Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Angels

Abby ( now just turned 4) is going to be an angel in the school Nativity Play.
Helen`s old costume is sadly shabby, so I think I will have to go hunting for a new one for Abby`s acting debut !

I am profoundly thankful that they are in a school where there is still a strong Christian ethos.
Although they learn about other religious faiths and their traditions, as required by law, most of what they learn in RE is Christian.
The little ones perform a Nativity Play, and the older ones put on an unashamedly Christmas Concert/Play.

None of this PC, all-inclusive, non-specific, wishy-washy, namby-pamby claptrap of having a "Winter Festival" which sems to be infecting Britain like some sort of noxious plague.

Even in Abby`s class (ages 3 to 4), they all say grace before lunch in school :-
"Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the birds that sing
Thank you God
For everything.
Amen."

End of Rant, I promise :-)
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Communion Wine - Bad for Business

This week`s Church Times (Anglican) newspaper has a report that as of this week, the SPCK Christian bookshop chain will no longer be able to sell communion wine .

The 15% proof Vino Sacro can no longer be bought because of new Government legislation (yawn) which means each single SPCK shop would need to have a £600 licence for selling alcohol and a mandatory two staff members in attendance at all times.
The SPCK shop in our nearest big City is a small shop with one staff member. The costs of employing another member of staff simply to meet the new legislation would be prohibitive and definitely not cost-effective.

I never thought the day would come when Communion was bad for a business......
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Getting Ready for St Nicholas

If you are looking for ideas on how to celebrate St Nicholas` day, I urge you to visit
http://www.stnicholascenter.org

where you can literally spend hours browsing. From recipes for traditional foods, to craft ideas, play scripts, and even a list of countries with details of their traditional customs relating to the beloved Saint.

Each year our children leave their slippers outside their bedroom door at bedtime on 5th Dec, and miraculously, each 6th December morning, there are candy canes and a bag of chocolate coins for each child.
There may be other gifts; one year each child had an icon of St Nicholas, Help of Mariners :-)

I haven`t decided what this year`s treat will be, but we will be making St Nicholas cookies.
I need to buy marzipan..............
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Monday, November 28, 2005

Cold Thoughts

Brrrr.
I thought it was strange when I got up at 6am that the house seemed really, really cold. The central heating was on, and up to 28 degrees C, but I was seated at my computer wearing a woolen shawl over my clothes nonetheless...............

When dawn broke about 8am, the reason was apparent - thick frost.
As we walked past the lake, over half of it was frozen over, with seagulls perched miserably on the ice.

I have just checked the temperature in our kitchen (which is not centrally heated) and it is a miserly 3 degrees C according to my trusty thermometer. The rest of the house has now warmed up to a comfortable 15 degrees C , LOL.

I am trying to pluck up courage to go back out in the cold and leave the thermometer out for a while. And this is mild weather compared to that enndured by Fr Arseny and his companions in the Russian gulag camps.
Dear God alone knows how they survived that bitter cold.
Sure puts my own grumbles into perspective.

UPDATE: I have just checked the temperature outside and it has warmed up to a spectatcular 0 degrees C !
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Friday, November 25, 2005


Icicles on our roof, just starting to melt :-) Posted by Picasa
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One of the oldest houses in the village......late mediaeval period. Posted by Picasa
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One of the thatched houses near us, with snow on its roof ! Posted by Picasa
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More snow. Posted by Picasa
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Snow on them there hills ! Posted by Picasa
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Let It Snow !

On Thursday night the weather forecast was for cold weather and snow, much to the children`s delight.
Secretly, it was to mine as well.
Snow is a rarity here, living on the coast as we do, and if we get any at all, it is generally in Feb - March.
Certainly not in November !

Lying in bed, with my pyjamas on, I was hot. So hot that I got up and looked out of the window. No snow.
Later on that night, I could hear torrential rain. Gloomily, I thought to myself that the snow was a total non-starter, as surely the rain would make it impossible for any snow to stick.
I fell asleep again mentally grumbling.

