Sunday, August 31, 2008

What a Weekend......

We have been running round like mad things buying new uniform, shoes etc for the young ones, who go back to school next Thursday.

They have both grown like weeds over the holidays, so I shall blame it fairly and squarely on the inclement weather !!

DD3 has wide feet and is in between a 4 1/2 and size 5 adult shoe, so it is really hard to get anything that fits. Her new school shoes set me back £32. Gulp.
DD4's feet have grown, so she needed new shoes and new trainers for PE, so that set me back another £64.
Ironically, the cost of their new uniform was only £37 in total - but they have expensive feet :-)

Stationery etc has been purchased, and DH is picking up DD3's new lunchbox on his way home on Weds, so I believe we are pretty sorted now. Only their hair to be cut, and our hairdresser is visiting us on Tuesday to sort that out.

I shall really miss them; I have so enjoyed having them home for the summer.

Yesterday in particular was bedlam.
We have quite poor TV aerial reception here, and our Freeview box was not giving us many channels or consistent picture quality, so when DH saw that Argos were doing a special package, he jumped at it. We have got a brand new Sky viewing box, new satellite dish, free installation for a one-off payment of £60, plus a four month free trial of various Sky packages. Just a simple Freeview box is £40 in Asda, so it was a good deal and we can now watch programmes, so he is very happy.

I am not a big TV watcher, as I much prefer to read, though I will watch documentaries, so I am happy we have got several History channels to choose from :-)

Anyway, I digress ! ..... we didn't know what time the engineer was arriving, only that it would be sometime in the morning on Saturday. So I indulged in a spot of overdue house cleaning, completed my ironing and was generally feeling virtuous.Then the engineer phoned to say he would not arrive till after 1pm.

In order to fill in the time productively, we decided to transfer the contents of my bedroom bookcase - all my religious books- to the dining room and DH has put up three shelves. Of course, I needed to overspill books on to the sideboard too, as three shelves wasn't quite enough and there wasn't room for a fourth shelf. ......

Then we decided to empty out some cupboards in the dining room so I could transfer my cookery books there, so the kitchen bookcase could go into DD4's room, as she has run out of space for her books !

And then I needed to find room for my saucepans, in the kitchen, so we needed to transfer a storage unit from the garage into the kitchen.
Nine hours later - I kid you not ! - we had finished, exhausted. The Sky box is working well, to everybody's delight.

I slept very well last night :-)
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Asking For Prayers Again

...... for an elderly distant relative of ours, Peter, who died suddenly yesterday.

His family contacted me early this morning, saying that my name and phone number was on a list of people he had carefully drawn up and stated that he wanted to be notified of his death.

I went straight to the icon corner and wept. Although I had never met Peter in the flesh, due to geographical constraints and mutual family commitments, we corresponded regularly and spoke occasionally on the phone.

We met due to our common interest in chasing our family trees; he was descended from one sibling and our branch of the family from another sibling. We were able to give each other so much information about both sides of the family, and we shared so many laughs. We had planned to meet up in the next eighteen months, but it is not to be now. I do so wish that I had been able to meet him.

May God rest his soul.
Memory eternal to Peter............
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Roof Angels

Roof Angels are a very common feature of medieval churches in the UK.
Here is a whole site about them !
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Wooden Churches In Romania

This site is amazing !

It has panoramic moving views of some incredible wooden churches in Romania........
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New Old Book !

I was delighted to fnd a copy of this wonderful book "The Shrines of British Saints" , originally published in 1905, freely available on the web :-)

Many of the Saints are pre-Schism and it is well worth a visit.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weather Woes

We had the dickens of a storm on Monday night, knocking some of my pitifully few remaining apples off the tree.

As for my precious plums, I could weep.
Although this year we had no storms at the time the plum blossom was setting, it was **soooo** cold we had no bees, either ! So no way for the blossom to get pollinated. I was out, shivering, with paintbrushes, manually pollinating the flowers that day in spring !

We have had a lavish crop of plums on the tree, and I was so complacent, thinking of the jam I will make....

