Monday, January 29, 2007

Getting Ready For Great Lent

That time of year is upon us, and as usual I am totally unprepared with the exception of THIS , which I posted last year.
I am unashamedly resurrecting it, and intend to use it I will have read some of the Early Fathers this year !
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Life With A Stove

I laughed so hard when I read this wonderful account of the trials and tribulations of another mother`s life with a woodburning stove that I nearly cracked a rib......... please go and read; you will be glad that you did !
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Blood Matters

After the birth of DD2 in 1989, I needed three units of blood transfused.
I was immensely grateful to the donors of that blood, and felt that I wanted to help others by donating my blood in turn.
And so I did, until I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis which meant that I could no longer donate my blood.

With the recent revelation from my Rheumatologist that I definitely do not have RA, but have instead Fibromyalgia, I presented myself for duty at the latest blood donor session here in Blogsville. After an extensive questionnaire and numerous senior members of staff being consulted, it was decided that I could be readmitted to the blood donor panel.

Until....someone noticed on the form that I had had my blood transfusion in 1989.

The guidelines have been changed so that no-one who received blood after 1980 is allowed to donate blood themselves on the grounds that they could be slowly incubating VCJD (mad cow disease).

So they were happy to initially use my blood, but not any more. I was rather disappointed, to put it mildly.

Apparently, there will be a test to detect VCJD in about two years, so if I choose to be tested then, if I am negative then I can donate again; if I am positive, my brain is slowly turning to mush.

The six million dollar question has to be :-
Do I really want to know ?

What would you do, gentle readers ?
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Mastering Ancient Technology !!

I think I have mastered the technique for lighting our stove now.....

Sat :
Stove 0, Me 1
Stove 0, DH 1
Today :
Stove 0, Me 1.

As long as you don`t mind using large amounts of wood, you can just pile it on and leave it burn (DH !) , but if you want to be more economical (that`s me !) , it does take considerably more attention, approximately every twenty minutes or so, to keep it going well on a sloooow burn.

I have to say it has been a steep learning curve, but it is sooo nice to be warm :-)
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Me Versus The Stove


Wednesday :
Stove 2, Me 1

Thursday: Stove 0, Me 1

Behold my chuckles of glee - but of course there is plenty of scope for the stove to fight back :-0

It has reduced me to alternating delight, incandescent rage and despair on some days, but it is wonderful once safely burning. .............
It gives me whole-hearted admiration for homesteaders who had to tend animals, family, home and crops as well as the stove - mine is nearly a full time occupation in itself, but I suppose/hope it gets easier as you get more used to it.


War has been declared.
It is a battle to the death.
It is me v the stove.......

After an hour of sitting next to it, cossetting the flames, adding more wood, the wretched thing went out ! The hulking big logs just failed to catch fire, despite loads of flames in the stove....

So it was round to the Petrol station to buy a big bag of kindling and some more firelighter sticks.
I will not be defeated.

Current score:-
Stove 2
Me 3

And the stove is still alight. Whether it will be by the time I get back from picking the children up from school is anybody`s guess, though !
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Monday, January 22, 2007

Long Life Quiz

This quiz purports to tell you how long you are likely to live....
I get 82......

You Will Die at Age 82
Congratulations! You take good care of yourself.You're poised to live a long, healthy life.
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Although I have been quiet on the blogging front, it has been fairly busy in real life.

We have just had a wood-burning stove fitted into our cold front room.
Although very frugal with our central heating, we have just had a gas bill in for £196 for the last quarter. It hasn`t even been that cold here.

Ouch, ouch, and more ouch....... And still the wretched front room was freezing cold.

The wood stove was a major capital investment, and involved two solid days of building work to get it professionally fitted, but it is up and running and boy, is it hot !

Once fully stoked up, it is impossible to wear a jumper in the same room as the stove. Yesterday it reached 94 degrees before it was severely banked down and left to tick over gently at a very pleasant 70 degrees. It is nice to be warm, and not have to worry about horrendous bills coming in at the end of the quarter.

We have bought in three cubic metres of wood, which is taking up a huge amount of room in the garage, and we have been offered free wood from the salvage yard where we bought the old Blue Pennant flagstones on which the stove rests.
All good stuff.

