Friday, December 29, 2006

A Knock At The Door

We were amazed when a policeman came knocking at our door this evening. This is a very rare event in our sleepy little town.

Apparently a house two doors away from ours was the subject of an attempted burglary earlier this evening, and the police were circulating a description of the man disturbed in the act.

We have carefully checked our security and the dog will be allowed to roam free downstairs each night, but DH goes back to working away for part of each week starting next week, and I am feeling very vulnerable at the thought of being alone with the small fry.

Prayers for the safety of all the residents of our area would be very much appreciated.
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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Orthodox Roundup 4

Welcome to Roundup 4 !
The blessings of the Feast of the Nativity to you all !

Deb has a great post about the significance and meaning of the icon of the Nativity of Christ here

Matt posts a great item, a homily by St John Chrysostom on the Feast of the Nativity. No wonder they call St John "the golden-mouthed" !

Fr Stephen has a lovely post about one of my favourite saints, St John of Kronstadt. With good reason, he is called the "priests` priest". We have an icon of him in our "beautiful corner", and his book "My Life in Christ"is truly a blessing of spiritual refreshment. My personal project for 2007 is to read through the entire book, hopefully to my spiritual benefit, as in the past I have only ever dipped into it and read a few pages at a time.......


Fr Stephen also writes about "How do we see our neighbour?" and the implications that our viewpoint of others has on showing our spirituality - or lack of it. All I can say is "mea culpa" and strive to do better......
He also describes the theory of the Atonement he was brought up with, and how different the Orthodox viewpoint is and also here.
Fr Stephen`s blog is an absolute gem and I cannot do it justice. Please go and read him :-)

What it truly means to live one`s life as a Christian is exemplified in the life of the recently reposed Anastasia Titov , described lovingly by Fr John Whiteford.

Fr Peter writes about the meanings behind the Orthodox funeral services here and here , and about Memorial services .

Laura blogs about Bibles as fashion in a fascinating post; be sure to read the illuminating comments too ! Empresses Irene and Theodora`s importance to the Church also captured Laura`s ready pen........


The undivided Church`s heritages, both Eastern and Western are important and to be cherished, and have especial meaning to those of us who are from Western European backgrounds. Full article here , and it is well worth reading.

Fr Joseph spills the scoop about a new film about St Nicholas of Myra , and MaryPoppinsNot engagingly describes St Nicholas` Day at her Byzantine Catholic home. Can I come next year, please ? LOL.
The Basilica of St Nicholas in Prison in Rome can be seen here courtesy of the RC blogger Orbis Catholicus.

And to end on a a note I found fascinating, those of you who like Star Trek might enjoy reading about the original Jewish source of the Vulcan "live long and prosper" greeting here .

See you all in the New Year !
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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Dune Views




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My Man And Me


DH at the main access point to the one dune where Basil specially likes to play.......
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Frozen Solid


Even the scrubby bushes were frozen, and you can see the frost on the sand of the dune.
It was an amazing experience, walking on frozen snow that audibly crunched as we stepped on it !
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Sun At Last


The sun was just cresting over one of the lower dunes when I took this.
The black dot is artifact, not reality !
The fog was clearing, but still present.
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Foggy Weather


The weather here has been atrocious; three days of seriously bad fog, both day and night. Yesterday as the weather improved, we took the dog for a walk over the dunes/scrubland, and it was a wintery wonderland of heavy frost.
I know it hasn`t shown up brilliantly, but it really was beautiful..........
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And Smiling


And a rather happier "Shepherd" , second from the right !
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Thoughtful


My pensive "Shepherd" at her school Nativity Play.
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Frozen In Time


This spider web was frozen solid yesterday in the bitter cold. No sign of the spider.
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Beep beep beep

Having spent ages uploading photos to Blogger, they have all disappeared into cyberspace.
I am not a happy camper.
I know that as soon as I reload them , they originals will all miraculously appear and then I will spend ages deleting them.
Aaaagh.
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Flora and Fauna At Margam



Deer and fungi !
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Day Out 2



More photos of the grounds.
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Day Out


We had a day out to Margam Park a little while ago.

The castle is quite spectacular, set in wonderful grounds.
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The Rainbow



This was the view from my beloved Garden Window a few weeks ago.

I kept forgetting to post it ! I have never managed to photograph a rainbow before.....

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Favourite Picture




For your delectation I would like to show you one of my all-time favourite pictures, a huge copy of which I have framed and hanging in my bedroom :-)
It is called "The First-born" by Frederick Elwell, and the original is at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.
This is the best image I can find on the Web, but it doesn`t even begin to do it justice. The father in the picture has a posy of cowslips to give to his wife .........ahhhh.
One day, I will get to see it "close-up and personal", LOL.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ponderings

Whilst DH and I were waiting to enter the school to see DD4 in her Nativity Play yesterday, it was highly entertaining to overhear the conversation going on behind us about political correctness.

Apparently there are moves afoot in rural Norfolk, of all places, to ban Christian -based Nativity Plays in council run schools there. The rumblings of discontent from the parents at our school were both vociferous and vehement; pity help our dear Headmaster should he ever decide to abolish our "Early Years Department"`s play.
More than one person said how it makes Christmas come alive and have meaning for them.

Nativity Plays as an evangelistic tool ? Why ever not?
After all, the medieval Easter Cycle and Morality plays were immensely popular as educative tools for the illiterate.