But on Tuesday, I went out and at least 30 of my ripening plums had been ripped off the tree, and were split on the ground. I salvaged a few, and carefully picked anything approaching ripeness off the tree, and will do the same today. But my crop has been cut by half, to my sadness.

This is appalling weather for August. it is not a word of a lie to say that the girls have only been able to play in the garden on three days this month, as it has rained so much.

And imagine if I was a farmer, with my crops and vegetable garden/fruit trees decimated by the weather - how would I manage? I would have less food to eat or sell or trade.

Sometimes we forget how dependant we are on the vagaries of the weather.
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Playing Chess

I am teaching DD3 how to play chess.

We played a gentle game yesterday, just to show her how to set up the board and how the pieces move.
We played a lengthy game this morning, with lots of explanation about what I was doing and why I was doing it, along with outlining the consequences of what would happen if she moved her pieces in various positions.

We have just finished a third game, and I was so busy telling her about how I kept putting her in check, that I completely failed to realise that I was in a vulnerable position and she whupped me !! She captured my king in one board-long move that I didn't think she would work out how to do !

I am so proud of her :-)
And laughing at my own pride, which blinded me ........

Moral : never under-estimate a ten year old !
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Experiencing the Feast of the Dormition

Roland over at Two Natures has a wonderful post about the Lamentations of the Virgin !
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Lamentations of the Dormition of the Theotokos

I was delighted to find the text of the Lamentations for the Dormition.
Better late than never :-)

The link is here, but knowing how things can sometimes be removed , I am taking the precaution of putting the entire text here too :-

(FBE 1987)
Arranged to be chanted to the melodies of the Lamentations chanted at the Bier of Christ
published in the Archdiocese’s blue book “Orthodox Hymns in English” (pp. 107, 110 & 114)
and the Archdiocese’s yellow book “Great Friday – Matins of Great Saturday” (pp. 11, 14 & 17).
It is traditional that the Lamentations at the Bier of the Mother of God be chanted at Great Vespers on the eve
of the Feast. Immediately following the Hymn of Righteous Simeon the clergy come to stand before the Bier (in
which is the epitaphion of the Theotokos or the festal icon) that has been decorated with fresh flowers. The
order of the censings, Lamentations and litanies follows the same pattern as on the eve of Great Saturday. At
the conclusion of the Third Stasis we continue Great Vespers as usual with the Trisagion Prayers. If a
procession will be made with the Bier, it occurs during the chanting of the festal Apolytikion which is repeated
as many times as necessary. Then the usual Great Dismissal is made.

First Stasis
Tone 5
1. In a grave they laid Thee / O my Life and my Christ / and now also the Mother of Life / a strange sight
both to angels and men.
2. We magnify thee / O pure Theotokos / and we honor thy holy Dormition / as we bow before thine
hon’rable tomb.
3. How, O Mary, canst thou die / thou who art the life of faithful ones / and how can the tomb contain thy
body / which contained the One Which cannot be contained.
4. Queen who gavest birth to God / the King of the heavens / thou art now royally translated, O pure one / to
the kingdom of the heavens.
5. From the earth thou wast translated / but thou didst not forsake the earth / Now All-holy Theotokos /
liberate the whole world from mighty ones.
6. Gabriel was sent from God / to announce to thee the good news / of thine imminent departure from this
life / O thou pure and spotless heavenly Lady.
7. Receive, O Mother / from thy children our love / and these hymns and odes to bid thee farewell / which we
offer from the depth of our souls.
8. Leave us not orphaned, O Mother / as thou dost go from earth to heav’n / where thou will be reunited /
with thy Son and thy God.
9. Come with me, O Anna / Come and stand with us now / lead us in the festive praises of Mary / thine own
daughter, the Mother of God.
10. The God of glory / thy Son, O pure one / now admits thee as His Mother with glory / and enthrones thee at
His right hand.
11. The holy Apostles / O pure Theotokos / when they saw thine all-holy body / fell before it weeping
12. The gate enters the gate / and heaven enters heaven, / O ineffable and wondrous mystery! / Now the throne
draws near to the throne of God.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Word of God, we hymn Thee / God of all things art Thou / with Thy Father and Thy Spirit Most Holy
praised / and we glorify Thy nature divine.
Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Ev’ry generation / blesses thee, O Theotokos / ever-virgin and sov’reign Lady / and we glorify thy

And again, slowly:
1. In a grave they laid Thee / O my Life and my Christ / and now also the Mother of Life / a strange sight
both to angels and men.