I was awoken by a jubilant 7 year old screaming that it was snowing, and lo and behold, it was !
About two inches had fallen by 8am, so I had to take more photos....
It didn`t last, and the snow had mostly melted by teatime, but it was still a magical day.
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The lake in the clearing mist. Posted by Picasa
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The island in the middle of the lake.... Posted by Picasa
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Our Week

We awoke on Wednesday morning to really thick mist - we could not even see the houses across the street !
By the time we got ready to go to school, the mist was thick but clearing very slightly.


The most uncanny thing immediately obvious to us was the silence. .....
With the exception of the occasional car or lorry passing slowly, and the raucous cry of a seagull, we could neither see anyone else walking to school nor hear them. Even our footsteps were muffled by the fog.
It was beautiful, but creepy at the same time.

I had taken my camera with me, so for your delectation I will be posting some shots in the mist :-0

By lunchtime the mist had cleared and it became a lovely sunny day and even better, was quite warm after the cold Monday and Tuesday we had endured.

The weather forecast for the weekend promised cold winds and snow, so I went to town and bought the young ones new hats, scarves and gloves just in case..........we live on the coast, so snow is a real rarity, but best to be prepared !
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Monday, November 21, 2005

Nature Notes

It is absolutely bitterly cold today .
I am sitting here wearing T shirt, thick jumper, woollen jacket, tights, trousers, socks and slippers and I *still* have a wool rug over my lap and legs .
I`m not hot, just comfortably warm !!

There was a really heavy frost this morning, and the pond in the field we pass each day is frozen solid. The main lake isn`t frozen yet, but it soon will be.
Despite the cold, it is a lovely sunny day.
Long may it continue :-)

In the garden recently there have been :-
a wren,
a song thrush,
female and male blackbirds,
a blue tit,
a magpie,
jackdaws
and a curlew flying overhead.
I don`t think the five planes overhead count as nature, despite their wings........

I will be watching the ducks to see if we have any visiting birds when I go to pick the girls up this afternoon. Good birdwatching weather :-)
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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Deprivation

I don`t know what it is about fasting periods, but they always, without fail, show up my worst faults in sharp focus quite incredibly quickly !
This week was no exception.

On Weds night, about 7pm I put out our rubbish bags for the weekly refuse collection, and also the two black recycling boxes (one for paper and one for glass) for their fortnightly collection.

At 8pm I emptied the kitchen bin and put that bag outside , only to find that some (deep breath) *person* had stolen one of our black boxes. They had kindly emptied all the glass out of it first and shoved that on top of the papers box.

To say I was incandescent with rage was an understatement. I ranted and raved and called the thief all manner of things, before my DH gently pointed out that we hadn`t had to buy the boxes anyway as the council supplied them as part of their recycling initiative, so they weren`t truly ours anyway unless you consider them part payment for our exorbitant council tax !

That stopped me dead in my tracks.

Why get so upset over a plastic stacking box, worth about £2, for heaven`s sake ?

Because it was MINE !!! Anger, affronted pride, possessiveness, slander, back-biting, selfishness and greed all displayed in one incident lasting about a minute.

Ouch.

In the cold light of day, I don`t like myself very much sometimes.

The food fast is not going particularly well for various reasons, but I am so much more aware of my transgressions and making a conscious effort to be less judgemental, more patient, more kind, more understanding.

Still got a butt-load of nasties to confess though.

I do love the Fasts; reality check personified !
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St Illtyd

Today is the feast of the great Celtic saint, Illtyd !

His troparia is:-
Troparion of St Illtyd Tone 6
O wise Illtyd, thou wast noble by birth and noble in mind/
and didst train many saints in the way of holiness./
Pray to Christ our God to raise up saints in our days/
to His glory and for our salvation.

The life of St Illtyd Feast 6/19 November, is here .


