Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book Stats 2009

Book Status for 2009:

144 books documented as read and finished.

2 books still in progress

1 book written :-)
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.........of my dear step-father Gordon, who died four years ago this very evening.
Once we have finished the evening meal, I will be lighting the lampada and praying for him and for my brother.

Memory Eternal.
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Books Read 4

These two are currently being read in tandem.

"Justinian's Flea" is very interesting and fairly comprehensive, though  by page 59 my Ortho-hackles were rising at the statement :
" Even by the third century, worship of Mary was a well-established feature of the Christian world....."

Hello, *NO* Orthodox person I know worships Mary.
We venerate and love her dearly, indeed, and ask her loving help and intercession.
Worship her, no.
I only worship God in Trinity.

I will withold furher judgement till I actually finish the book.

"The Boys" is a superb scholarly work of modern history.
Detailed and heart-rending, it describes how of  the 1000 Jewish children Britain agreed to allow into the country at the end of WWII, only 733 children could be found left alive in the concentration camps "allotted" to Britain.
The stories of these youngsters (boys as well as girls) are told right from their pre-war lives, through their times at work and extermination camps, and their final liberation and travel to Britain where they began the harrowing process of rebuilding their lives.
It is a wonderful book, but so moving that I can only read twenty or thirty pages in one sitting.

 Man's inhumanity to man is a fearful and terrifying thing.

May God have mercy on us all.
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Books Read 3

This was a great buy. Full of loads of information about a huge variety of books ideal for reading out loud to children of all ages !

This was a super introduction to Jewish festivals, suitable for children 7- 10, with songs, plays, poems and stories.

I decided to resurrect my slow-cooker and found this nifty book in the library. I have lots of ideas for food to cook now :-)
Currently in the slow-cooker is a rather nice Beef in red wine casserole, much of which I intend to freeze in single portion sizes........
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Books Read 2

This book about some of Wales' most significant places of worship was underwhelming. 
To be told in the Introduction that Wales was a Roman Catholic country for a Millenium I found appalling. Wales was part of the Undivided Church until the Schism. It was not Roman Catholic for the whole period from Christianisation until the Protestant Reformation.
For hundreds of years the Celtic Church held sway and it was not until the Synod of Whitby that Roman Uses predominated throughout Britain.
So on several counts, we have bad scholarship and slipshod editing. Who on earth let such blunders into a published book ?

Some of the Churches selected were indeed interesting, many were pedestrian or of little historical / religious importance, but there were very many, equally deserving of mention, which were overlooked, to my dismay.

Although I am currently doing my job part-time, I may be applying formally for the full -time hours and will therefore be needing both these two books, for CV writing and interview techniques !

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Books Read

Bella Tuscany is a nice travelogue about Tuscany. Easy reading, but pleasant.

Life in a Postcard chronicles the adventures of one family when they buy a deserted and almost derelict    monastery in the French Pyrenees.  A thoroughly enjoyable read.

I saw this in the Library and simply had to borrow it.
I enjoyed the first book, and this was also good.
I wouldn't say it was brilliant, but it was carefully and reverently written. The temptation in the desert was harrowing.
I look forward to the next one, to see how she handles the final period of Christ's life......
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Caveat Emptor !

I was surprised to discover that  some types of e-readers - and using Google book search -  can and do monitor what you are reading and store that information on a remote site.

Further details are available here.

If I had an obsession with reading trashy Barbara Cartland pulp romance  novels, I don't think I would want that shared with the world :-)
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Fuzzy Christmas Lights ?

What do you think of this tree in a town centre ? Has it been decorated with Christmas lights which are fizzling out ?


The whole tree is filled with hundreds of stunningly pretty little pied wagtails !
 I regularly see theses cute little birds in twos or threes, but have never, ever seen them in a flock.
I was so thrilled to see these photos on the Daily Mail website.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

That Time Of Year Again.....

.....when everyone seems stricken by illness.

It started with DD4 having a streaming cold, then giving it to DH.

DD3 developed a fever and complained of feeling "not well". Nothing more specific, but she was definitely not well.

Then I had the "not wellness" too, and last night DD2 emailed to say she has got a vile cold/tonsillitis. And one of her beloved reptile pets has just died, after months of expensive veterinary treatment.

DD1 and Mr DoomHamster both seem fine at the moment, and long may it continue !

We have escaped the projected heavy snowfall completely, with torrential rain instead. If it had been snow, it would have been inches thick............
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Up until 29th December, my recorded book tally for 2009 stands at 135 books.

I have read a few more old faithful favourites, some of them re-read several times this year, which I have endeavoured not to record , so the actual tally is probably nearer 160, I suppose .

I do have several books "on the go" at the moment, some of which may be finished in time to slip into the 2009 category  :-)
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Seven Champions Of Christendom

Did you know about them ? 

I knew about the individual Saints, of course :  St. George, St. Andrew, St. Patrick, St. Denis, St. James Boanerges, St. Anthony the Lesser (the post Schism RC St Antony of Padua), and St. David;  the patron saints of, respectively, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, and Wales - but I never knew they were referred to collectively as the Seven Champions of Christendom :-)
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Straw Nativity

Borrowed, with grateful thanks, from the photo collection recently taken in Prague by Mr & Mrs DoomHamster :-)
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Read St Nicolai Online

St Nicolai Velimirovitch's book "The Religious Spirit of the Slavs" is available to read online or for free download here.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

On The Feast Of Stephen.........

Today is the Feast of St Stephen in the Western-rite,  and a good day to sing the carol "Good King Wenceslas"......

A rather  more traditional version is this one:
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Also Just Finished

This book I picked up from the thrift store. I have had so much fun browsing through it, and there is much common sense about treating minor problems at home.

This was a Christmas present from my precious DD2 and Rob. I have followed Dawn Meehan's blog about her life with six kids for some time, and the book is a great read.
Thanks, both ! I finished it about ten minutes ago :-)

But now I have no new books to read...... must be time to visit :-)
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Just Finished

This book was a strange mix of utterly fascinating insights and complete supposition. The frequent inaccuracies relating to Orthodoxy annoyed me intensely. If you want to write a scholarly work, do so, with adequate research beforehand. Otherwise go write Dan Brown type pseudo-historical fiction.
Sorry. Rant over.