DD4 had a hospital appt on Friday to see Professor C, who is delighted with her little mouth and the new teeth which have arrived seem to be in good shape. X rays have been done of the tooth that needed a root canal last year, and that is looking good too.
She even has new teeth moving through the bone into the gum adjacent to that tooth, so she may , with luck, have new front teeth in about 9 to 12 months.

The recent bad storms have destroyed the boundary fence with the neighbours, so we have contacted their letting agents and asked that a message be sent to the landlord asking that the fence be fixed - we cannot take the dog into the garden at all unless he is on a lead, and frequent toilet trips are a bit of a chore.
This has been going on for ten days so far, with no sign of the fence being fixed.

Actually, if it just needed fixing, DH would have done it himself, but the whole things is in such bad repair it needs complete replacement. And we certainly are not paying for that when it isn`t legally our fence........
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Homer`s Vital Statistics

Kristen asked about Homer`s vital statistics :-)

He is a big bear !

From ear to ear, is 26 inches across.
When seated he is 36 inches tall.
His chest is 20 inches across.
When seated, the distance from outside back leg to back leg is 48 inches......
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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tagged Again !

I have just done a great mediaeval personality quiz thanks to The Traditional Frog , and I am Melancholic, which I think is pretty accurate.........

Though I could just envisage my family`s reaction if I were to suddenly decide to become a contemplative religious, which apprently is one of my best career options !
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Thursday, January 18, 2007


Courtesy of Ian via Mimi, I have a Title !

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Marchioness Elizabeth the Corpulent of Tempting St Mary
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

This is so apt, looking sadly at myself after the Nativity Festivities......
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tagged Again

I`ve been tagged by Dave Holford, so here goes !

Seven things which have changed my life, I suppose......

1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies:
Either Bp Kallistos` The Orthodox Church or the Rule of St Benedict.

2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music:

I can`t possibly limit this to one.
Beethoven`s Fur Elise
Bach`s Wachet Auf
Handel`s Zadok the Priest.

These three opened my eyes to classical music as a youngster in school, thanks to an inspirational music teacher.

3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue:

Cars. Even if it makes me a sad person.
And Baz Luhrman`s Romeo and Juliet.
And Apollo 13. Must have seen it at least ten times, and I still grip the edge of my seat even though I know they get back okay.

4. Name a performer for whom you suspend of all disbelief:

Tom Hanks.
The guy is a genius, even if I may never be able to stop being upset that he chose to be in The Da Vinci Code.........

5. Name a work of art you’d like to live with:

The Firstborn by Frederick Elwell.
I want it :-)

6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life:
Now this really is difficult.
Probably Shelock Holmes and the story involving the Musgrave Ritual, which inspired my fascination with criminology and CSI :-)

7. Name a punch line that always makes you laugh:
Not really a punch line but a quote from DD1 when confronted with Basil the dog`s latest act of perfidy:-
"You are nothing but a South Korean Happy Meal on legs !".
Guaranteed to make me smile every time........

I`m tagging DoomHamster, as it is about time she blogged.......
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Orthodox Roundup

Welcome to the latest Roundup, slightly later than planned due to Nativity/New Year and my birthday :-)

To start us off, Michael provides a sober and sorrowful commentary on the latest twist in the Moscow Patriarchate/ROCOR tale; that some parishes have split off and refuse to accept the reunion, and have thrown in their lot with the Holy Synod in Resistance. Desperately sad news.

Fr Joseph gives details of the very first joint service to be held by the reunited Russian Church.

The monks of Mount Athos have also made known their concerns about recent RC/Orthodox dealings as chronicled here .

Like me, Michael finds great spiritual benefit and solace in the Rule of St Benedict, and gives a great summary of it here as well as a glorious icon of St Benedict.

A lovely central European custom, which seems entirely in keeping with Orthodox praxis , that of the Epiphany Chalk, is described on a RC blog .

An Appalachian Deacon`s dream of buying a property and setting up a mission church is well worth a read here.

More remembrances of the blessed life of the recently reposed Anastasia Titov (may her Memory be Eternal!) are chronicled by Fr John and are well worth a read.

I absolutely loved this bumper sticker. If I drove a car, I would buy one in a flash :-)

Details of a modern miracle are recounted in a fascinating post .