A really nice web site depicting a visit to Llantwit Major is here and is well worth a browse.
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Friday, November 18, 2005

Garden Notes

We decided yesterday that enough was enough, and we could no longer put off the necessary garden work.

Our poor uncomplaining postman was getting drenched, having to walk down our overgrown garden path and getting soaked by our numerous shrubs, so DH fired up the hedge cutter and we blitzed the shrubs back to a reasonable size.
Two hours later, we took the 9 rubbish sacks of prunings to the municipal dump (our council calls it a "civic amenity site", as though it is a theme park !!)

We can now walk freely down the path, even carrying shopping, with having to turn sideways to avoid the bushes :-)
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Water Front

The water levels in the recently flooded lake are at last starting to subside and are now well within their banks again.
Needless to say, we have been warned that there hasn`t been enough of the right sort of rain and we can probably expect hosepipe bans by Easter ......
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NHS Dentists

Nationally, NHS dentists are a rare breed.
Up until July this year, our town of 18 000 souls was served by 5 dentists in three practices, all working under the NHS , meaning that people of average income would receive at least partly subsidised treatment. A check-up, for example, would cost £12.
In July, our dental practice went private, meaning that a check-up now costs about £25.
About eight weeks ago, a second dental practice went private, with a mad scramble of their NHS patients fighting for a place on their private lists, which are considerably smaller than their old NHS lists.
This left only one of the original 5 dentists still seeing NHS patients, until last Saturday, when he too decided to leave the sinking NHS ship and go private. There was again a huge queue of ex-NHS patients hoping to sign up for a place in their private practice, and again many folk were unsuccessful, and will have to travel considerable distances to find an NHS dentist or even a private dentist who has space for them in their patient lists.

It is getting to the point when people are seriously considering having all their remaining teeth extracted and having dentures fitted on the grounds that it will be infinitely cheaper in the long run.......
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

House News

I forgot to mention it, but on the weekend, DH decided that as the house we did both quite like has just been sold to someone else, it was best if we stay where we are, for the time being , at least. So our house has been taken off the estate agent`s site.

We have a reprieve, and will be able to enjoy Christmas here :-)
Thanks to Philippa, whose cries of outrage , I am sure, were what subliminally affected DH`s decision !!
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Rat Count

Yesterday, in less than a minute`s walk along the lakeisde, I saw three large and three smaller rats.
The rain has stopped, the lake level is dropping again, and it has got much colder. Most of the trees have lost their leaves here now.
Definitely late autumn.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Time Warp

Blogger is in the middle of a time warp.
Either that, or it is down the wrong leg of the bifurcated trousers of time (a la Terry Pratchett).

I checked my email about five minutes ago, and my dear friend Mimi has left three comments on my recent blogposts, according to blogger`s notification system. Lo and behold, when I check my blog, the comments AREN`T THERE yet !
How strange is that ?

Anyway, Mimi, the Bible was not one of my many Ebay acquisitions, but my Presbytera kindly ordered it for me :-)

I am also a keen Brother Cadfael fan, and have all the books, though by a slim margin I think I do actually prefer Ellis Peters` Inspector Felse mysteries.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Shrewsbury, and I really would love to go there again sometime !
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The Eyes Have It !

I am now the happy proud possessor of a new KJV Bible.
Not a large print, but a GIANT print format. It is crisp, clear type, incredibly comfortable and easy to read, and I don`t need a wheelbarrow to carry it around :-)

It was published by World Publishing, Iowa.
It doesn`t have Apocrypha, but I can buy it separately.

And yes, I do desperately need to get my eyes re-tested :-(

On Sunday, when I was reading the post-Communion prayers in Church, I didn`t have my glasses on and I found it difficult to read even though the prayer book was large print.
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Ouch

For a truly scary explanation as to exactly WHY water and electricity are a dangerous combination, have a wander here.

The moral may be "Learn to Shout".