I had heard so much about this book, but had never before got round to reading it. It was an interesting look at life through the eyes of a young woman, mostly by means of her supposed journal. I really did enjoy it immensely, and there were some beautifully drawn characters. The author is rather more famous for her other main novel, 101 Dalmations :-)
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Holy Rus

I happened upon the website of a superb photographer who has taken some wondrously lovely photographs of Russian churches......

Enjoy the three pages from Russia and one from Poland !

I am so in love with this one.......

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Nativity Semon of St Isaac The Syrian

This Christmas night bestowed peace on the whole world;

So let no one threaten;

This is the night of the Most Gentle One -

Let no one be cruel;

This is the night of the Humble One -

Let no one be proud.

Now is the day of joy -

Let us not revenge;

Now is the day of Good Will -

Let us not be mean.

In this Day of Peace -

Let us not be conquered by anger.

Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;

So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.

Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;

So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.

This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;

Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.

Today the Divine Being took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,

In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of Divinity.
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Christus Natus Est.......

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia !
Gloria in excelsis Deo......
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Thursday, December 24, 2009


...on whether I might abandon all attempts at Christmas cheer and just re-run Christmas properly according to the Old Calendar in January.

Suffice it to say that I am majorly tired, fed up and grumpy.

I have no desire even to open my mouth to pray this evening. I will pray my psalter kathisma as promised, however, remembering those who have asked me for prayers, and trust to God to have mercy upon my hard and rebellious heart.

I am ticked off that we will not be able to make it to Liturgy and meet up with my Church family.

I am missing my brother so much.

I am fed up with the nonsense from his estranged widow which is causing grief to my mother, myself , our  whole family and to all my brother's friends and colleagues as well. I cannot say more than that publically, but it has taken on nightmare proprtions and all I want to do is carry out my brother's last wishes.


Not one of my better days.  God grant that tomorrow will bring me peace, and grace to make the very best of the Day.
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Happy Birthday.... dear Mrs Mutton !

Many Years, Meg !
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My blog address has been hijacked !
I do not know whether to feel flattered that I pose such a threat as to require an allegedly "Bible believing organisation" to compete with me, or insulted.

To find out more about the site, which offers delights such as "infant baptism is specifically forbidden in the Bible, A Doom's Day Clock (sic) and Armageddon", type in my blog address but remove the "b" from "blogspot"

Interestingly, though the site insults Roman Catholicism as the


- it says nothing about us Orthodox at all, that I could find on a cursory glance at least. Perhaps that is a work in progress.....

The mind boggles.
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No Room At The Inn ?

Not the case at this pub..........

Story and photo from the Daily Mail   :-)

Thick stone pillars form a solid archway and the rough-hewn oak door opens to the sort of Nativity scene that has mesmerised people for more than 2,000 years.

There is Mary, cradling the baby Jesus in her arms, while Joseph, three wise men and a shepherd pay dutiful homage.

The scene is so realistic that one regular at the Bodmin Moor pub in Cornwall remarked, before taking a drink, this week: ‘I have been coming here for 40 years and I never realized that door was there before.’

Which it hasn’t been. For while some rely on humdrum tableaux of the Nativity this Christmas, the Blisland Inn is basking in the glory of a trompe d’oeil – a 3-D mural which makes it seem the pub has really grown an extra room – the stable where Jesus was born.

The extraordinary painting is the work of 56-year-old local artist Janet Shearer, whose previous commissions include a backcloth for the rock band Pink Floyd’s The Wall album and murals for Heathrow Airport and the film Aliens.

‘It’s the art of illusion,’ she said.

‘In reality it is just a blank wall full of barometers and pub memorabilia.

'My job was to make the painting appear to be part of the fabric of the building.’

Janet took three weeks to complete the canvas which is now stretched across the wall of the pub ready for its Christmas Eve unveiling.

For some locals, the picture is made all the more realistic by the fact that their faces have been used for the figures in the tableaux.

Landlord Gary Marshall, for instance, is Joseph while his barmaid Becky Van der Plank is Mary.

The Three Wise Men and a shepherd are played by customers Roger Winn, Ian Haggart, Steve Whiter and Janet’s partner Steve Jackson.

Janet has also included her five-year-old Jack Russell Ruby and painted some jokes on the door which say ‘Maximum Height – 5 Cubits’ and ‘No Camels’.

Gary Marshall said: ‘I was delighted to let Janet turn this blank wall into such an incredible scene. It was something different and has turned out to be absolutely brilliant.

'My customers absolutely love it. It has made our Christmas.’
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Steaming Away......

This really made me smile today - modern trains leaving commuters stranded, yet a replica of a 1940s steam train comes to the rescue !!!

Story and photo  taken from the Daily Mail

Passengers stranded when modern-day trains fell victim to the freezing weather have been rescued by the crew of a steam engine.

About 100 passengers climbed aboard the first mainline steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost half a century at London Victoria when electric trains were delayed.

The 1940s technology used to power Tornado, a £3million Peppercorn class A1 Pacific, was able to withstand the snow and ice that brought much of the South East to a standstill on Monday night.

Historic solution: The Tornado A1 locomotive came to the aid of stranded passengers let down by modern trains in freezing conditions

The locomotive's 'Cathedrals Express' service was offering festive trips in the region when staff on board heard about the stranded passengers.

The travellers were offered free seats and were dropped off at stations as it chuffed through Kent, said Mark Allatt, chairman of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, the charity which built Tornado.

Mr Allatt said they were pleased to be able to help some of London's stranded commuters 'get home in style' and joked that rail operators could learn lessons from them.

'It's amusing because this engine is predominantly made up of 1940s' technology and we were able to keep running despite modern trains not being able to,' he said.

'If any of the rail operators would like to use this technology for themselves, we would be more than happy to build them an engine.'

