Friday, June 30, 2006

The Convent Continued

I must confess, I was full of good intentions about writing a full report of this week`s programme yesterday, when it was all fresh in my memory, but I just didn`t get chance to do so, and consequently, I have forgotten chunks of it :-(

Ian, you asked about the guided meditation - the women were "talked through" a biblical passage by one of the nuns, and then were told to sit or lie quietly and just imagine themselves walking along with Jesus and what He would say to them.
It seemed rather an odd concept to me, but then, I`m not RC. Perhaps this is much more common in their religious tradition.

When the atheistic poet Victoria returned from her weekened exeat with her menfolk, she smuggled in chocolates, half a dozen bottles of wine and bath oils, which she and her partner in crime Angela took care to hide away from everyone else in their group as well as from the Nuns, which the Narrator commented was utterly against the Nuns` belief in holding everything in common and sharing. They later bunked off to a shed in the garden and got drunk together, which seemd utterly stupid and pointless. They were behaving like rather selfish juvenile teenagers, to be honest, which I thought was very disappointing.

Iona the folk singer was really kicking against the harness of discipline and a timetable of services, and was heard to complain to the Abbess that she wanted to be free to worship God in her own way, which did make me wonder why on earth she wanted to go to a convent of strict enclosure in the first place :-0

The abbess and the other nuns were very patient with her, and when , almost two-thirds of the way through, they were granted visits from their families, Iona`s Christian brother came to see her. She was telling him how frustrated she felt with the strict regime,and for every woe she discussed, he had a reasoned and coherent argument as to why it was a good thing and why it could be helping her, which drove her nuts because she was looking for tea and sympathy, LOL.
He eventually said that if the nuns had been living and praying this way for hundreds of years, it was obviously of value and obviously working, which she should consider carefully before dismissing it as valueless and irrelevant to her lifestyle and "needs".
She did in fact take this on board, and after much thought, began to "see" what the point of the disciplined prayer structure and silence was. She had the grace and courtesy to apologise to the Abbess for her curtness and rudeness in their previous conversation, which was equally graciously and lovingly received.

We saw her after Compline, when the Sisters had left to observe Great Silence, in the Chapel, singing "Amazing Grace". The words "I was blind, and now I see" were amazingly apposite and poignant for the revelation she had just had.

Victoria feels she has become more tolerant of others, less selfish, and feels she is able to control her temper and reactions better. Her inconsiderate behaviour to the others would seem to belie that, though.

Debi, who was abandoned as a small child by her mother, is developing a lovely, healing and loving warm relationship with her mentor,who had been widowed before entering the Convent, and we hear the nun saying to Debi that she wished she had been Debi`s mother, and Debi saying she wished that the lovely nun had been her mother too. It was very touching. Debi is learning to trust and to love and to develop a sense of self-worth, and is obviously deriving great benefit from the services, which she attends diligently and punctually, unlike the others !

Anyway, running out of time now, but will try to write more soon. Have to go get the little ones from school, then we are going to my mother`s for tea.
Take care, my friends, and God bless you all !
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The Zoo

I have now just about recovered from our school trip to the Zoo on Wednesday :-)

We left at 09.22, and after being stuck in a queue for a while, we got into Bristol Zoo at 10.45. We had three hours at the zoo before journeying back home.

As Bristol Zoo only occupies a 12 acre site, they no longer keep any "big" animals like elephants or giraffes, though they do have a pair of lions and a breeding pair of gorillas, who this year have had a baby.
Conservation is a major part of the work, and they have extremely rare red pandas and okapis, which are part of breeding programmes and animals are regularly returned to the wild in safe habitats, which is brilliant. There are loads of small mammals and birds there too.

The seal and penguin enclosure is fantastic, and you walk in descending levels until you are actually underneath their swimming areas, whereupon you walk in a glass tunnel with them swimming around you,which is truly amazing.
There are also walk-through aviaries, where the birds and rare bats can fly around you.