Lord, have mercy on the poor pastor, Kyle Lake.
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Weather

We did indeed have a whole day without precipitation yesterday, and it was lovely.
The rain has returned today though :-)
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St Winefride of Wales

The 3/16 of October marks the Feast of St Winefride of Holywell.

A whole service for the Saint can be found here

An icon of the Saint can be found here

Information about her life and the Shrine at Holywell can be found here


Troparion of St Winefred tone 8

Caradog's anger struck off thy head, O pious Winefred,/
but by the prayers of the Wonderworker Beuno thy mutilated form was miraculously made whole and restored to life./
As thou didst dedicate thy life to God's service in thanksgiving for His abundant mercy,/
pray that we, never forgetting His mercy towards us, may live only for Him that our souls may be saved.

Holy Mother Winefride, pray for us !
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Monday, November 14, 2005

Weather News

As I expected, it rained heavily Saturday until lunchtime, then it brightened up and we had glorious sunshine.
Sunday was mostly sunny with a small amount of rain later on.
Today is gloriously sunny with a heavy frost this morning.

It remains to be seen whether today will be the first day in 3+ weeks with no rain ............
The suspense is nearly killing me ;-0
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Mixed News

Yesterday morning we had a phone call. A friend of his has died very suddenly aged 52.
Lord, have mercy.
DH and his mother will be going to the funeral on Thursday afternoon. I can`t go, as one of us needs to pick the children up from school.

On a happy note, after Liturgy today, Father announced that my beloved eldest daughter, Tatiana Louise, is to be Chrismated on the nearest Sunday to Candlemas.
So then three of my four girls will be Orthodox !
Glory to God for all things !
Now to keep praying about DD2 :-)
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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Armistice Day

We were at McDonald`s yesterday at the time the two minute silence was due , and I was really pleased to find that the manager sent a staff member round to every customer to inform them that the silence *was* going to be observed. Everybody respected it, and it was really quite sobering how long two minutes of complete silence seems in our crazy, noisy world.

My great-grandfather fought in the First World War as a young lad; he ran away from home at 14 and lied about his age in order to enlist. He survived fighting in the trenches in Northern France, and had a special commendation for heroism.
We still have his soldier`s bible and his family rosary, which he carried with him every day.

I keep them in my icon corner, as a personal memorial to all those who fought bravely and those who gave their lives so that we could have freedom.
I will never let my children forget what a debt we owe to them.
God grant that we may live our lives in a way worthy of the sacrifices they made for us and for all future generations !!
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Friday, November 11, 2005

Rat Count

The heavy prolonged rain is obviously flooding all the rat burrows around the lake. One afternoon this week I saw *4* rats in a two-foot square area when I walked past.
Shiver.
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Here Comes The Rain Again

I knew it was too good to be true.
One day of sun on Wednesday, and it rained all day Thursday and is raining again today.
Bother.
Bother.
And Bother.
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sunshine at Last !

Although it rained overnight, this morning dawned bright and clear, and we have had a gloriously sunny - although rather cold - day today.

It`s amazing how much sunshine does to brighten one`s spirits.
Over a fortnight of daily rain was making me feel rather gloomy, I have to admit :-)

Of course, the change in temperature emant that my feet were freezing in my ancient trainers, so I am now the proud possessor of a pair of German Thermal boots, guaranteed waterproof and frostproof, for the princely sum of £14.99. I wore them down to school this afternoon to pick the girls up, and I really was warm as toast.
They will probably be worn daily for the next six months now, with the possible exception of Christmas Day..........
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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tagged Again

Dave Holford has tagged me with this Meme:
"MY TOP TEN (OR SO) GREATEST INFLUENCES, OUTSIDE OF GOD AND MY FAMILY MEMBERS."

Ow. Most of my inflences probably have been family, but here goes !

Now, shall I include good influences or bad influences :-))))
I think I will include both , LOL.