Built partly by volunteers with donations collected over 19 years, the apple-green locomotive can reach a top speed of 100mph and is designed for long-distance express journeys.

In 1990, a band of enthusiasts came together to work on their ambition to construct a brand new Peppercorn A1 Pacific, and achieved their aim when that locomotive, No 60163 Tornado, moved under its own steam last year.

The A1 60163 Tornado is the 50th Peppercorn class A1 locomotive, all of which were designed to cope with the heaviest passenger trains on the East Coast Main Line.

The A1s were among the last steam engines to be withdrawn from service from British Rail in the late 1960s in favour of the more reliable diesel.

The locomotive was officially named Tornado by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall earlier this year and has since entered regular service on excursion trains on the Network Rail main line.
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More Icy Photos

Looking through the trees at the icy lake......

                 Sunrise at the lake. The photos do not do justice to how pretty it really looked......
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Cold And Not Quite Sunny......

I snapped these horses grazing in their field at 08.25 am yesterday, on my way to work on a bitterly cold and icy morning.

This eight month old cygnet is still in adolescent plumage, and makes the most adorable high-pitched squeaky noises ! He was splashing in the water of the lake, right next to where ice had formed. About two-thirds of the lake was frozen over yesterday morning...... and yes, it was pretty dark still !
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Even More Recently Read

As the weather becomes ever more dark and gloomy, I seem to gravitate towards reading bright and cheerful tomes about living in faraway sunny climes..... I wonder why ? LOL.
Annie Hawes's series about life in rural Italy always manage to make me smile. Italy is high on my list of places I want to go to visit.......

This book. What can I say about it ?  It has taken me months to complete it, not because it is a huge tome (only 422 pages in total,  with 322 pages of text, the rest being scholarly footnotes and annotations) but because the the most significant event was, for some bizarre reason, dealt with extensively by the author within the introduction ! Having read this, it was very difficult to plough on with the book with any degree of enthusiasm, which is a shame, as it was dealing with one of the most exciting periods of scientific discovery in human history......
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More Recently Read

"1989"  I found to be an utterly fascinating look at the author's career in journalism and his life based behind the Iron Curtain, and its eventual downfall. Well worth a read.

I loved "A Ram In The Well" , about a couple's return to the depths of darkest North Wales and their purchase of a fairly ramshackle old farmhouse.......adventures ensue by the score. A delightful read, and not too highbrow :-)
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Recently Read

I have been reading during this last four weeks or so, honestly !
  Jasper Fforde's "Thursday Next" series are comfort reading for me :-)
Out of sheer desperation I also resorted to re-reading Harry Potter, though I much prefer Fanfic to J K Rowling's original works.......

Elsie Oxenham's "Abbey girls" series are also very comforting when under stress.
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Sunrise 13th December 2009

Sunrise, whilst out walking the dog :-)
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This was sunrise looking out over our front garden on 1st December 2009
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Counting Down.....

.........the hours till I finish work for Christmas break.
DH always saves a chunk of his holidays for this time of year, so he actually finished work lunchtime last Wednesday :-)
I, however , am still working away till about 3.30 pm Tuesday. Barring disasters and if all goes well, that is....

Yesterday, we finally hauled the Christmas decorations from the attic and put up the tree. Said tree is only decorated on the top third, with a large chair pushed in front of it in an attempt to save it from the depredations of the Dog of Doom. None of my most treasured decorations can go on the tree in case DoD destroys them........ ho hum.

The rest of our winter wood supply came teatime yesterday, so DH and I spent a fun hour or so hauling all that into the safety of the garage and stacking it neatly. We should be warm in one room, at least, this winter !

We also visited Mum yesterday, doing some errands for her. I was also tasked with washing her hair, as she is afraid to go in the shower any more after her recent accident there. It was good to see her looking  so much brighter. The nasty infected wound on her leg has almost completely healed, thanks to the marvellous honey dressings the Specialist Nurse has been applying. Her arm is healing, but verrrryyyy slowly. It will be a long job, I fear.

When I took the dog out this morning, it was obvious even to me without my glasses on, that we have had some snow overnight which has partly frozen and partly thawed to make ice-cold slush. It was even more obvious to my feet, clad only in thin slippers......    !!!
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Friday, December 18, 2009


It is forecast to go to -5 degrees C here tonight ...........(23 degrees F).
Even with the wood-burning stove on full blast, this end of the room is very cold.

And now the dog needs to go to the garden.
 I am wrapping up warm, complete with woolly hat, before I venture out there :-)
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Apologies those kind souls who send me physical greetings cards.

I have been so disorganised this year that  I am not likely to be able to get cards posted. Be assured, though, that every single one of you is in my prayers.

I don't finish work till 4pm on Tuesday and have a myriad of other committments as well this weekend. Not to mention the ironing..................................... Gulp.

 I still have most of my Christmas gifts yet to purchase........DH has done sterling work, but there are things that only I can do :-)
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Laughing Out Loud

 Last night was particularly busy.

DD4 was reciting a poem in her school's Christmas Concert, and did it beautifully and clearly. When we came out of that concert, it was snowing, which had not been forecast for anywhere near our area. it was an utter delight !
I then had to rush to another venue, as it was DD3's first Christmas Concert in her comprehensive school. She is in the Junior Choir, and they performed two songs.

The snow had stopped when we came out of that second concert, but it had transformed our town into a magical wonderland.
It was only just getting light when I had to leave for work this morning, so I couldn't take photos, and bright sunshine but bitter cold today meant that the snow quickly froze into rather less photogenic ice.
And of course, it was nearly dark when I got home from work, so the snow was unrecorded in picture, but I assure you that it was lovely :-)
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Keeping Busy

My very part time job has, like Topsy, "just growed" to become an almost full -time job.

Blog posting has been sporadic, for which I apologise.

Complications have arisen with regard to settling my brother's affairs, which I now have to undertake, which is likely to take some considerable time and effort on my part.

We have all the pre-Christmas mayhem of the young ones' school concerts to try to fit in  next week.  It will be fun trying to be in two places at once.......