Second Stasis
Tone 5
1. Right it is indeed / Life-bestowing Lord, to magnify Thee / who hast glorified Thy Mother / at the time of
her life-bearing repose.
2. Right it is indeed / to magnify thee, Theotokos / for thy divine and blameless soul / is entrusted to the
hands of God.
3. Shudder, O ye heavens! / and, O earth, give ear unto these words: / God descended once before for our
sake / He descends again today for His Mother.
4. Though heaven receives / thine undefiled body, O Lady / yet grace hath been poured out / covering the
whole face of the earth.
5. Now Joachim rejoiceth / seeing the great glory of his only child / who indeed didst bear a divine Child /
truly inexplicable and inspired!
6. Gethsemane is blessed / for it gained thy virginal and blessed tomb / it hath been greatly honored / as the
royal bridal chamber.
7. Angels rev’rently attend / to thy most pure sepulchre, O pure one / and a light from it doth shine forth / a
place lighted by the light of God.
8. Thou didst leave thy pure belt / and entrusted it to holy Thomas / as a witness of thy translation / from the
earth unto God above.
9. Mighty kings of the earth / and the wealthy among all earth’s peoples / pray to thee, O All-holy Virgin / as
a daughter of the King of heaven.
10. The glor’ious city of the Lord / about which they spoke so gloriously / was translated from earth to
heaven / and was led into the house of God.
11. Mary, thou only high Queen /of heaven above and of earth here below / lead into thy kingdom / those who
glorify thy holy Dormition.
12. Holy and ever-virgin Lady / Mary Theotokos, Queen and Mother / take now thy rest and sleep and rule /
unto ages of ages with God.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
O eternal God / Word co-unoriginate and Spirit / make firm the faith of the Orthodox / against heresy and
error, O good One.
Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Grant true life to the faithful / O all-blameless and pure holy Virgin / thou who gavest birth unto Life Itself
/ and who hast now departed unto Life.

And again, slowly:
1. Right it is indeed / Life-bestowing Lord, to magnify Thee / who hast glorified Thy Mother / at the time of
her life-bearing repose.

Third Stasis
Tone 3
1. Ev’ry generation / to thy grave comes bringing / its dirge of praises, O Virgin.
2. All of creation / to the grave comes bringing / a farewell hymn to our Lady.
3. Christ’s holy Disciples / tend to the body / of Mary, Mother of my God.
4. Orders of Angels / and Archangels / invisibly hymn her presence.
5. Pious Women / with the Apostles / now cry out their lamentations.
6. She who was at Cana / at the marriage / hath been called with the Apostles.
7. The Master descendeth / to Gethsemane / with countless hosts of heaven.
8. The choir of the Disicples / seeing the Lord descend / in glory greatly rejoiceth..
9. Let the earth leap for joy / as it beholdeth / our God from heaven descending.
10. Let us go out quickly / meeting the Lord Jesus / Who cometh once more among us.
12. Let us be attentive / God now speaketh / with His most pure Mother.
13. Most sweet Mother / come and rejoice with / thine own most sweet Child, Jesus.
14. Behold now thy Son / cometh to bring thee / into His home in the heavens.
15. Come, My most lovely one / and enjoy the beauty / of thine own Son thy Maker.
16. Come indeed, My Mother / come into divine joy / and enter into the kingdom.
17. What will I bring Thee / O my Son, the God-Man / the Maiden cried to the Master.
18. What will I bring Thee / O my God in heaven / except my soul and body.
19. The Father I glorify / to the Son I sing a hymn / the Holy Spirit I worship.
20. Adam and Eve came out / to behold the glory / of their own Virgin offspring.
21. Blessed be the parents / Joachim and Anna / who for the world bore a daughter.
22. Grant to thy Church peace/ to thy flock salvation / through thy most holy Dormition.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
O Thou Triune Godhead / Father, Son and Spirit / upon Thy world have mercy.
Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Make thy servants worthy / O most holy Virgin / to see thy Son’s kingdom.