1/ Fr John, a High-Church Anglican priest who gave me free rein in his extensive theological library and first introduced me to the Orthodox Church, for which I can never be thankful enough. He also organised a parish pilgrimage to the glorious shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham , which is where I attended my First Divine Liturgy in the tiny Orthodx Chapel there.

2/Dorothy Walters, a wonderful midwife who cared for me when I was pregnant with DD1, and subsequently became a dear friend, who encouraged my aspirations to become a midwife.

3/My godfather and beloved parish priest, Fr Luke Holden , who keeps me on the straight and narrow path. When I fall off that path, it is solely due to my own wilfulness and sin :-(

4/My Presbytera Celia, who lives a life of great piety, devotion, humility, charity and unconditional love for others. I could not wish for better examples of how to live my life than her`s and Father Luke`s lives.

5/An ancestor from my ex-husband`s side of the family. She was an indomitable and redoubtable staunch Methodist in the 1800s and nothing, absolutely nothing, deflected her from devoting her whole life to following Christ and encouraging others to do the same.
May Sarah Smith`s Memory be Eternal !

6/Another senior midwife, Jenny, who had unparalleled skill in her work, was completely unflappable and calm despite any emergencies which might crop up in work, and who trusted in my abilities as a student midwife and gave me confidence to do what was right even when others would have taken the easy (but not necessarily right) options.

7/I have to mention another midwife, C, who was in a position of authority over me for a period and almost completely destroyed my confidence and put me under a horrifying amount of stress.
Put it this way, when I was pregnant with DD4, I warned my midwife friends that if she was on duty when I was admitted to the labour ward, I would prefer to walk out and risk giving birth and bleeding to death in the car park rather than having her touch a child of mine.
And I meant it.
I am still struggling to properly forgive her.
I do pray for her regularly though.

8/The wonderful Dr Catherine Hamlin, who has devoted her life to helping poor Ethiopian women who have suffered crippling childbirth injuries. When no-one else cared, or could or would help them, she and her husband *did*. You can read about her work here. She has helped cure over 20,000 women.

9/My beloved lifelong friend Carole, whose unfailing love and support have been such an anchor despite some pretty traumatic times. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the way she lives her life and her kindness to others.
No one ever has a bad word to say about her.

10/My blog buddies. You are all in my prayers.

I am tagging DoomHamster , Richard
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The Holy Hedgehog

A few nights ago, Abby said "Mummy, say the hedgehog song" as we were getting ready for bed.
To say I was a little bemused was an understatement.

Hedgehog Song ?
What Hedgehog song ?
I have *never* knowingly sung a hedgehog based song to my children.

When I asked her to tell me how it went, it transpires that although she knows and can sing all the words for "Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon us", which we say at prayers, she calls it the Hedgehog Song.
Ah. Revelation.
So our nightly prayers now always include the formal request for the Hedgehog Song :-)
I`m just waiting for her to say delightedly in the middle of Liturgy, "oooh, it`s the Hedgehog Song !" . Perhaps I should teach her it in Greek instead , LOL.

She is now incorporating the names of her special friends at school as well as family,godparents and our Priest and Presbytera in her prayers, which is lovely.
Last night we had special mentions for Ethan, Ieuan, Sophie, Emily and Megan, as well as her teacher.

BTW, Another Orthodox Abigail is learning ritual and prayer, in the Holford household, as described beautifully by Dave here .
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Monday, November 07, 2005

Having Lunch

I had to go to town today to buy the youngest two children some new slippers, and afterwards, having had a successful book trawl round various charity shops, I decided on the spur of the moment to have lunch out.

I ended up at a restaurant which does a two course lunch for £6.00, and jolly nice it was too.
I had pate and toast with salad for the starter, and for main course I had jacket potato, smoked haddock with cheese crust on a bed of salad leaves.
I had a large Coca-cola, which costa further £1.65.