We saw pretty much everything, except the giant tortoise and the aquariums (sob!), as Abby was exhausted by that stage and just wanted to sit quietly under the trees, which we did till it was time to catch the bus home. She thoroughly enjoyed the day, but slept most of the way home. She also slept a solid 11 hours that night too, which was nice.

Her parting comment ?
"Can we come back five more times, Mummy?"
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Guitar Versus Gregorian

Interesting to read this morning that the Pope wants guitars and tambourines etc to be removed from use in liturgical music, and advocates the restoration of Gregorian Chant for the Mass.

About time too :-)

Can you imagine our glorious Liturgy accompanied by guitars ? Shudder.
I am sure there will be many delighted RCs ...................
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Discrimination By Any Other Name

In the UK, up till now it has been the case that deaf children studying languages are exempt from doing the "listening" part of language exams, for a blatantly obvious reason - the fact that they cannot hear, therefore cannot listen to someone speaking and then respond to that person.

The Government has now, in its infinite wisdom (ha!) decided that all disabled children must be treated equally, and so deaf children will in future have to sit the "listening" component, which they will of course fail miserably, whereas previously, their grades would be made only on the parts of the exam they have done.

It is rumoured that the new regulatons will also mean that blind children, who rely on "readers" to tell them questions that they need to answer will also be deprived of this Help, for the same reasons.

Am I the only one who finds all this ludicrous, unfair and criminally stupid ?

It will deter academically able children from undertaking subjects for which they may well have a marked aptitude, because the odds are so heavily stacked against them.

Surely that is discriminatory enough against handicapped (or as we should call it now, "challenged") children?

The system sucks.
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Saturday, June 24, 2006


Yesterday, DH and I were walking through town and outside one clothes shop was a rack of nice 3/4 length trousers, in a variety of summery colours.

I was debating which colours to buy, as they were ridiculously cheap (£2.99 each), and I lifted one off the rack to see that emblazoned across the rear of the trousers was the immortal legend "Miss Sexy".

Needless to say, they were replaced on the rail in short order. No way was I going to parade around with that on my backside :-)

But what sort of self-obsessed narcisistic tasteless noodle would WANT that on their rear end for others to laugh at ? Not me, for sure.

Sigh - I am still looking for decent summer trousers to wear whilst walking the dog. Ho hum.
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Friday, June 23, 2006

The Convent Continued

This week was really interesting.

The group were doing guided meditation (a dangerous thing in the eyes of the Orthodox Church, and for jolly good reasons), and the one woman who was desperately seeking God, and was just as equally terrified of Him, "heard " Jesus say to her "Get up, little girl".
This really shook her, but after the meditation was the start of Great Silence so she didn`t get chance to discuss it with her spiritual mentor.

The early services next morning showed the Gospel reading at Mass, which described Jesus saying to the girl whom everyone believed to have died, "Talitha Cumi", and this poor woman was nearly prostrate with fear at the coincidence.

It literally reduced her to tears and fear, that Jesus had spoken to her in the quiet of her heart, then repeated His message in the Gospel reading at Mass.

Her mentor was very reassuring to her, explaining that sometimes God does do some quite interesting things to get our attention and to show his love for us. She did feel better, but felt unable to receive a blessing at Mass subsequently, saying she felt too unworthy to approach whilst the priest held the Body of Christ.

Her nun-mentor said most emphatically that it was precisely because of our unworthiness that we all need to approach to receive healing and blessing in order to survive and to grow.

The woman living in a menage a trois heard that her "friend`s" father had died suddenly, and she was anguishing over whether to go to the funeral. She decided not to, but after much thought asked the Abbess if she could have a "weekend pass" to meet up with the two men.

She commented that the complete selflessness of the nuns had made her realise how selfish and demanding she was in her marriage, and the expectation that her husband would put up with the other man because she "needed" to live like that. She said she wanted to talk to her husband about how he felt and what he needed and wanted, and that she felt she was likely to hear things that she was afraid to hear.

The high achiever business woman said that she felt afraid to think about what life was going to be like outside the convent, as did the previous woman.