I have only bought a handful of presents so far. I have never ever been this disorganised for Christmas :-(

 I am still waiting to be paid, which does rather impede my ability to spend money as I refuse to get things on credit card ...........

I haven't even begun to edit my NaNo novel  yet, which I was hoping to have finalised by now.

And I had to give a formal witness statement regarding an accident which I witnessed a few weeks ago.

I fervently hope life becomes a little calmer fairly soon. 

I am really tired and wish I could hibernate for a few weeks, LOL.
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Hymns From Mt Athos

You can listen to clips, buy the album or download from

Hymns from Mt Athos
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

For Goodness' Sake !

Some academics need to get a life. Seriously.

The latest academic study is about poor old Thomas the Tank Engine.

I will admit my bias right now; I love Thomas the TE. Read the books myself, read them to my children, and bought the videos.

Some people view it very differently !

Article from the Daily Telegraph

Children's favourite Thomas the Tank Engine has been attacked by a Canadian academic for its "conservative political ideology" and failure to adequately represent women.
The show's right-wing politics shows the colourful steam engines punished if they show initiative or oppose change, the researcher found.

She also highlighted the class divide which sees the downtrodden workers in the form of Thomas and his friends at the bottom of the social ladder and the wealthy Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt, at the top.

The criticism, by Shauna Wilton, a professor of political sciences at the University of Alberta, is likely to anger fans of the original books by Rev W. V. Awdry first published in the 1940s which were turned into an animated TV series now shown in 130 countries.
She launched her study after watching the programme with her three-year-old daughter.

She then analysed the plots, characters and other aspects of 23 different episodes to draw her conclusions, which she then presented at a conference of political science in Canada.
She was critical of the fact the show only has eight female characters out of the 49 who feature.
"The female characters weren't necessarily portrayed any more negatively than the male characters or the male trains, but they did tend to play more secondary roles and they're often portrayed as being bossy or know-it-alls," she said.

She also objected to the way the show portrays Thomas, Percy and James slaving away for wealthy bosses like the Fat Controller.
Any attempt to break out of this controlled hierarchy to gain individual power, show initiative or dissent is met with punishment, usually because it goes wrong, she said.
In one episode, Thomas whistles impatiently at a police officer and is replaced with a different engine as a punishment for showing dissent.

"It also represents a conservative political ideology that punishes individual initiative, opposes critique and change, and relegates females to supportive roles," she said. "Any change is seen as disrupting the natural order of things."

But Prof Wilton insisted she show was not all bad, and featured some positive political values like contributing to the community, tolerance of others and good communication.
And she admitted that her three-year-old daughter loves the show and the trains.
Her study shows programmes for children are not as harmless as many parents think if they look more closely, she concluded, and she called for tighter controls of what is broadcast to them.

"We tend to think of children's TV shows as neutral and safe, but they still carry messages," she said.
"Eventually these children will attain full political citizenship, and the opinions and world outlook they develop now, partially influenced by shows like Thomas, are part of that process."
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Monday, December 07, 2009


I spoke to DoomHmaster last night, and she was utterly enthused about Prague. They both can't wait to go back there !
She was able to see St Wenceslas' tomb but not venerate it, as you can only peep into the Chapel and not walk in. Sadly, there were no icons of him :-(

The latter half of the week was bitterly cold, but they were both well wrapped up, and seem to have done an immense amount of exploring the city.

I'm so glad they had a brilliant time :-)
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Yon is a word still used, though not terribly frequently, I admit, here in Wales.
 I had no idea it was so unfamiliar to others !

The Free Dictionary  gives some useful examples:

Adj. 1. yon - distant but within sight (`yon' is dialectal); "yonder valley"; "the hills yonder"; "what is yon place?"


Adv. 1. yon - at or in an indicated (usually distant) place (`yon' is archaic and dialectal); "the house yonder"; "scattered here and yon"- Calder Willingham


hence, "round yon virgin" would mean "around the Virgin , some distance away".
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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Dumbing Down

This weekend saw  DD3 participating in a regional  Christmas carol service.

It was very interesting to see that the normally very stark and bare non-conformist chapel in which it was held is now decorated with some very lovely wall-hangings in what can best be described as an iconographical style, but heavily watered -down.

The ubiquitous overhead projector was much in use to display the words of the Carols.
The carols, however, had been heavily - and I apologise for the strong word but I cannot think of another-  bastardised. The words that the overwhelming majority of the adults and a significant proprtion of the youngsters were singing by memory were not the words on the OHP display, which contained many grammatical errors as well as attempts to be politically correct.

One notable horror had two verbs in one short sentence, both relating to the same subject, yet one was in the past tense and one in the present, and it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Why don't they just leave the Carols alone, and sing them in their beautiful original versions? By all means teach the children exactly what they mean in words they can understand during the rehearsals, but I see no need to dumb them down for singing them too. Many of the children looked baffled, and no wonder; I wouldn't want to sing things which made no sense, either !
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

The View From My Window rather blurry this morning, as we had high winds and torrential rain again last night. The wondows really do need cleaning, but the weather forecast is so dreadful for the next few days that there doesn't seem to be much  point in doing it just yet.
Anyway, I digress.

It is now fully daylight outside,  and I happened to  look up at the sky to see at least ten large seagulls just drifting aimlessly in the thermal currents, zigzagging across the sky, serenely going wherever the wind took them.

My camera was in another room, and I had no time to get a picture before the moved out of sight, but it was lovely to see them !

I heard from DoomHamster last night; she and Mr DH are having a truly magnificent time in Prague, and she has been to venerate St Wenceslas' tomb :-)  I am officially envious !
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Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas Crib With Attitude !

I thought this Christmas Crib was rather special.

It contains 32 scenes from Biblical and Franciscan historical events, utilising over 200 figures, and created by the nuns of Ty Mam Duw Colettine Community in Wales. St Francis is credited with creating the very first Christmas Crib.......

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Turning A Phone Box Into a Library

I thought this was a great idea :-)

Article and photos originally from Daily Mail website.

Cunning villagers have found a novel way to cope with the shortage of libraries in their area by turning an old red phone box into a book exchange.