I was in two minds about going there, as the last time I was there was whilst in the process of divorcing my first husband, and it was also somewhere where he and I used to go quite regularly, so there were a lot of bitter-sweet memories attached to the place.
However, I decided to lay the ghosts to rest , and I walked in.

It is the first time I have ever sat in a restaurant and eaten a meal *by myself*, and I did feel rather self-conscious at first. At one point I contemplated extracting one of my new books from my bag and burying myself in it , but I resisted temptation :-)

It was lovely to sit down at a table, and really concentrate on enjoying the tastes and textures of a super meal, rather than being distracted by books, TV, radio, computer etc - but eating out will be a very occasional treat !
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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Domestic News

We have finally had the radiators put back in the bedrooms and DH has finished the painting, and on Thursday, thanks to the hard work of two carpet-fitters, we now have carpets again :-))))

New furniture has arrived for DD1`s bedroom and DD3`s room, so we have been frantically assembling it all and then clearing stuff from where it has been in storage downstairs back up to the bedrooms.
DD3`s books and videos filled 13 black rubbish sacks in the dining room, and they are all back in her room on a 6 foot tall wide bookcase at last , Thank God.
We can actually **see** some of the floor in the dining room, LOL ...............

Today we will be assembling DD1`s bookcases and moving all her numerous boxes of books out of the kitchen and back into her room. It will be a mammoth job, as she is having *two* six foot tall extra-wide bookcases :-)

By tonight, we may actually be able to see the doors leading into the garden from the kitchen for the first time in a year !

It actually looks like a house again, not a run-down furniture storage warehouse. DH has worked so very hard to renovate this house, and it is lovely to see it looking the way he had planned it to look.

Of course, the fact that the house is now up for sale as he has got "itchy feet " again is a whole other story , LOL.
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Ir Rained And It Rained And ......

Well, the rains continue !
On Wednesday as I walked the girls round the lake to school , the water level was very high and I counted eight smallish breaches of the banks on two sides.
Yesterday I counted no less than thirteen breaches of the banks on the two sides bounded by the footpath.
It rained heavily last night and the courtyard outside my window is still soaking wet - but at least the very high winds have died down a little :-)
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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ghost Story

A thoroughly enjoyable ghost story written by a blogger I read regularly can be found here .
It had me going for a while, till I realised it was a ghost story :-0
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At My Signal, Unleash Hell.....

For those of you with a classical interest, the whole script of the movie Gladiator has been translated into Latin :-)
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All Saints Day

Happy Feast Day of All Saints, gentle readers :-)

Fr John Parker makes some extremely interesting points about Halloween here in his blog.
Well worth a read !

Our party was FUN !
We said the Trisagion prayers at the icon corner, illuminated only by candles and with incense burning, and a beautiful prayer courtesy of Richard`s Ramblings slightly adapted to include our family`s Patron Saints :-)

DD3 dressed up, DD4 didn`t want to. That was fine.

We carved a pumkin Jack o` Lantern, with a zigzag face on one side and a cross on the other, to show that the Light Of Christ shines always , and overcomes the darkness.

We made cakes, ate doughnuts, had treat bags, played ducking apples and The Magic Feely Box. If you haven`t come across this before, you need a box and some packing material ie shredded paper, crumpled kitchen paper towels , knitting yarn etc. Cut a hand sized hole in the top of the box and insert various household objects. The competitors should be blindfolded to avoid accusations of cheating, BTW !
The competitor then has to guess correctly the identity of the object found in the box.
Last night, DD1 took a while to identify a pair of scissors, as for safety`s sake, I had used an old pair of rounded edge baby nail scissors, which had opened up in the box and were a very peculiar shape indeed :-)

A mobile phone, a birthday cake candle, a book, a tea candle and a toothbrush were amongst our items.......

As the weather was disgusting last night, we never had a single trick or treater at our house - first time ever. So all those little treat bags are sitting reproachfully on the sideboard , tempting the children......
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