And again, slowly:
1. Ev’ry generation / to thy grave comes bringing / its dirge of praises, O Virgin.
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David and Goliath

I was fascinated to read this today.... a Jewish historical/medical analysis of what was wrong with Goliath and how David could defeat him.

It was by playing to his own strengths and Goliath's weaknesses, as it turned out, though there was no way David could have known that without God's help, IMO ......
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Monday, August 18, 2008


Have you ever had a day where you suddenly realise, in a moment of heart-stopping, blinding clarity, exactly how special and incredible your spouse is ?

It happened to me yesterday :-)

We were chatting about nothing in particular, as you do when you've been married a fair while with kids, LOL, when suddenly the conversation took a much deeper, more serious level, with no conscious intent, no warning, even.

We talked about lots of things, uninterrupted - which is a miracle in its own right!- for about an hour and a half, and it brought home to me just how special, precious, unique and lovable my husband is, and just why I fell in love and continue to love him .

Not to mention how much I take him for granted, sometimes...... which is probably a topic for Confession.

But my heart was filled with joy, and continues to be so, that this man is my husband. "My cup runneth over........"
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Friday, August 15, 2008

More Good News

the joy of the Feast to you all ! May the Theotokos pray for us all.

The good news is that DD2 has this morning been offered a job; only 20 hours a week to start with, but the pay is good and there is the possibility of working up to full-time :-)
She is over the moon and I am so relieved for her.

DD1 had the results of the extra A level in Law that she has been studying at evening class at the local college, and she has got a Grade A. Her job is also going well and she is enjoying it.

Thanks to all of you for your continued prayers, and Glory to God for His goodness.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hospital News

DH had a follow-up appointment with the Consultant this morning, who told him that during the operation they found he has arthritis on the underneath of the kneecap as well as a few other places. Trust him to have something different ! The arthritis has been removed, but may well return in time.

There is still some 5 -10 degrees of fixed flexion in the affected leg, but a vast improvement on the 30 - 40 degrees prior to the operation.

He still has some pain on movement, and some pain when driving, so it is recommended that he goes for physiotherapy. First appt is this afternoon.
Other than that, all is well.
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If You Don't Say Amen, You Don't Get Fed

Can you imgine that ?

A 15 month old toddler whose mother belonged to a sect in the USA was deliberately starved to death on the orders of the cult leader because the child would not say Amen at the blessing after meals.

Lord have mercy on us all.
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Living an Orthodox Life

I have a large number of ecclesiastical interest links in my Favourites in Internet Explorer; so many that in fact, it can be very difficult to find anything amongst the seething mass of information !!

I decided to set up a site with more detail about the links, to make it easier to find exactly what I am looking for.......I don't intend to make it an Orthodox Wiki, as that has already been done, but there is a gap in the market for resource sites, I think.

amble along :-)

If you are interested, if you have links to offer, or if you would like admin privileges to be able to edit/add to the site, let me know.

The more the merrier, so spread the word !
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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Never Too Old To Fence !

You really are never too old to fence :-)

Scroll right down to the bottom of the page for the article and pics of people at an old folks' home who have started to fence - an absolute delight ! I would be happier to see them wearing proper fencing jackets for protection, though .....
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Friday, August 08, 2008