The former BT phone kiosk has been transformed from a telephone exchange to Britain's smallest library by cunning residents and now stocks around 100 titles.

Villagers rallied together to set up the book box after their mobile library service was cancelled.

Book box: Villagers in the Somerset village of Westbury-sub-Mendip wait in line to use the country's smallest library which was converted from an old red phone box

Happy reading: The phone box now houses titles from cooking books to the classics and blockbusters to children's books

The parish council purchased the box, a Giles Gilbert Scott K6 design, for £1, and residents in the Somerset village of Westbury-sub-Mendip put up wooden shelves inside and donated their own books.

The phone box now houses titles from cooking books to the classics and blockbusters to children's books.

‘It has really taken off,’ Parish councillor Bob Dolby told The Guardian.

‘Turnover is rapid and there's a good range of books, everything from reference books to biographies and blockbusters.’

Reinvented: The box was bought for £1 and residents put up wooden shelves inside and donated their own books while a located business supplied the signs

Meanwhile resident Angela Buchanan was also full of praise for the book box.

'It's such a brilliant idea,' she said. 'Our nearest library is Wells, four miles away, so if you don't want to go into the town but have run out of something to read, it's great you can use this.

'All sorts of interesting books turn up – manuals, picture books, good literary novels.’

The phone box library is open every day for 24 hours and is lit at night. There is a regular check on it to see if some titles are not moving. These are then shipped on to a charity shop to keep the phone box collection fresh.

BT has received 770 applications for communities to 'adopt a kiosk' and so far 350 old boxes have been handed to parish councils.
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Make Your Own Snowflake

Seriously :-)

Snowflake site

or even do a random jigsaw..... (there are lots of categories to choose from, BTW.)

And I really need to leave for work !
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Mum has had quite a nasty accident  when washing her hair today.

She now has a gash on her forehead, but more worrying, she has completely stripped off a large part of the tissue-paper thin skin on her arm . She refused to go to hospital, despite my pleading, so I phoned our wonderful doctor who visited her at home.

He isn't too worried about Mum's head, as the cut will heal on its own, but he is very concerned about her arm. The visiting nurse has been called out and has dressed her arm with specialist materials, which need to be redone several times a week, so she will visit Mum at home to do this.

The really nasty news is that it is likely to take months for this injury to heal and new skin to grow back, so Mum will be in additional pain for quite a long time............
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The Most Baffling Quote Ever

....has to be:-

"Steep is the descent into orthographic antinomianism."

I just love it :-)


The article is reproduced below, original source was here.

Against Camel Case


Published: November 23, 2009

As you probably know, the California-based company Apple makes a portable communication device — a device that an acquaintance of mine whose first language is not English distinguishes as a “self” phone. Though proper nouns conventionally begin with a capital letter, Apple spells the device’s trademark with an initial lowercase i, followed by an uppercase P. Thus styled, the word has a hump in the middle. I could print it here to show you, but I refuse to allow my prose to be so disfigured.

On account of the hump, midword capitals are sometimes called “camel case.” Other terms include “intercaps” and “incapping.” There is some precedent for the unsightliness. Dictionaries list a variety of apple known as a McIntosh, for example, and the language has long tolerated such identities as Ian McEwan, Louis MacNeice and even Myles na gCopaleen. In my considered opinion, the juxtaposition of majuscule and minuscule in a personal name may be safely indulged as a prerogative of the human being, with all his individual strangeness, but to extend the same license to the fruits, literal and figurative, of human labor is another matter. Steep is the descent into orthographic antinomianism.

It’s hard to say when the humps began to multiply, but in the 1950s, Bank of America dropped its “of” and crushed the remaining two words of its name together, as William Safire recollected in this column some decades later. (The bank has since thought better of the experiment.) In 1979 the credit card formerly known as Master Charge changed its last name and relinquished its interstice. In the 1980s and ’90s, word spacing became seriously endangered, probably because, as the magazine New Scientist has noted, the most charismatic capitalists of those decades came from Silicon Valley, where software languages often required them to omit word spaces. To save their eyesight, programmers injected capitals into their compounds, and as they ascended to cultural hegemony, “Word” was sealed to “Perfect,” “Quick” soldered to “Time” and “Power” married to “Point.”

Camel case even infiltrated literature. “Deviance or innovation?” Ron Silliman asked in his 1996 poem “Under,” before imagining himself living the erotic life of the insertive capital: “How sweetly, smoothly I slip inside of you where I belong.” Copy editors, meanwhile, were overwhelmed. At first, sentries at The New York Times allowed interior capitals only when the second element of a compound was a proper noun — when the word crammed next to “Bank” was “America,” for example. But in November 1999, the newspaper capitulated (as it were). Thereafter every brand name was permitted up to three idiosyncratic majuscules. Three! And why not let the dog sleep on the sofa? “Traditionalists,” admitted the magazine Copyediting in January 2008, “have lost the battle.” Most authorities now instruct writers to capitalize whatever the corporations tell them to. Writers of the world, fight back!

Word spaces should not be taken for granted. Ancient Greek, the first alphabet to feature vowels, could be deciphered without word spaces if you sounded it out, and did without them. Spaces or centered points divide words on early Roman monuments, but Latin, too, ceased to separate words by the second century. The loss is puzzling, because the eye has to work much harder to read unseparated text. But as the paleographer Paul Saenger has explained, the ancient world did not desire “to make reading easier and swifter.” There were then few books, and they were read by few people, who expected to read aloud and aspired to commit the words to memory. Reading was a public act, and the lack of word spacing forced it to stay that way for centuries. Medieval monks had to be put in stone-walled carrels so they could read aloud the books that they were copying without disturbing one another.

Word spacing returned, Saenger theorizes, more or less by accident. In Ireland and England during the seventh and eighth centuries, local priests had so much trouble with Latin that spaces were added to their liturgical texts as a crutch. Clerics discovered that reading became more fluent for everyone, because the eye can recognize separated words as distinctive shapes. Monks were able to copy manuscripts in silence, in accordance with many of their vows, and privacy intensified the experience of devotional reading. The innovation flourished and by the 13th century was standard in Latin everywhere. Angels in manuscript illustrations used to speak into the ears of scribes; now they presented them with books to read for themselves. Clerics tackled more complex texts, in greater numbers, and Saenger argues that silent reading seeded the flowering of medieval theology known as scholasticism.