I`m sure many of you have seen this site, but it is a new and fascinating resource to me !

To end, please read Fr Stephen`s lovely post about Weeping with the Mother of God. Absolutely wonderful.
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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Meet Homer !

Meet Homer !
As you can see, he completely occupies our king-size bed.......
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Monday, January 08, 2007

First Tag of 2007

Only the 8th of January and I have been tagged already, thanks to MaryPoppinsNOT :-)

She asks about six things peculiar to me. Well, my family would probably ask did you mean the first six hundred or the first six thousand , LOL.

1/ simply has to be hating having my hair touched or messed with by anyone else. Even family members.
I really dread the propect of having it done at the hairdressers. I hate having other people wash my hair, comb it, anything. Yuck.
It is a year since I last went to have my hair done, and I really need to go again soon. Gulp.

2/ I like going to the dentist. Seriously.
After a half lifetime of dreading going, I actually quite enjoy it now, despite invariably having to have fillings due to "dry mouth" syndrome. It might possibly have something to do with being "child-free" whilst in the dentist`s chair and not having to answer requests to do things, find things or deal with squabbling :-)

3/ I am physically and mentally incapable of walking past a bookshop. I have to go in and look around, even if I don`t buy anything at all.

4/ The thought of operating a sewing machine brings me out in a cold sweat, though I will happily knit complex Fair-Isle designs on jumpers. I blame it all on terrifying sewing lessons in secondary school.........

5/ I have actually read every single one of the huge number of books I have ever bought or ever been given, unlike my husband, who has only read four books in the last six years, and three of those were the first three Harry Potter books.
Unlike me, he has watched every DVD in the house whereas I have only watched about a quarter :-)

6/ I collect tea-towels. Every place we visit on holiday, I buy a souvenir tea-towel, and have done this for the last 23 years. Each day when I dry up the dishes, I get to relive happy memories of visits to nice places by using the tea-towels.
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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Oh, For A Quiet Life !

It has been a frantic few days !

On Thursday , DH decided we need to go to The Big City to spend some gift vouchers from his employers, which were burning a hole in his wallet, so off we went to browse at XYZ department store.

We didn`t see anything we liked till we got to the toy department, where we saw a rather large sized - but extremely limited -edition Teddy wearing a stripey jumper. He looked big, even in the store, but after we had to carry him to the car, he occupied the whole boot !
At home we have a king-size bed and he occupies the whole bed when sitting up :-)
He is utterly gorgeous, his name is Homer.

Photos to follow soon !

Then at 4pm DD4 suddenly doubles up, screaming in pain , complaining of tummy ache. She could only lie curled in a foetal position, pointing to her belly-button and screaming. Luckily our GP was able to see her straight away, incase it was appendicitis, but her temp wasn`t up, so he sent us home to wait and see, with strict instructions that if it got worse or there was no improvement in 12 hours to take her to casualty.

We didn`t have much fun for about three more hours, but then the pain eased off and she was able to sleep reasonably well. We, of course, were awake all night worrying.

Friday morning she felt fine again, thank God, but then one of the beloved budgies drops dead. Cue much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from the two young ones.

I then of course had to disinfect the whole cage in case the deceased was carrying anything contagious, and that took ages......

Saturday we went to Pets At Home to buy one budgie and ended up with two (£4 discount that way), called Charlie and Lola. Then DD2 and her boyfriend came over needing feeding at lunch, then DH`s mum, brother and niece came over bearing gifts for me.
By tea-time we were exhausted, so we ordered an Indian take-away and collapsed !

This morning I groaned at the thought of being 43, thenI opened my cards and presents (Seasons 8 -12 of ER ), lavender toiletries, choccies (!) and book tokens. I shall enjoy all of them immensely.

And the young ones go back to school tomorrow, so I can head to town and browse the charity shops to my heart`s content without having to have eyes in the back of my head wondering what the young ones are up to :-))
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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It Worked !

My Eureka! moment was not premature; my experiment with the timer worked, though I did eventually decide to make just the dough in the machine overnight and form and bake a dozen breadrolls out of it.
So when the young`uns woke up this morning, it was to the smell of freshly-baked bread, and it had a rapturous reception :-)
I`ve been very good and only eaten two of the rolls myself - but the day is yet young.......
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Sign of the Cross

I found a rather nice 20 page excerpt pdf file of a book about the Sign of the Cross by an Orthodox professor, Andreas Andreopoulos, today .
Go here for the download from Paraclete Press.

