the angelus theyve nobody coming in to spoil their sleep except an odd priest or two for his night office the alarmclock next door at cockshout clattering the brains out of itself let me see if I can doze off 1 2 3 4 5 what kind of flowers are those they invented like the stars the wallpaper in Lombard street was much nicer the apron he gave me was like that something only I only wore it twice better lower this lamp and try again so that I can get up early... (p. 642)

Well, that's enough of that.

Today's post will contain a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Okay, here goes.



I don't know why I continue to bother to try to blog when I have nothing whatever of worth value interest to say.

I guess it all boils down to Bloggo, ergo sum (thank you, Descartes).

For those of you who didn't take Latin, it means "I blog, therefore I am." It is as simple as that, and as complicated.

Nevertheless, I plod on valiantly to fill the ether with blather that can be traced directly to me, so that extra-terrestrials finding these words ages and ages hence (thank you, Robert Frost) will know that while it may not necessarily be true that I came, saw, or conquered (thank you, Julius Caesar), it will be irrefutable that I did at one time, someplace, somewhere, actually exist. Looking at it from their perspective, I blogged, therefore I was, which is so much better than their having to use the past imperfect conditional (I think I just made that up), as in if he had blogged, he would have been.

Immortality. To be remembered. To be not just remembered but celebrated. To have counted. To have mattered. I think that is all any of us really want, and it is something hardly any of us will get. After only a generation or two, perhaps, of being fondly remembered by our own descendants, no one will recall the sound of our voice, how we parted our hair (if we had any hair), what toothpaste or deodorant or cereal we bought, what we believed in our heart of hearts. Like all the others except for a very precious few, we will become non-entities, as anonymous as those rows and rows of skulls found under the streets of Paris.

Speaking of perspective, I need my morning coffee. This is getting too depressing.

There, that's better.

The Psalms are always a good way to start the day. I will read a couple. Psalm 30. Psalm 118. Psalm 23.

I almost forgot. Today is Good Friday. Things may look bleak, but Easter is just around the corner. There is hope.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (thank you, Psalm 30).

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring has arrived...

...and the daffodils are lovely, yes, but out in Texas, where I grew up, Spring means one thing and one thing only -- bluebonnets!:

(Photo by Michael Wayne Barrett, 2015, courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau)

...and more bluebonnets:

(Photo by Michael Wayne Barrett, 2015, courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau)

...and still more bluebonnets, shown here strewn with an occasional Indian Paintbrush:

Well, enough of that.

In Georgia and Alabama, Spring always means azaleas and dogwood blossoms, which I may show to you at a later date. But to the young folk, Spring means prom season. Dress-up time! Here is my grandson Sawyer last Friday evening with his prom date:

Aren't they stunning? Brace yourself now for something entirely different. Here is my grandson Noah last Saturday evening with his prom date:

Unless this young lady was his prom date:

Or this young lady:

Or this young lady:

Or perhaps these guys. I can't decide if they remind me more of Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi in The Blues Brothers or Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men In Black:

I give up. All I know for sure is that they are:

And here is my granddaughter Ansley, who had just finished singing and dancing in the final performance of the musical Crazy For You, which enjoyed a three-night run last week at her school. Crazy For You is a 1992 re-working of Gershwin*s 1930 musical Girl Crazy with a few extra old Gershwin standards added for good measure. Ansley played one of the Zander Follies girls, all of whom sported platinum blonde wigs. She is shown here with my grandson Matthew, her brother, who just happened to be home on spring break from Duke University:

Finally, my grandson Elijah and my grandson Sam are missing from this post because they are probably somewhere playing baseball and golf respectively, celebrating the arrival of Spring in the way they like best.

My grandchildren are my favorite flowers in any season.

Monday, March 14, 2016

On having been alive for three-quarters of a century

On Friday I will be 75 years old.

Mainly, I can't believe it.

There's simply very little else to say. But I will give it the old college try.

How did old age get here so fast? Wasn't I 33 just the other day? And why do I still feel 20 on the inside but look so decrepit on the outside? No explanation is possible.

My dad, who was born in 1906 and died in 1967, used to marvel that in his lifetime humans had gone from traveling on horseback to traveling on rocket ships. Changes during my lifetime have been no less remarkable.

When I was a boy I played with a Slinky and a ViewMaster Steroscope and a Radio Flyer wagon and a rubber ball attached by an elastic band to a wooden paddle. I even played with pots and pans and cardboard boxes and egg cartons and a fruitcake tin filled with buttons. Today's kids, God bless them, have to be entertained constantly with Xboxes and Wiis and Play Station 4s and iPhone6s with Instagram and Twitter and who knows what else. I shudder to think.

It's a different world.

I remember the days before television. I remember when there were no computers. I remember having a single phone for the entire family and it was connected to the wall by a cord. It didn't have pushbuttons or even a dial. It had a crank that you turned to get the operator's attention and then you told the operator what number you wanted to reach and that number had four digits. I remember having no hot and cold running water or an indoor toilet or sink or bathtub. I remember pulling on a rope to haul the drinking water out of the well in a bucket. Later on, I remember when there were only three television channels and the set was a 12-inch Philco and it carried programming from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. only. The rest of the time there was only a test pattern. I remember 45 rpm vinyl records.

I remember hula hoops.

I remember feeding chickens. I remember riding a horse. I remember picking blackberries. What today's kids will remember, in the cities at least, are drive-by shootings and drug deals and gang wars.