It had side effects. “Psychologically, silent reading emboldened the reader,” Saenger explains, “because it placed the source of his curiosity completely under his personal control.” Heresy became easier to communicate, and Saenger postulates that word spacing eventually made possible phenomena like irony, pornography and freedom of conscience.

In other words, though camel case may have been spurred by recent technology, its effect is regressive — in fact, medieval. It harks back to an era when reading was effortful, public and loud — like a visit to a contemporary shopping mall. Perhaps camel case, like intrusive music, baffling floor plans and aggressive fragrances, is deployed to weary and bewilder us, to render us so addled that we have to say corporations’ trademarks aloud to be sure of what we’re looking at. It doesn’t have to be this way. Put some distance between you and your Master Card; don’t let your Iphone make the rules. You don’t have to buy their language. It already belongs to you.

Caleb Crain is the author of “American Sympathy: Men, Friendship and Literature in the New Nation.”
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

It Must Be Nearly December

- because the usual tirade decrying  Christmas tradition  is being uttered.

Sadly, the current round is from an Anglican Bishop........ Once all the things he opposes are removed from the C of E, it might as well be a pagan religion......


Traditional carols are 'nonsense', says bishop

Some traditional carols are “nonsense” and have turned Jesus into a Father Christmas figure, according to a leading bishop.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent

Published: 8:30AM GMT 29 Nov 2009  Daily Telegraph website

Away in a Manger cannot be sung “without embarrassment”, Once in Roy al David’s City is “Victorian behaviour control”; and O Come, All Ye Faithful is misleading, said the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nick Baines.

He blamed the much-loved carols for adding to confusion over the season’s real meaning and turning Jesus into a figure as fictitious as Father Christmas.

While others defended the traditional songs as “joyful” and “triumphant”, the bishop complained that the carols have contributed to the story of Christ’s birth being seen “as just one more story alongside the panto and fairy stories”.

In a new book published by the Church of England, Why Wish You a Merry Christmas, the bishop argues that carols encourage images of Christmas that have more to do with Victorian sentiment than the Biblical account of Christ’s birth.

“I always find it a slightly bizarre sight when I see parents and grandparents at a nativity play singing Away in a Manger as if it actually related to reality,” he said.

“I can understand the little children being quite taken with the sort of baby of whom it can be said 'no crying he makes’, but how can any adult sing this without embarrassment?”

He said that Jesus would be abnormal if he had not cried as a baby. “If we sing nonsense, is it any surprise that children grow into adults and throw out the tearless baby Jesus with Father Christmas and other fantasy figures?” He continued: “Once in Royal David’s City has Jesus as 'our childhood’s pattern’ — even though we know almost nothing of his childhood apart from one incident when he was 12 years old and being disobedient to his parents — and invites children to be 'mild, obedient, good as he’, which means what, exactly? This sounds suspiciously like Victorian behaviour control to me.”

While the bishop praises the ability of some carols to excite and capture the Christmas message, he cites O Come, All Ye Faithful as a prime example of inaccuracy.

The bishop said it was not the “faithful” who went to see the baby Jesus and his parents but shepherds, who are the “great unwashed” and the wise men, who were “not good Jews, but were pagans, men who were outside the covenant people of God”.

“Some of the traditional carols perpetuate images of Christmas that have more to do with Victorian sentiment than the story we actually read in the Gospels,” the bishop said in the book.

Ralph Allwood, director of music at Eton College, said some carols may be nonsense, but they are also joyful and triumphant. “They bring a smile to people’s faces. There’s nothing wrong with feeling like children at Christmas,” he said.

O Come, All Ye Faithful became popular in the 18th century, but may have been written earlier, while Once in Royal David’s City and Away in a Manger were published in 1848 and 1885 respectively.

The bishop also blamed Nativity plays that introduce snakes and grizzly bears, as having responsibility for “relegating the story to fictional fantasy”.

By “romanticising the festival and commercialising our culture” Christmas has become “tame, fantastic and anaemic,” he said. “Bring back the reality. Perhaps we need to recover the nativity play as something to be done by adults for children and not the other way round.”

Christmas can still offer deep meaning and joy if people learn the real story, the bishop argued.

About 40 per cent of adults are expected to attend church over Christmas, based on figures for previous years.

The Church of England has seen a rise in worshippers at Christmas over the past decade. In 2007, three million attended an Anglican service over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
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Did I Mention....

The chocolate dipped strawberries that came with the cheese board ?
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A Challenge !

Now this is a serious challenge to all you poets.......

This article, which I am reproducing in full in case it "moves", was originally published in The Guardian newspaper site

Enjoy !!  I hasten to add that I would struggle to do this in English, let alone in Welsh, at which I am but a woefully inadequate dysgwyr (beginner)  ........


Poster poems: Englynion
Britain's equivalent of the haiku is your challenge this time, with a number of fiendish variations available

It's short, based on strict rules of syllable count, and British; in fact the englyn (plural form englynion) is among the oldest indigenous verse forms in the Welsh tongue, dating back at least as far as the 9th century Juvencus Englynion, a verse paraphrase of the Gospels.

So, why aren't englynion as popular with contemporary poets as the haiku? Well, the first problem that faces the would-be englynist is that it isn't a single fixed form. The earliest englynion, for instance, are written in three-line stanzas, each line of seven syllables, with a single end rhyme, thus:

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

This is the form known as the englyn milwr.

Straightforward enough, you might think. There is, however, another three-line version, the englyn penfyr, with a more elaborate rhyme scheme. In this form, the first line is 10 syllables long, and the second and third are seven syllables each. The final word of the first line must be polysyllabic and must rhyme with the first word of the second line. The second and third lines have end rhyme:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ a

a _ _ _ _ _ b

_ _ _ _ _ _ b

The rhymes can be full or you can use assonance or alliteration. Easy, isn't it?

