Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pithless Thoughts

S-p, from Pithless Thoughts , writes lovingly and movingly here about the imminent death of his father in law, and of a church friend who died last week.
It moved me to tears.

God grant a blessed death to Gil, and Memory eternal to Walter, and peace and comfort to s-p`s family.

Lord, have mercy.
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Fit For A Church Newspaper ?

I buy the Church Times every week, mainly for the great book reviews and also for the news articles.
This current issue surprised me, because there were people I know (albeit only slightly) in there !

A couple who run a grocery shop decided to branch out into running a Christian cyber-sex shop for married couples , and their web site has been mentioned in several of the major newspapers in the UK, though I must admit to being a bit surprised to see a double page spread on them in the Church Times.......

When I showed it to DH (a non-churchgoing believer) he was absolutely appalled that this should have been mentioned in a Church newspaper.

This did rather surprise me, and I pointed out several articles about the impending schisms within Anglicanism/Episcopalianism due to things like gay rights etc, which seem to merit acres of print space.

For some reason , this did not seem to bother him, whereas the thought of a Christian marital aids website offended his sensibilities quite strongly. Considering he is a placid, easy-going person, I was surprised at his vehemence about this.

The couple state they only believe in sex within marriage, and that it is a gift from God to be cherished and enjoyed, but DH still wasn`t convinced the topic was fit to be printed in such a forum........
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House For Sale

Well, we have bitten the bullet and put our house up for sale this weekend.
It is now in the hands of the Almighty whether we get any offers for it which would enable us to think about moving house.

This will be the 5 th time I will have moved house in eight years .....Stress, stress, stress !
Lord, have mercy !
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Friday, May 26, 2006

House Thoughts

Just to clarify, in the UK, a reception room is a downstairs "living space" room other than a kitchen/cloakroom....so it could be a study, dining room, living room, etc.

A conservatory is a mainly glass addition to the house, functioning as an extra room, usually overlooking the garden, so it is almost certainly the same as a US garden room.

Several more properties have come on the market this week, so the plot thickens.........
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Forgotten Funny Comment

I forgot to mention last week`s debacle.
On Friday, the school had arranged for a photographer to visit and take photos of the children, so DD3 &4 were immaculate, clean and tidy going to school ready for the Big Event.
DH, my mother and I were off to Gerwyn`s mum`s funeral which was at 9.30am.

My mum said after the funeral that she fancied going to McDonalds for breakfast, as it was only just after ten, so off we went. I had of course switched my mobile phone onto silent mode for the duration of the funeral, and whilst we were in the big M`s, I remembered and turned it back onto noisy mode :-) only to find that the girls` school had been trying to contact me.

Alarmed, I phoned back to be told that a gas leak had been identified at the school, and for safety reasons, they had evacuated the children to the nearby Baptist church hall, and could we go and pick the girls up as there would be no school for the rest of the day.

Needless to say, we went straight to retrieve our youngest ones, who thought it had all been a great adventure. Mercifully everyone was safe, and no damage done to the school,who were assembled en masse in the church hall with the school staff supervising.

On the way home, I said casually to Helen "Oh, that must have been a shock to have to zoom over to the Church Hall like that, first thing in the morning !".

She looked me in the eye, and said in that incredibly serious way that only an almost 8 year old can:
"Mum ! We didn`t zoom, we proceeded in a calm and orderly fashion along the pavement to the Hall. "

She did say that it had been rather cool having the teaching staff stopping the traffic so that they could all cross the road though :-)

The girls enjoyed their unscheduled day at home, and the school photographs have been duly rescheduled for the Monday after half-term, this time hopefully without added excitement......
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sober Reflections

If you haven`t already found the Orrologion blog, I would highly recommend a very sobering article on the remembrance of death, and its importance in the spiritual life which is currently posted.

Sure made me stop and think.
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Monday, May 22, 2006

Combined Party

On Sunday we had a combined party for DD1 `s birthday and DD3`s Name day, which was fun.
The festivities will continue next weekend with DD3`s 8th birthday.