Why People Fence

A rather nice article about fencing albeit with folis (we fence with sabres)from

Quoted here in case the original site gets moved around or lost:-

Foil fencing by Susie Rushton
At the age of 29, I did something I never thought I'd do. I bought a sword – a sliver of flexible steel called a foil, 90cm long with a blob of black rubber on the tip. I'd been attending a fencing class for six months, and this was my financial commitment to a sport I'd begun on a whim.
To test how the foil felt, I dropped into an en guard stance, exactly as I'd been taught, in the middle of the store: right foot pointing forward, left at 90 degrees, knees bent, straight back, head erect, left arm raised as a counterbalance to the sword arm, which, foil in hand, now practised jabbing attacks. It was the most thrilling purchase I've ever made.
Why fencing? It wasn't anything to do with Madonna, Luke Skywalker or Errol Flynn, nor was it out of nostalgia for the age of duelling Рalthough fencing undoubtedly suffers its share of pretentious idiots. And no, we never say "touch̩" when making a hit on target (which, by the way, is the torso area, excluding arms and neck).
There's no denying the loveliness of the outfit – high-waisted breeches, mask, that collarless jacket. But that's not the reason (I swear). I did hope fencing would make me more co-ordinated. Graceful, even. And it did, in small ways. But after the first months of gruelling training, that became irrelevant. The sport obsesses me for that particular feeling a fencer experiences when you're living on your wits and the accuracy of your foil. Combat, I suppose. "To face an adversary in armed combat," wrote the greatest fencer of all, Aldo Nadi, "is one of the most exciting experiences in life."
Foil fencing is one of the original sports of the modern Olympic Games. But it suffers one great disadvantage; it has almost no "watchability". Fencers of Olympic standard, loose-limbed but crouching low like stalking cats, will parry and attack at such speed that even the referee relies on an electronic scoreboard merely to keep track of who's winning.
They won't make the dramatic swashbuckling motions of the Three Musketeers. Such an easy-to-predict style of attack would be pointless. The fencer aims for tiny movements, subtlety and deception. "Feints" are fake attacks meant to provoke foolish counter-attack, and the top-class fencer uses endless tricks. Stratagems are planned four, five or six moves in advance. You could say that the real weapon isn't the foil but the ability to second-guess intentions while masking one's own. (Winston Churchill was the public schools champion fencer.)
So I don't think more people should watch fencing; I think more of us, especially children, should do fencing. Far from encouraging aggression, it teaches self-control. The instant a fencer loses his or her temper, the bout is lost. In this country, unlike Italy or Hungary, whose fencers dominate the Olympics, fencing is considered arcane and posh. Nine thousand adults pursue fencing as a hobby in the UK, but it is taught in only a handful of schools. Which makes me wonder: might not British youth benefit from a sport that channels the adrenalin rush of playing with knives into the most civilised event at the Olympics?
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One Of Those Days......

Yesterday was one of those days when, no matter how hard we all tried, just about everything went wrong.

As DH is going back to work next week, and as it has finally stopped raining, we decided yesterday to take the girls up to town for a treat.DH is not supposed to drive till Monday, so we walked.

Once the rain had stopped, it soon became very hot indeed, and there were frequent complaints from the youngest child on the 45 minute walk to town.
Various boring grown-up errands (such as paying bills) had to be transacted before we could go to the coffee shop, which elicited more low-level grumbling.

We found a nice table at the coffee shop, and refreshments of various kinds were ordered. Part-way through eating, the small fry decided it was cold (the coffee shop has A/C and is one of the few places in Blogsville that does!). That conversation (AKA whining) went on for a short while and severely taxed my patience. Sigh.

Once they had finished, they were offered ice-cream. I took them to the counter to choose and order, then DD4 went back to the table to sit with Dad. I suddenly heard the most almighty crash and knew, with absolute certainty, that it had come from our table. And it had.

DD4 had slipped when getting on her seat, hit the table, sending a cascade of the shop's nice expensive china onto the floor. Including my coffee, of which I had literally taken two sips. You can imagine her distress at causing such mayhem.

The staff were lovely, and cleared it all up in short order, but DD4 was afraid she would be in trouble with them, which of course she wasn't, as it was an honest accident. She had to be coaxed out of her tears to eat her ice-cream, and she steadfastly avowed that it was the worst day of her life and she never ever wanted to go there again.

So the treat we had envisaged turned out to be an expensive fiasco. And we still had to walk the 45 minutes home in the heat.

I was glad to draw a veil over yesterday and see my little ones safely tucked up in their beds, prayers said, all kissed and blessed.

We all woke up bright and cheerful this morning, determined to stay at home :-)
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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How To Make Evil Sound Acceptable.