The three-line englyn soon evolved into a four-line stanza, an evolution that can be seen in the well-known Englyn on Padarn's Staff. Of course, these quatrains wouldn't be englynion if they didn't come in all kinds of shapes and forms. Perhaps the most common is the englyn cyrch, four seven-syllable lines of which lines one, two and four rhyme and the end of line three has an internal rhyme in line four:

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

_ _ _ _ _ _ b

_ _ _ b _ _ a

The englyn lleddfbroest also has four seven-syllable lines, rhyming a-a-a-a. Naturally, this is far too easy, so the rhymes have to be on dipthongs (in Welsh, ae, oe, wy, ei). The englyn proest dalgron follows an almost identical pattern, except that the syllables with the dipthongs are consonant rather than rhyming. The englyn proest gadwynog seeks to combine these two forms, dropping the dipthong requirement and having lines one and three rhyming and lines two and four consonant. There are two further four-line englynion, the englyn unodle crwca and the englyn unodle union, but please don't ask me to explain them!

If the englyn is the British equivalent of the haiku, then the great Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym is its Basho. However, it would be a mistake to imagine that the form is dead, a relic of some distant medieval past. It is very much alive and current in Welsh poetry and a number of English-language poets have tried their hands at it. For example, Richard Caddel's Nine Englynion is clearly based on the Juvencus form, with the syllable count retained but the rhyme pattern dropped.

And so this month's challenge is to add to the body of English englynion. You may want to stick rigidly to one or more of the traditional variants, or you may, like many western haiku writers, take a more flexible approach. The choice is yours, but one way or another let the englynion roll
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Say Cheese !

The beautifully presented cheese and fruit platter for our table.....

Not so tastefully transformed by DD4 into a cheese mountain........   :-)
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Some Funnies From The Wedding

Unfortunately, it was only after DoomHamster finished her dessert that I noticed the lovely swirled chocolate tracery on her plate......

The 15th century medieval Hall where the Reception was held.......


And becasue it was a major International Rugby match - Wales Versus Australia - once the speeches etc were safely over, by popular request, the live TV coverage of the match was screened in the hall for our enjoyment...... but Wales lost, 33-12. It didn't dampen our spirits, though.......
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If you would like to see wedding photos,  email me and I will either send you some privately or give you the link to the private Photobucket album where they are on display.

I do not have consent of family members and guests to put their photos on a public forum, and I would prefer to preserve privacy and some degree of anonymity.

 I hope you will understand........
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wrapped Up

63,038 words is the offical count for my first NaNoWriMo novel, "The Ballerina and the Bambino", which has been wrapped up today.

I will leave it for a few weeks before I start editing it and making sure it all makes sense :-)

What a crazy, crazy, utterly brilliant month !
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Scream 3

Edited to actually make some sense, LOL

I went shopping yesterday morning in an attempt to find suitable nice new dresses for DD 3&4. The problem is that nearly all the shops now are only stocking their " make children look like drunken hookers  clothes" , um ....   tacky Christmas outfits, the euphemistically  named   "partywear".

I managed to get two pretty dresses, one for DD4 which I knew would fit her well, and one for DD3 about which I was doubtful but it only cost £2.75 (seriously reduced on the sale rail!) and DD4 can always grow into it :-)
I then went to another shop and saw two  more dresses in the sale. These were slightly tackier, but man, I was desperate and running out of options, after all ........ and I can always take them back and get refunds as they haven't been worn..

When DD3 came home from school, neither of the dresses I bought for her would fit. Oh dear.
So we went to Plan B, involving a frantic trip to The Big City where Thursday is late night shopping.

So far so good.

We went to no fewer than 10 clothes shops and found nothing suitable. Absolutely nothing at all. Mercifully, at Shop 11, visited in desperation in the last ten minutes before we had to leave the shopping centres to head back to the bus station, we hit jackpot ! My new favourite shop is H&M :-)

I must single out Sales Assistants from Next and H&M who were incredibly helpful on the quest for DD3's new frock.

DD3 and I were delighted with her new frock and little shrug to match, so all we have to do today is find a pair of shoes to match. We got home at 9.45pm, utterly exhausted and bitterly cold, but we had the dress !

DH is at the dry-cleaner's right now to pick up my outfit, and I need to go to the florist to pick up our flower buttonholes at 5pm.

As far as we can be ready, we are ready.

The urge to scream is receding slightly......
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving !

Wishing you all a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving !!
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Bohemian Rhapsody By The Muppets

What more need I say ?

Sheer genius :-)

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big Grin

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NaNoWriMo Snippets

I am currently on 59,624 words!
My hero is out of hospital and things are going far too well for my liking.....

Meg, if you want NaNo web badges, have a look here

Word count widgets are here.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ahem Part 2


The Ahem post about Nano

has been updated to clarify the information.
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Praying For Wisdom

Dear peeps,

A possible job opportunity just may be rearing its head at the early part of next year. I cannot say more than that, but prayers for wisdom and discernment as to what would be best for us as a family would be much appreciated...............
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Scream 2

DD4 is a fraction better, but now DD3 has gone down with high fever, headaches, shivering etc.

Ho hum.

One of the bridesmaids has been involved in a car accident, through no fault of her own. Mercifully she is uninjured.

I did ask DoomHamster tonight if it might not have been easier and less stressful if she and MrDH had just run away together to get married and have a party when they come back .......she's beginning to wish she had, now !
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Saturday, November 21, 2009


DD4 is poorly. She has a raging temperature, sore throat, sniffles, tummy ache. There have been several cases of Swine Flu in her school recently.
Does she have it? I don't think so, but cannot be certain.

One of DoomHamster's bridesmaids definitely does have it.

Oh joy.

Hopefully they will both be fully recovered and non-infectious by the end of the week, as the wedding is on Saturday 28th ....... and the bride and groom are off to Prague on honeymoon on 30th.