She doesn`t know it yet, but she has got a big remote controlled Dalek which makes noises and says phrases, as well as lighting up. Just perfect for a keen Dr Who fan like her .

We can`t wait to see her face when she opens it; I am hoping DH will manage to capture it on camera :-)
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House, MD

I have only ever seen one episode of House, MD on tv (from the current second series) and I really enjoyed it. Totally bizarre, anarchic, very non-PC, and brilliantly written medical diagnostic thrillers - just my favourite sort of viewing.

However, it is on too late for me to watch on TV, and I am a technophobe about the dvd recorder :-0.
Knowing this, my precious DH bought me the whole first series on DVD on Saturday.
Woo-hoo !!!!

I am trying very hard to be disciplined and watch only one episode per day, as this will then last me a good three weeks. ......... but it is difficult !

DH is having a Seventies TV revival, and has bought (for a song from Ebay) the complete series of Planet of the Apes, the Rockford Files, the original Starsky and Hutch, some Dr Who , and the complete "Star Trek -the original series".
My one set of House MD cost only marginally less than all the ones he bought from EBay, which is quite sobering.

However, the only kosher Region 2 sets of House MD on Ebay were only fractionally less than what we paid at Woolworth`s, and the apparently official Asian ones aren`t always particularly good quality. There are sometimes compatibility issues with Region 4 Australian sets when played on some brands of region 2 dvd players (of course they are both the brands we have !), so the safest option was to buy the Region 2 set.

And yes, my husband is a sweetie !
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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Opinions Asked

DH has only a few minor tasks to undertake before we put our house up for sale.

We have seen 3 houses we like, and I am curious as to which you would choose, given the option.

1/ a detached 4 bedroom, 4 reception room extended bungalow, with small enclosed back garden, larger front garden, with stunning views over fields to woodland, on a quiet road with virtually no through traffic, and where the loudest sound is that of birdsong. It is however, a lot further away from school to walk. Also has downstairs toilet as well as upstairs bathroom. Price 282,000 UKP.
It also has a perfect room to act as a chapel :-)

2/ a detached house, three bedroom, 2 receptions, a nice conservatory and huge kitchen, with downstairs toilet as well as upstairs bathroom. Closer to school, but with tiny gardens, and overlooking other houses. A reasonable amount of through traffic. Price 295,000UKP

3/ A nice solidly built detached house, huge rooms, small gardens, three enormous bedrooms, two reception rooms, no downstairs toilet, but it has a utility room off the kitchen to act as laundry area and freezer area plus storage for coats etc. Small garden, and neighbours have a dreadful yappy dog. On the other side of the house is aRC church. It is on a very busy main road, and the house is set close to the road. Lots of traffic noise. A much shorter walk to school than we have currently.
Price 235,000UKP.

What would you choose ? And why ?
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Rollercoaster

It`s been a busy few days.
On Friday was the funeral of my friend`s mother, and again the Contakion for the Dead was said by an Anglican priest; it has obviously been "adopted" :-)
I found this funeral quite harrowing, probably as it is the second in 7 days.

Saturday was a happy day, the 20th birthday of our lovely eldest daughter, the infamous DoomHamster. She had a good day, and I am sure she will blog about it in due course when she has finished her impending animation project for her course assessment.

Many Years to DoomHamster !

The two youngest ones also had a birthday friend`s birthday party to attend; Many Years to Emily !

Today, apart form being the Feast of St Helen and St constantine, is the Name day of precious dear daughter 3, so Many Years to Helen !

Whew.
Thank goodness we have a short break before Helen`s birthday on 27th May :-)
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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Flash Floods

We had absolutely ferocious torrential flash floods yesterday, which caused no damage other than to the swan nest on the island in the middle of our small lake, when the water levels rose dramatically in the space of a very few hours.

The nest was flooded, and I was so sad to see a solitary swan egg bobbing up and down on the water this morning as I walked the children to school................