They all seem to have felt very very secure in the Enclosure, with the example of Iona, the young evangelical who was really struggling with the seven services each day and found them regimenting and limiting her freedom of expression.

All I could think was that it was a good thing she wasn`t in an Orthodox Convent, LOL. In this Convent they had a nun doing liturgical dance, which seemed a pretty free-form mode of worship to me :-)

Looking forward to next week....

BTW Ian, have you tried logging into the site using a "global" email address like a Goggle account to see if that makes any difference ? I can send you an invite for a Google email account if you want !
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Mr Chewy is No More

Mr Chewy is Basil the puppy``s very first- and favourite- toy.
Today, we had to declare Mr Chewy officially defunct.

Basil has literally loved him and chewed him to bits. The stuffing came out last week, and despite my sewing repairs, Mr Chewy is now in bits and cannot be resuscitated any more.

We can buy Basil more toys, but there can never be another Mr Chewy, the pink squeaky dinosaur......
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I`m a Cookie !

But you all already knew that, right ? LOL.

See what kind of cookie you are............
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Monday, June 19, 2006

Going to the Zoo

Dd4`s class are going to the Zoo next Weds, and they are asking for a parent to accompany each child. Obviously, two members of staff is simply not enough to control 27 boisterous and wildly-excited 3 and 4 year old children, hence the need for parents to go too.

I can`t wait; it must be about 15 years since I last went to the zoo.......

*Bounces with anticipation*
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Whilst DH and I were out shopping, we saw a man wearing a black T-shirt, emblazoned with the following words in white :

"No, I don`t suffer from Tourette`s syndrome. If I call you a f**king c**t it`s because you are."

I was stunned, I must admit.
How on earth anyone would have the nerve - or even worse, feel it is acceptable- to parade around wearing something like that defeats me.
I found it offensive in the extreme, for lots of reasons.

I must be getting old.......
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Nice News

DD3 had a positive visit to fracture clinic at the local hospital on Friday; she can now dispense with the sling, but no running, skipping or jumping etc for the next three weeks, which means she won`t be able to take part in Sports Day at school, much to her annoyance.

Saturday was the school`s summer fete, which went well, with a good turnout and glorious sunshine. We all had a great time :-)

Sunday was Father`s Day, so Many Years ! to my dear husband !!
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The Suffering Christians of Kosovo

Please take time to visit and publicise the blog of Holy Archangels Monastery near Prizren, Kosovo.

The Decani monastery website hosts photos of the Archangels monastery here

The horors continue, yet so many in the free West continue to ignore what is happening in Kosovo.

Lord, have mercy !
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Friday, June 16, 2006

The Convent Programme

I watched the first programme about the Convent with great interest and a certain amount of trepidation..the series at the Monastery was so good I didn `t see how this one could beat it, but they do have an interesting mix of women.

The atheistic poet in a menage a trois struck me as quite selfish; it was so obvious when they interviewed her "permanant" partner that he was deeply unhappy on a fundamental level at having to share her with another man, and that he was afraid of losing her, although he said he never knew what was going to happen from one season to another, whether their relationship would survive. I felt so sorry for him.

When her interesting relationship was revealed at the convent, it was in the context of a teaching session on the Ten Commandments, when she was trying very hard to semantically justify her actions on the grounds that as she wasn`t married, she wasn`t being unfaithful .

Good try, but the good nun wasn`t having any of it ! She remarked quite acerbically that yes, it was perfectly possible to love two men, but that although one can`t control one`s emotions 100%, one can certainly control one`s actions, and that she didn`t *need* to be sleeping with both of them !

Interestingly, by the end of programme 1, she felt the need to go up to receive a blessing form the priest during the Mass along with the other women(none of whom were RC), which hse had steadfastly refused to do previously in the week. She may well turn out to be the one who benefits most from the 40 days at the Convent......