I shall go and scream quietly in the corner now.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Priest Martyred

I was distressed to read this article at Interfax:

Memory Eternal to Fr Daniil

20 November 2009, 13:57

Moscow priest could have been killed by extremists, pagans – sources

Moscow, November 20, Interfax - Moscow priest Daniil Sysoyev most likely has been killed for his missionary activity among the non-Orthodox Russian population, a source at law enforcement agencies told Interfax.

"He had recently received constant death threats from some extremist organizations. Daniil Sysoyev complained about it several times to the Federal Security Service," the source said.

Fr. Daniil said he received anonymous phone calls and e-mails promising to "have his guts for garters," he said.

"Sysoyev received the last threat in early October. Someone called him and said he had been sentenced to a death penalty," the source said.

Rev. Daniil is known as an experienced theologian who had been in constant dispute with the extremist branches of Islam. He began receiving threats four years ago after holding a public debate with Vyacheslav Polosin, the former Orthodox priest who converted to Islam.

Fr. Daniil might also have been killed by members from the so-called sect of Rodnovers (Slavic Neo-pagans), the source told Interfax.

Investigators are following all lines of inquiry but this theory remains the main one, he said.

This is evidenced by the fact that the perpetrator did not leave the weapon at the crime scene, he said. "Rodnovers are not professional killers, which is why they count every barrel," he said.
The Rodnovers organization mainly consists of young pagans.

Earlier Rodnovers staged an explosion at one of Moscow's churches
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ahem !

Updated to add:

Meg, that is only a provisional count.
If you want to do it, log in to your NaNoWriMo account,
then go to Edit User settings.
then Edit Novel Info Tab,
at the bottom of that page is the Word count Validator.
If you copy and paste your Opus Magnus into that, it will calculate your word count for you.
You still need to do it again offically after 25th November, but it will tell you now if you have reached your 50K target :-)


May I direct your attention to the widget below ?

I am so landed.

I never thought I would manage to complete NaNo and I HAVE DONE IT !!!!  The story is nowhere near ended, and I will carry on writing it , but :

Doing the Happy Dance.

I would be doing an even Happier Dance if dear Elizabeth is able to find a suitable home for herself and Cleo, though !
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


47, 023 words.

Perhaps it hasn't been such a bad NaNo day after all :-)
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The Burning Pen !

679 words in 20 minutes !

 That has to be my current writing record :-)

Find out how fast you can write with Write Or Die !
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Weather Woes

The weather remains truly dreadful.
High winds and torrential rain woke me in the night, and I could not get back to sleep, which was annoying. And then I overslept. The drive still cannot be concreted until the weather settles considerably.

It has been one of those days.

I have achieved fourof the tasks on my daily list, but not my NaNoWriMo target. I have only managed 500 words today instead of the 1700 minimum I try to adhere to. But, DD3 asked for pancakes for tea, so pancakes it was.
As I only have one pan, it does take rather a long time, but it was well worth it to have her follow me into the kitchen and we had undisturbed chatting time so she could tell me about her day whilst DD4 was happily occupied playing a game.

NaNoWriMo can wait, and I have done 45,000 words anyway, with 12 days still to go  :-)
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The Beatitudes

from the monks at Valaam.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Manic Monday

Well, I hope it will prove to be calmer than the weekend !

Friday, the builders came with a wonderful mini-digger to rip up the drive and the pathway to the house, prior to resurfacing. And then the rain came. And it rained. And rained. The drive and the path were reduced to gloop. And that was the only access point to the house. We ended up tottering along planks of wood, LOL.

Then the 80mph winds started to howl around the house like Wuthering Heights. With even more rain. As an added bonus, we had hailstones and  lightning. I have to say, it was good to be safely holed up indoors, with the wood-burning stove alight, listening to the elements battling outside !

In the midst of the dramatic weather, DoomHamster and fiance arrived to ponder over seating plans for the wedding reception, which is now less than two weeks away. Much was agreed, but we do still have a few problems to iron out, namely where to sit one fundmamentalist Christian, one outspoken unreconstructed pagan and a scattering of same-sex friends whose lifestyle is not in  keeping with the Church, and we have both our wonderful Parish priest and my equally wonderful godbrother who is a priest-monk attending too.

On Sunday, we had two sets of rainbows, much to the delight of the littlies and me.

It was also the 87th birthday of my mother's wonderful neighbour and friend, John.  He is alert, active and an inspiration to us all, and we all love him dearly. He has no children of his own, is widowed, and we made a special point of getting him a really nice card proudly emblazoned with "To a very special Uncle" from DD3&4, and Mum said that he was tickled pink with it.  He also had cards from DD1, DD2 and us, of course.

Oh, and NaNo ! Just when you thought you might escape without an update, I am now up to 40,029 words. I nearly killed off my hero's wife but thought better of it at the last moment. :-)
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day Part Two

Unfortunately, it is not possible to embed this video/music clip here , but it moves me to tears each time I hear it.
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Armistice Day

Today is the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and is Armistice Day.

For the last ten days, many people have been wearing their bright red poppies pinned to their lapels or in their coat buttonholes. I have been one of them, and so have my children. We wear our poppies with pride.

We have had many members of our family who have served Sovereign and Country in the Armed Forces, going back five or six generations which I know. Even in this generation, we have several serving relatives, and we are proud of them.

Becuase of work comittments, I was not sure whether I would be able to make it to our town centre, where the two minute silence would be observed at the eleventh hour......  I made it with a minute or two to spare, by dint of walking very quickly indeed, and I was glad to have made the effort, despite the bitter and numbing cold and the threatening rain.

Between 250 and 400 people were there, by my reckoning, and amongst them were quite a few youngsters in their twenties, as well as a number of people my own age and the bulk of the attendees were 60+.

It was a privilege to participate in paying  public tribute to those brave men and women who willingly sacrificed their lives for freedom and in the pursuit of peace.

It is a staggering fact that since the cessation of the Second World War, there has only been one single year in which no member of the British Armed and Merchant Services has been killed in conflict.

May they rest in peace , and Memory Eternal to each and every one of them.

"We Will Remember Them"

May God have mercy on us all........
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