If unsuccessful, use the link from this page......
Enjoy !
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Eureka !

After determined perusal - nay, STUDY !- of my breadmaker`s manual, I have fathomed out the theory of operating the timer function.

I will experiment tonight and see if I can in fact succeed in having freshly made bread ready when I get up tomorrow morning.......

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North of Ithaka by Eleni Gage

Imagine, if you will, a family bereaved violently by the arrest, torture and execution of a woman.
Imagine what it must have been like to be that family, exiled far from home by the atrocities of war and living with the knowledge that family, friends and neighbours had been murdered, yet they had escaped to freedom.

Imagine that this was your family, your grandmother that had been murdered, and deciding to leave a successful life in Manhattan to go back to your family`s ancestral village and rebuild your grandmother`s home, despite prophecies of doom, gloom, death and disaster from formidable Aunts.

This is what Eleni Gage did, and she chronicles her new life in Lia, Northern Greece with the love and eloquence that bears tribute to the strength of roots and family and the desire to search out the truth.
She does eventually manage to reconcile her family to her decision, and has many adventures on the way. Most telling of all are her determined attempts to follow the traditions and customs of "her" village relating to almost every facet of everyday life, including attending Church very frequently indeed and finding her spiritual life deepening.

This is a delightful book, which I have re-read and will now be buying my own copy rather than hogging the local library`s copy ! The photographs are lovely, and make me hanker to visit Greece again one day.......
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Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year`s Resolutions

No excuses.

1/ Time for a decent amount of Prayer every single day. At least once. No matter how grumpy or tired I am .
2/ Learn to control my tongue. Think before I speak.
3/Spend more time catechising my young ones.
4/Learn to use the timer setting on my breadmaker. Don`t laugh !
I still haven`t fathomed the math to do it :-)))
Once I do, we can have fresh bread for breakfast each day.
5/ Stop eating "just because I am bored". The weight is slowly but inexorably increasing, and does my arthritic joints no good at all......
6/ Make a seriously determined attempt to brush up - and improve- my school Latin skills.

More to be added, I am sure.
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The Nos Galan Races

The Nos Galan races are a seriously big deal in our family :-)
My family came from the Rhymney family in South Wales, originally, and my mother vividly remembers watching the Nos Galan races with the whole enormous extended family every year until she married and moved away..........

What am I wittering on about, I hear you asking ?

For the short story go here

For the full story go here :-)

Guto Nyth Bran was a renowned runner in the 18th century in Wales, and the annual New Year`s Eve race is held in his honour.

Until about five years ago, when she became too infirm, my Great Aunt Ada would attend the races, even though she was then in her 80s, and then phone my mum to let her know the winner. Sadly Aunt Ada died recently, so another family tradition has been lost.......

Last night the weather conditions were truly atrocious, with gale force winds, torrential rain, hailstorms and two thunderstorms as well.
Last year nearly 600 runners took part, aged from 8 years old and upwards, in various categories including fancy dress.

Despite numerous googling, I have been unable to find out whether the weather did stop the Races last night.
More news as I get it....... LOL.

Despite the weather, it went ahead !

Hurdler Rhys Williams, son of 1970s legendary Welsh rugby player JJ Williams, held the torch as mystery runner in the Nos Galan road race in the Cynon Valley.
Williams led about 600 people from across the UK taking part in the annual festive race.

Organisers Rhonnda Cynon Taf Council said they estimated about 5,000 people came along to watch the event.
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NHS Chaos

It transpires that the NHS had to hire a doctor to fly in from Italy to provide on-call cover services for five days in Scotland at a cost of £5000 over Christmas.
The mind boggles.
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On Not Wasting Time

An interesting article on the Value of Time can be found here .

It spoke volumes to me.

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Happy 2007

Dear readers,
have a very happy and blessed 2007.

Of your charity, please remember our family in your prayers as we commemorate the year`s mind of my beloved step-father Gordon, who died on New Year`s Eve 2006, and also the 18th anniversary of my father`s death on January 14th.
It is going to be very tough on my mother.
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