More later ! But if you cant` wait, browse the website !
Apparently, if you have broadband, you can watch the programme online......
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Dd4 is now on her third course of antibiotics in less than a fortnight ; our GP phoned me yesterday to say the MSU results of the urine test we sent to the hospital on Tuesday show her infection needs different antibiotics.

Good thing she is so good at taking her medicine.............

On a happier note, her abscess appears to ahve cleared up completely:-)

DD3 goes to fracture clinic this morning to review the injured shoulder, so we shall wait and see what happens next.

Yesterday and today are "No Uniform Day" in their school, so they have to send in a forfeit of packet/tinnned food or drink, or toiletries instead, all to raise money at the school fete on Saturday , when it will be used for a tombola.......
but the amount of time they have spent agonising over what to wear, anyone would think they were going to meet the Queen, not just go to school.
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mother Knows Best

DD3 had a great school trip, and was laughing as she told me that it did indeed rain at one point; the whole group had to shelter under some trees but she was fine because she had her light showerproof jacket.

Object lesson : Mother does know best.

She now stands in awe of my weather predicting abilities, when even the staff believed the weather forecast and didn`t take coats.

Me, I just look out of the window at the gathering rainclouds and think: Heck, looks like it`s going to rain today ! :-)
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Friend in Need

You may remember I blogged about my friend Gerwyn, whose mother died a few weeks ago.

His father died last night.

Lord, have mercy on Gerwyn and his family.....
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What I Did Today


Took DD3 to school with packed lunch and all items necessary for her school field trip to the National Botanical Gardens. Insisted she took a waterproof jacket, much to her disgust.

Obtained fresh Urine sample for GP to send to the lab for DD4`s UTI - I am convinced she has a different infection, as her urine tested +ve for nitrites this morning, as well as 3+ white blood cells, which is not good.Viisted doctor to drop off sample.

Went to the dentists, and DD4 had her huge abscess (which has returned now the original antibiotics have been finished ) drained by the simple expedient of the dentist drilling a hole straight through the tooth, and she sat there and didn`t flinch, despite no anaesthetic. No way I would have done that, I assure you !!
She was much more upset by the vile taste of the pus draing into her mouth......

Shortly after I got her home, and tanked her up on calpol and nurofen, she started to scream. And I mean scream. Very, very, very loudly.
For 90 seconds every 2 and 1/2 minutes.
For three hours.

I phoned the dentist and they saw her ASAP this afternoon, when of course she had stopped screaming twenty minutes before !
The dentist was great, discussed the options with DD4 and I, and the long and short of it was that she basically needed a root canal job, much to my horror.

Thanks to the miracles of local anaesthetic cream, it was done with minimal fuss and hopefully the problem has been fixed. She is happy, cheerful and pain-free without pharmacology :-)

I am frassled, stressed and utterly exhausted, and can`t wait to get to bed !
Heartfelt thanks for all your prayers !
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Bully Boy

Philippa said she thought I was being very calm about DD3`s injury.

I wasn`t really :-)
When I saw the boy`s mother yesterday, I was still so upset and angry that I found it very hard to even say hello as we passed in the street, I`m ashamed to say.......

I am pleased to say that the boy in question was back in school today, and he apologised publicly to DD3 in front of all the kids who witnessed the original incident, which I thought was very brave of him.
DD3 accepted the apology, and there the matter ends, I hope.
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Monday, June 12, 2006


I should of course add that I covet your kind prayers for DD3 & 4, and for me.
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Woeful Weekend

Just when you wonder how bad it can possibly get..................

On Friday, we had a call from school to say DD3 had had an accident. DH zoomed down to get her, and a very tearful little girl came home.

It transpires that one of the boys in her class has started being quite rough with the girls, and yesterday he chose to grab DD3, pin her arms and spin her round, then shoved her. Needless to say, she landed really badly and has hurt her arm. She can move it, but it is sore. Luckily she landed on the grass field, not the concrete yard !

I phoned the school and arranged to see the Head, who is a great man, and he saw me straightaway. Sod`s law, the CCTV in the playground doesn`t have quite enough angle of view to cover the playing field as well as the yard, so the episode wasn`t filmed, though there were plenty of witnesses.