I hope the other eggs did not meet a similar fate, but there was no sign of the swans near their nest area :-(
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Current Reading

Thanks to our wonderful local public library, I was able to order a copy of Eamon Duffy`s "The Stripping of the Altars" on Tuesday and pick it up today :-)

I wasn`t expecting such a massive tome, and it will keep me happily quiet for quite some time, I suspect!
The late Middle Ages and peri-Reformation period have always been of special interest to me, so I am sure I will find it fascinating........

and it will stop me ranting on about the wretched Da Vinci Code film/book debacle :-)
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hospital Chapel

I had some free time prior to my appointment yesterday, so I took myself to the hospital chapel and with my beloved Monastic Diurnal and used the time profitably in prayer and reflection.

Whilst I was there, one of the hospital chaplains came in, and greeted me warmly, and asked if there was anything I needed or if there was anything he could do.
I explained that I was just waiting for a routine appointment, but he made me feel so welcome and at home, it was very kind and comforting.
I added a special prayer for him and for all the Chaplaincy team who minister to the staff as well as the patients and visitors at the hospital. They do wonderful work.

Interestingly, whilst I was there, a Muslim gentleman came in to perform his devotions. The obviously Christian nature of the Chapel, with the Cross, stained glass windows and pictures of Our Lord didn`t seem to bother him in the least, and it was certainly the first time that I have prayed in the same place and at the same time as a member of the Muslim faith.
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Hospital News

Yesterday, I had an appointment at the local hospital to see a Rheumatologist.
I have had problems for nearly ten years, and was initially told I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, which runs in my family anyway.

Interestingly, none of the expected joint malformations occurred, so I felt it was time for reassessment, and my GP agreed.

It has taken almost two years of appointments, blood tests, X rays, more blood tests and numerous appointments deferred for months on end by the hospital, but yesterday, it was decided by the Consultant Rheumatoloigist that I don`t actually have RA at all, and as I have suspected and voiced my opinion over the last three years, I do instead have fibromyalgia, and that I should have been on amytriptaline since the beginning.

I don`t know whether to laugh at the farcical nature of it all, or cry because I have spent nearly ten years of my life in constant pain and with disturbed sleep, and without having had the medication that could have made my life a lot more pleasant.

At least now I have an accurate diagnosis, and am awaiting the medication. Hopefully things will start to improve, but I have been told it is unlikely that things will resolve enough for me to go back to work.
Ho hum.
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Another Funeral

My dear friend Gerwyn`s mother has died, and the funeral will be held on Friday of this week.
Lord, have mercy !
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Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Month of May

During the Middle Ages, May was traditionally a month held to be in honour of the Mother of God. Statues in churches would be decorated with flowers, and acts of devotion made.

Although for us Orthodox, August is traditionally a focus of devotion to the Theotokos, with the Dormition Fast and the associated Paraclesis, there seems no reason why May could not also be a focus of special devotion to the Blessed Mother of God.

Information about the history of May Gardens can be found here :-

http://www.mgardens.org/NATFOLMG-UK.html

including information as to how to set up your very own May garden in honour of the Blessed Virgin.
Enjoy !
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Be Careful What You Feel Strongly About !

I read the Anglican newspaper, "Church Times", each week. There is much of interest to Christians from all denominations, and this week`s issue was particularly fruitful.


It transpires that an elderly anti-abortion protester, who had been sending graphic photographic images of a dismembered foetus to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk has subsequently been removed from the hospital`s waiting list for a hip replacement operation.

The Chief executive of the NHS trust concerned has said "The NHS has a zero tolerance policy to the abuse of staff..............We take such matters extremely seriously, and exercised our right to decline treatment to him for anything other than life-threatening conditions".

So Mr Ted Atkinson, aged 74, was not only sent to prison for 28 days, but has also been condemned to continue enduring pain from his hip.

I do not condone his targeting of individual members of staff at the hospital, but his punishment seems extreme and the actions of the NHS Trust where he should have had his operation seem completely disproportionate to his "crime" - after all, this old man had the temerity to highlight the gruesome fact that seven million babies have been deliberately killed with the legal sanction and financial support of the State.

I bet he would not have been targeted for such punishment if he had belonged to an ethnic minority or a minority religious group.