I remember when a man's word was his bond and a handshake was as good as a promise.

I remember when gasoline (petrol to you Brits) cost 19 cents per gallon. I remember the first year my dad earned over $5,000 and he did it by working six days a week and a lot of overtime. I remember that my first month's salary with IBM in 1965 was $650 before taxes, a veritable fortune at the time.

What I remember are days that, unless there are atomic wars or a series of natural disasters that reduce everything to rubble, will never be seen again.

I wish I could be around to hear what today's kids will remember when they are 75.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A stitch in time saves 9,817,643 (Part 3)

[Editor's note. This is the third post in a three-part series. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. --RWP]

Okay, first of all, to let you know that I am no longer a complete idiot when it comes to technical things (why are you laughing?), I received some excellent tutelage via e-mail from one Adrian Ward of Somewhere, Scotland, and can now rotate photographs using my new operating system (Windows 10) just as expertly as I did using my old one (XP). Here's proof using the two photographs that faced west in the preceding post:

Footprints in the Sand:

...and Family Circle:

I know you will agree that they look much better facing south.

Moving right along with Part 3 of this series, here is a cross-stitch Mrs. RWP made in 1988 for our silver anniversary (for readers in Alabama, that means we had been married 25 years). It is displayed over our piano:

The next two hang in our master bathroom, and Mrs. RWP is especially proud of their borders. If your device allows zooming, zoom in for a closer look. A bird bath is on the left:

...and a clawfoot tub is on the right:

I wouldn't lie to you. Here they are together:

A fruit basket that contains 53 colors and took Mrs. RWP a year to complete hangs in our kitchen:

A small cornucopia that we had framed as a companion piece to the fruit basket hangs over our pantry door:

Finally, a second 53-color beauty that took Mrs. RWP another year to complete hangs in our entrance hall/vestibule/fwah-yay (pick one) along with the bluebird-adorned Psalm 100 that I showed you in the preceding post:

Thus ends my three-part series showing you Mrs. RWP's prowess and talent with a needle and thread.

P. S. -- Yorkshire Pudding asked in a comment on the previous post if I am rich. I used to be, but I spent my entire fortune getting these beautiful creations framed. To do less would be criminal.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A stitch in time saves 9,817,643 (Part 2)

This post is the second of three posts highlighting Mrs. RWP's cross-stitched creations. The first post is here.

But first, let us commemorate this past Sunday night's series finale on Downton Abbey (which Mrs. RWP has always called Abby Dalton). As Lady Mary's young son George said to Thomas Barrow, the under-butler, upon his departure, "Goodbye, Mr. Bawwow". If you click on that link you will find a brief recap of several relationships from the series, as well as an embedded video that contains several zingers uttered by Violet, the dowager countess, who was played by Dame Maggie Smith. However, you will see neither Lady Mary's young son George nor Thomas Barrow, the under-butler.

Now that that's behind us, let us move on to Part 2 of Mrs. RWP's stitchery.

Briefly stated, she continued to turn out beauty after beauty, masterpiece after masterpiece.

She made three of these, one for each of our children upon their marriage. Except for the names and dates, they were identical right down to the choice of frame and suede mat. Each one contains part of the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, commonly called "the love chapter."

This one, which unfortunately is sideways, is the poem "Footprints in the Sand" by Mary Stevenson. You will need to tilt your head 90 degrees to the right or your computer 90 degrees to the left, but not both, before attempting to read it. This one hangs in our master bedroom, but for purposes of photographing it I laid it on the dining room table:

Continue in that position to read the next creation as well. It is a quotation that begins "Our family is a circle of love..." and is by an unknown author. -- It usually hangs in the same guest bathroom where Psalm 23 from the previous post resides, but I laid it on the dining room table to photograph it:

Return your head or computer to its original position to enjoy Mrs. RWP's second go at Psalm 100, complete with bluebirds:

I will show you the rest of Mrs. RWP's handiwork in Part 3.

Until then, "Goodbye, Mr. Bawwow" indeed and "Good bye, Abby Dalton.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A stitch in time saves 9,817,643 (Part 1)

Coloring is not Mrs. RWP's only hobby. She also is an excellent cross-stitcher. In this post you will see what I am treated to every single day of my life.

Wikipedia says that cross stitching is the oldest form of embroidery and is found all over the world. There are two types, stamped cross stitch and counted cross stitch.

This first one, the Twenty-third Psalm, was a stamped pattern. It was the first project Mrs. RWP attempted when she took up cross-stitching back in the 1980s. This hangs on one wall of our guest bathroom:.

All of the remaining creations in this post and the next two posts were counted cross-stitch projects, which simply means the patterns were not stamped on the cloth but Mrs. RWP created the finished products by following a set of printed instructions. Here is some of her early work:

The Big Chicken actually exists in Marietta, Georgia, as a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. In real life its beak moves up and down and its eyes roll. The computer expert on the right is, of course, me. I took it to work and hung it in my office. My mouth also moves up and down and my eyes have been known to roll on occasion.

The small hallway that leads to what we call the grandchildren's bedroom is adorned with the following sampler that Mrs. RWP created in 1986. It was the most complex one Mrs. RWP had attempted so far:

We're just beginning and I don't want to overwhelm you. Parts 2 and 3 will follow shortly.

I will be laboring (<i>British,</i> labouring) under a handicap for the next couple of weeks (<i>British,</i> fortnight)

More about that below. First, though, I want to add an addendum (what else would you do with an addendum?) to my previous post about phone...