The Head is bouncing mad, especially when it transpires that the same boy had already shoved DD3 over previously that day, and once the day before.

He has put this lad in the school ASBO book, he will lose all his playtime Monday and have a carpeting by the Head in private in Monday morning. He will be watched like a hawk, and any further problems and his parents will be called in.

All well and good, apart from a rather sore DD3.

By Sunday she was in a lots more pain, so I took her to A&E .

It took an hour to get there, and it took a further two hours for her to be seen and diagnosed as having a greenstick fracture of her humerus right up by the shoulder. Too high up the arm for a plaster cast, so she has a fetching sling, and copious amounts of paediatric painkillers. We return to the hospital on Friday for an appointment in the fracture clinic........

DD4 has a rip-roaring urinary tract infection back again and needs to be close to the loo at all times, and is refusing to be separated from Daddy for longer than five seconds...... .. so you can imagine how happy she was when she woke up this morning and found that Daddy had gone back to work.
Today will be spent chasing the results of DD4`s MSU results, arranging an appointment with a hospital consultant and sorting out another dental appointment as she is complaining that her gum hurts again, where she had an abscess last week.
Ho hum.
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup Woes

For the record, let it be known that I really dislike football.

My DH is utterly glued to the TV because of the World Cup.
Every now and then he calls me to sit and watch with him, to keep him company.

I have so far refrained from telling him that I would rather be disembowelled in the woods with a blunt stick , but I sit there for a while, with a good book instead.

By the end of the tournament it may be a different matter :-)

On a better note, he is now addicted to House MD too :-)
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Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Convent

Next week`s TV promises to have at least one interesting programme.........#

The BBC is screening part one of a series of programmes filmed at a RC Poor Clare convent in Sussex, with four women staying at the enclosed order convent for forty days.

The women have a variety of backgrounds, from an Evangelical recovering alcoholic to a free-thinking, free-living, open-relationship, avowed atheistic poet who believes that the Commandments are outmoded.

It should be interesting to see how the good Sisters manage to relate to that latter woman whose life is so much at variance with their own, and from those of most other layfolk who are religious adherents.

The Beeb has obviously chosen the latter woman for shock value :-)
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Friday, June 09, 2006

One of Those Weeks

On Monday, DD4 complained and cried because Daddy had to go to work and wouldn`t be home till Weds night.
And she complained ! Sobbed and wailed for over an hour.
Tuesday morning the same, and was very clingy when I took her to school.
I had just got on the bus and paid for my ticket to go to town to meet up with my mum, when I had a phone call from school to say DD4 was not well. Luckily the bus goes right past the school, so I hopped off and picked her up.

It looked like another urinary tract infection, but she had only just finished a course of antibiotics for a dental infection, so I phoned the doctor and got an appointment for 12.20.
We caught another bus up to town, and met my mum until it was time to take little one to the doctor.

A MSU has been sent to the lab, plus another course of Trimethoprim started and a referral to the Consultant to investigate the cause of the infections.
I have been testing her urine daily since with Multistix, and there is still something amiss as there is still protein and white blood cells in the urine, although she is mercifully asymptomatic.

Tuesday afternoon she spent happily playing outside in the glorious sunshine , until she came in and said "Mummy, Basil`s got your bracelet!" (which is what she calls my set of black bead prayer rope). The wretched dog had been in my handbag and taken it out !!

I ran into the garden to find that the rope had disappeared and Abby duly informed me that Basil had eaten it. I checked his mouth, no sign.
I walked all over the garden, no sign.
I was upset and cross that I had not zipped up my handbag, and then worried about the effect of a set of prayer beads in a dog`s digestive tract. I know we have pet insurance, but I still didn`t want to have the dog needing surgery :-)

DH was sufficiently concerned to come home Tuesday night and book some annual leave , so Abby and Helen were delighted to have Daddy home.