Sigh.

I fear the days of being actively persecuted for being a Christian are very close at hand............
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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Funeral Update

I thank you all for your kind prayers for Phyll, whose funeral was held yesterday.

It went very well indeed, and I was delighted that the Orthodox Contakion for the Dead was part of the service; it made me feel very at home :-)

Next week we will be interring her ashes next to those of her beloved husband Freddie, with whom she had shared over 60 years of happy married life.

Memory eternal !
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An Overheard Conversation

I was in a charity shop on Wednesday when I overheard the following conversation:

"Of course, X was such a wonderfully fun person, and then she went and got religion"

This person then hastened to add "Of course, not that I am saying that`s a bad thing, but she was never any fun after that...."

I am agog with curiosity as to what religion (or brand of denomination) X found, and what sort of fun she eschewed after her conversion...........
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Pink Snow

One of my favourite dog-walking routes is along an aveue of pink cherry-blossom bedecked trees, and over the last few days, the trees have been starting to shed the blossoms, petal by petal.

Imagine my delight when one day I walked under the trees,, and the breeze started to blow, and the petals dropped on and around me like a heavy shower of swirling delicate pink snow-flakes !

It was truly magical, and had to be experienced to be believed........ one of the meories that will last for ever :-)
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Monday, May 08, 2006

Creativity and Comfort

My much-loved ex- MIL asked me if I would design a special notice for her to send to inform the necessary friends and acquaintances of her mother`s death.
I felt privileged to be asked to do this, and I have spent quite some time searching for the right image.

There is an enormous amount of free Christian clipart available on the web, including a surprising amount of Orthodox clipart :-)

I was able, after about 40 minutes browsing, to find an appropriate clip of a Bible, Cross and flowers, which will not offend anyone`s religious sensibilties and which seemed dignified and appropriate for a death notice.
I am just waiting to hear from her now what arrangements have been made for the funeral, so these details can also be added to the notice.

I feel I have been able to do something positive to help, at a time of need, and as a tribute to Phyll too, which has been a comfort to me.
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Rain

Last night, it was raining really heavily, possibly the most torrential I can remember since we moved to this house.
It was great, lying tucked up nice and warm in bed, listening to the rain lashing down and thinking " I don`t have to be out in this !"

Luckily it had settled before DH had to drive to work this morning, and before I had to walk the girls to school................
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Friday, May 05, 2006

Another Prayer Request

My ex`s grandmother passed away this afternoon.

Prayers for the repose of Phyll`s soul, and for her family would be very greatly appreciated.

We are all very saddened by her death, although she had been in poor health for the last few years.

Memory eternal ............................
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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Prayer Requests

Of you charity, please pray for:-
my dear friend Michelle, whose mother has just passed away,
and for Gerwyn, whose mother is very seriously ill,
and for Mary and her family.

My heart aches for them all. Lord, have mercy.
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Monks and Missiles

Frequent readers will remember I blogged about our family trip to the holy island of Caldey last year.
This year they face a different battle with the authorities, namely a missile base planning on firing missiles after dark for practice purposes, as reported here .

The peace and tranquility on the island has to be experienced to be believed, and considering the monks are up at night for periods of prayer, and go to bed early, they will definitely be affected by night-time firing from a mile away............as will all the surrounding areas.

We visited Manorbier castle, and one of the very low flying training jets went past us, and I have to say it frightened the living daylights out of me..................
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Summer

Yesterday proved the truth of the old saying " Two swallows doth not a summer make.".

It was bitterly cold, cloudy, and with high winds when I walked Dd3 to school. By the time we got there, it was raining.

On the way back past the lake, I was dive-bombed by four lovely swallows, and despite the rain, I stopped for about five minutes and watched them performing the most amazing low-level flying...............and wondered if they thought they had taken a wrong turn when they migrated back from Africa ! These are the first swallows this year in our town, and normally their return is after the start of good weather.

As I type this, the sun is shining brightly and the sky is vivid blue, so hopefully we will have a warmer day today :-)
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