John Smeaton, the director of the UK Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, has blogged a very thoughtful post about using euphemisms to make evil actions socially acceptable.

This is so much part of our society now that I wonder what it will take to make people realise that killing babies is just that - killing.
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I Have NEWS !

DD1, the beloved DoomHamster, has just had a phone call to say that she was successful at the interview she had a fortnight ago, and has been offered a job as a legal secretary !

She starts on Monday, after seven months of stressful unemployment.

My heart is overflowing with gratitude to those of you who have kept her in your prayers :-)

Glory to God ! Glory to God !
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Happy Transfiguration !

I wish you all the joy of the Feast, if you are celebrating today !
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Must See

This truly is a "must see".

I implore you to go here and read about the Kirov St Nicholas pilgrimage .

Utterly inspiring !
Just think of 20 000 people walking on pilgrimage, 112 miles over five days, with services by the wayside every 2 hours !
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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Man of Courage

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's body is lying in state in Moscow prior to his interrment at the Donskoi Monastery. BBC Coverage is here and video coverage here.

I was so grieved to learn of his passing, but in the ever-interesting manner of synchronicity, a random trip to the local thrift shop yesterday enabled me to buy a copy of his book "August 1914", for the princely sum of 80p. Whilst dealing with the horrors of war, it also has many passages depicting Orthodox faith and practice. It will definitely be a keeper.

My prayers for his wife and family, and all those who knew him, even if only through his books and his courage .

Memory Eternal !
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Monday, August 04, 2008

Fencing Spiritually

Fencing is great.

Scary, but great :-)

I am now communal kit washer for the club - I was concerned with the kit DD3 and I are using from the club stock being very - um- "pungent", not to mention slightly grubby.
Most of the problem is that the kit is worn for two hours of very strenuous exercise, then taken off and put straight in an unventilated, locked metal cabinet at the Leisure Centre until the next week's session. It doesn't get chance to air before it gets put away, so it does get rather bleuch !

I offered to take some of it home to wash and return for the next session, and took mine and DD3's ones last week. They washed really well, and looked brand new. Coach was delighted, and I have been asked by some of the younger kids if the stuff they borrow can be washed next, so I did that yesterday afternoon. I don't mind in the slightest, and it is so much more hygienic for them to washed regularly, particularly as a nasty, sometimes lethal strain of Staph aureus is emerging in gyms across Britain. I prefer to take no chances !

The more experienced kids who fence in competitions have bought their own kit, so that gets washed regularly by their parents, but those of us who are new and/or broke have to borrow the club's, as it is really very expensive.
Yesterday I had £450 worth of kit hanging on my washing line !

It is worth washing regularly for the simple reason that sweat can rot cotton fibres over a length of time, so if the kit is left dirty for a long period, it will end up being ruined eventually, let alone the gross factor of smelly stuff !

It is nice to be able to do something for the Coach and the kids at the club, who have made DD and I so very welcome, and who are so very patient and kind to us both.

Like our fencing kit, Sin, if left unchecked and unconfessed can utterly destroy one's life. It weakens the heart and the soul, and both benefit greatly from a good cleaning every now and then via Confession.

I am way overdue for a good spiritual deep-clean myself, so I can be prepared to fence the snares that contend against me..... :-)
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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Have you ever wondered....

where you would end up if you dug a hole straight down from your hometown ?

I did.

I would emerge off the south-east coast of New Zealand :-)

If you want to play too, this is where you need to be........
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Friday, August 01, 2008

Quite An Amazing Feat

Would you be able to hop off a bus, run into a shop, run straight up the "downwards" moving escalator, and run out fast enough to be able to catch the very same bus as it was leaving the bus stop ?
I certainly couldn't.

One man could and did - and he is **80** years old, an ex Olympic hurdler.
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High-Tech Monks

The RC monks of the ancient pilgrimage island , Caldey island, at Tenby, have gone high tech and got wireless broadband beamed over from the mainland for them to run their internet shop :-)
Full story here.

Their internet shop is here.

I would love to go back there; it has been almost two years since we last visited .
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