On Wednesday, however, I found the dog hiding things in the back of the bushes in the shrubbery, and guess what was there ? My prayer rope ! It has been dutifully cleaned and is drying out. Whew.

Things are starting to get back to normal, thank Heaven !
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Monday, June 05, 2006

A Knock on the Door From Poland

I went to the Post Office this morning to send some parcels, and had to pay using my debit card, as paying the plumber this morning had eaten the rest of my cash. The clerk asked me if I wanted "cash back" from my account, and I nearly said no, when I thought that an extra ten pounds would be useful in case of emergency, so I opted to withdraw the money from my debit account.

Later this afternoon, I was comfortably ensconced on the sofa watching an episode of House MD, when there was a loud knock at the door. I got up a tad reluctantly, as this was the third interruption in one episode, but I am really glad that I did.

At the door was a pretty young woman, who handed me a card, explaining who she was and why she was here. She was from near Warsaw, Poland, and was in Britain selling some of her drawings door-to-door here in order to fund her way through art college. (This does happen quite a lot, especially since the advent of dirt-cheap air fares within Europe).

Her English was quite limited, but her art work was absolutely superb. DoomHamster and I stood enthralled as we looked through her work, and we each bought a drawing.
She was so thrilled when we said we wanted to buy two, she hugged us both. We were equally thrilled with the lovely pictures we had acquired so unexpectedly.

After a few minutes I went out into the street to see if she had had any more luck in selling her work. She obviously hadn`t judging by the fair distance up the street she had travelled, which made me quite sad.
I do hope she will be ok, and that she will be able to work her way through college, for her talent is outstanding and her determination to succeed laudable.

After she had gone, I began to think of how much more I could have done for that girl. It was a hot day, and she was trudging from door to door, and to my shame, I realised that I had been so absorbed in praising her talent that I didn`t even offer her a cold drink or a snack.

I might have supoported her work, but I did not exercise hospitality as St Benedict commands us to: "Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way," Benedict wrote."The love of Christ must come before all else."

Although my police neighbours would have said that in light of a spate of recent distraction burglaries in our town that I was prudent not to allow a stranger into my home, I feel guilty and ashamed that I did not...........
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

"Fertility treatment has been suspended and obese patients told to lose weight before operations by an NHS primary care trust with an £18 million deficit.
The rationing will save the North Lincolnshire trust more than £1 million this year."


"Suspension of IVF for a year will not affect those who have started treatments but will hit 40 to 50 new couples seeking treatment. It should save £75,000 to £100,000."

from the Daily Telegraph

Shame they don`t stop the abortions; that would probably save them even more money than the IVF.........
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Convent Reality TV

Those of us who followed the spiritual and emotional journey of the men who went to the Benedictine Worth Abbey for a reality TV show last year, may well be interested in the next offering, women going to the Poor Clare Convent in Arundel, Sussex.
Full story here

I would love to see an Orthodox monastery in action, personally, but I am sure this will be interesting !
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Chapter of Disasters

One poor young teenager will never live down what happened when he was left Home Alone..........
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More Family News

My parents in-law from my previous marriage were extremely excited last week, as they have received an official invitation to attend a Royal garden party at Buckingham Palace, to meet the Queen, in July.

This is likely to prove to be the very best excuse ever for my lovely MIL to go clothes shopping :-)

No cameras are allowed for security reasons, but an official DVD will be made of the event which they can get as a souvenir.
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Birthday Milestone.

My beloved mum has celebrated her 70th birthday.

Her home was filled with flowers , gifts and cards - a tribute to how much she is loved by her family, friends and neighbours.

Many Years !!!!
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Gentle reader,
Be warned.
Despite their many and varied well-documented health benefits, tomatoes should be classified as a cookware hazard.

It seemed like a good idea at the time to cook a double quantity of tomato-based pasta sauce in DH`s nice, high-sided, non-stick wok.
I have done it often enough before; but what I failed to remember was that then it had been in my old , indestructible stainless-steel wok.

The acidity of the tomatoes has eaten right through the non-stick coating............
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