Now we have instead so many people who are theologically illiterate and know virtually nothing of the message and basics of Christianity..........
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Strange But True

The world`s tallest man has helped to save some Chinese dolphins by reaching into their stomachs.
Full story here
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Conspiracy Theories Debunked

For those of you who like to follow English news, the official report into events surrounding the death of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, can be downloaded/read here

Personally, I reserve judgement on the whole matter :-)
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Monday, December 11, 2006

Busy Busy Busy

I imagine that I`m not the only one up to the eyes in busyness at the moment !

On Friday last week was the Christmas Fayre, and I was shanghaied into helping.
Being a shy retiring type, I would possibly never have volunteered, but I had great time and would certainly do it next year. I had the toy stall and bric- a - brac, and took £47 , which was good considering most stuff was priced at 5p - 20p , LOL.

The cake stall was a great success, and this year was done in tribute to a little Muslim boy, only a year older than DD4, who died this summer. His mother and I always used to smile and say hello each morning, as we took the children to school.

The parents and the school are going to erect a big circular seat around one of the lovely trees in the playground, with a plaque in his memory, and they needed to get £350 to do so, and they did, through large numbers of people baking and donating cakes etc to the cake stall, plus those who kindly made donations .

We are all so pleased at the success, and that his extended family were there with us.

On Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon is DD4`s Nativity Play - proper non -PC one, complete with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus ,shepherds, wise men and the innkeeper. On Tuesday evening is DD3`s Christmas Concert, filled with Christmas carols, poems and drama.

I still have to buy Christmas cards :-)
Most presents have been ordered and the rest will be done today, I hope, barring disasters.
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Orthodox Roundup 3

Welcome to issue 3 of the Roundup :-)

Fr Stephen gives us a seasonal start with a review of the new Nativity Film and also a commentary on the pre-Communion prayer:

Behold: I draw near to the Divine Communion.

Burn me not as I partake, O Creator,
For Thou art a Fire which burns the unworthy,
Rather, cleanse me of all defilement.

Julio has a fantastic post about having a crisis not of faith, but of praxis, here and it is a situation I can certainly resonate with, looking back at some points in my own life.........

Some of us sure have some seriously interesting hobbies ! Check out Papa Herman`s amazing bicycle inner tube creations !

The Christian history of London may need to be re-written follwing some interesting archaeological discoveries at the site of St Martin in the Fields, which shows evidence of Christian graves (possibly royalty) dating back to the time of Queen Bertha, 1400 years ago, pre-dating St Paul`s Cathedral`s original foundation by almost 200 years.

The tomb of St Paul the Apostle has been re-discovered in Rome, buried in the Church of St Paul Without The Walls, and a late 4th century Christian church has been discovered in Israel, believed to have been built on the site where the Ark of the Covenant was originally housed.

Philippa`s own round-up is well worth a visit here , as is the North Texas Orthodox Missions site here, which links to great music, podcasts, sermons and much more. I`ve bookmarked it and I am working my way steadily through its resources.

Matushka Jenny has completed two glorious new icons of St Barnabas and St John the Forerunner , thereby giving me a reason to own up to covetousness.......
Another iconographer has set up a webcam so you can see him work on his latest icons , which is a great idea.

Nathan Hoppe reviews the practice of the 40 days commemoration of the departed in relation to his beloved wife Lynette, and their first family Thanksgiving without her.

An interview with Russian Old-Rite Believers can be found here, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
A particular delight was to find some of the sayings of Mother Gavrilia avalable online here .

Fr John gives a sobering insight into apparently rapidly deteriorating conditions for Christians in Bulo Burto, Somalia, where it has been decreed that anyone not observing the islamic prayer rule will be beheaded.....

Alana writes eloquently of her experiences on St Nicholas` Day whilst living in Switzerland. In our family we observe the tradition of putting our slippers outside our bedroom doors, which get filled with chocolate coins and the small ones receive appropriately-themed small gifts. December 6th is always eagerly anticipated in our house !
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Happy St Nicholas` Day !

A very happy St Nicholas` Day to all my readers !

The young ones laid their slippers by their bedroom doors this evening, in the hope that they would wake tomorrow and find them filled with chocolate coins.

As St Nicholas` official helper in our home, I have ensured they will be, and under the slippers are Christmas themed coluring/activity books and some lovely things I printed out from the St Nicholas resource website .
We will also be making some special cookies.

Have a blessed Feast day !
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Singing Loudly

It appears that even the birds in cities have to shout above the roar of the traffic and the general urban noise...........

Today`s Daily Telegraph reports that research in London and Paris shows birds singing at much louder levels and in a different way than their rural counterparts in Thetford Forest and Fontainebleu.

People are louder too, in my own limited piece of research conducted yesterday whilst shopping in The Big City. As I grow older, I am finding that I enjoy the bustle, hubbub and crowds far less than I used to even five years ago.
It was fun to shop there, but I wouldn`t want to live in Big City.
Shudder.
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Monday, December 04, 2006

My Day

DD1 and I went by bus to The Big City (about one and half hours away by bus) to do some shopping today.

We stopped off at Starbucks, as it is the nearest one to the bus station, and I was very restrained - I had a Tall Soy Gingerbread Latte and it was scrumptious. Mmmmmmmm !
I passed on the offer of whipped cream, and was a little surprised to be greeted by the barista saying "Merry Christmas", LOL. If it was already Christmas I wouldn`t be fasting :-)

Some jolly good bargains were obtained, and the rain held off until we got back on the bus to come home, which was jolly good timing. The presents have been safely secreted on top of cupboards, well away from the gaze of the small ones, and we are all winding down ready for bed.
Not terribly exciting, but a good day nevertheless.....
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