Friday, July 31, 2009

Old Believer Wedding In Alaska

This is a delightful snapshot of an Old Believer wedding in Alaska. It looks a vibrant and living community, Glory to God. I wouldn't have described them as "frozen in time", though :-)

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Thursday, July 30, 2009


Our torrential rain, almost constant throughout this week, was still going strong most of this morning.

By midday, the clouds had disappeared, the sky was 90% blue and I felt as if I had Cabin Fever. What is far more likely is that a whole week away from the charity bookshop in town is more than I can bear :-)

The young ones and I grabbed our jackets and bags and we walked to town. This is the first substantial walk I have taken since my operation, and I have to say, that after visiting the Public Library (bliss!), doing a small modicum of essential shopping and browsing in the charity shop, where the girls and I each came home with three books (utter bliss!), I was all too happy to hop on the bus and wend my way wearily home. That small outing has rendered me really exhausted, so I need to build up my stamina again and visit more bookshops..........

The only caveat is that I simply cannot carry any weights at all at the moment, without causing abdominal pain, which does rather restrain my book-buying addiction........
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flickering Lights

Today, for the first time in ages, I wanted to light the lampada in my icon corner.
I felt an unutterably overpowering *need* to do so.

So I did.

I said morning prayers there, and midday prayers. Each time I walked past the icon corner (it is in our dining room, and to get to the kitchen and the back garden, it is necessary to go through that room!), the sight of the flickering, shining light, casting a wonderful golden glow on all the icons was like a beacon, reminding me of God's love and care for us all.

Each time I saw it, it called me to a a few moments of prayer and gave me some measure of peace in my aching heart.

Simply walking through the room with no lampada burning has never ever had that effect on me, and the oil in the lampada has now burnt out, so the corner is again shrouded in shadow as the daylight begins to fail on this dismal, gloomy and torrentially raining day......

I must make a concerted effort to light the lampada regularly again, to continually call me to prayer and repentance, and to remind me of God.
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Edited to add :

Thank you for the outpouring of love and prayers on us all.

The medical team was very patient and thorough, and gave me the rationale for absolutely everything they planned to do.

The reason that Mark will not receive antibiotics is that the infections he has so far suffered have been of very rapid onset/progress and were not amenable to oral antibiotic treatment, mainly because of his vomiting at least three or four times a day at totally unpredictable times. The vomiting itself does not respond to any medication at all. So absorption this route would be unreliable and ineffective.

Almost all his peripheral veins in arms, legs etc are either completely shot after twenty weeks of constant IV treatment for blood draws, medication, blood transfusions or blood products, or the veins are shutting down fast, which we saw for ourselves.

It was explained to us that the only other option would be face/scalp veins, which would be constantly painful and not very practical in an adult, or putting in a highly invasive central line which carries a multitude of risks because of his marked tendency to haemorrhage due to the almost total liver shutdown.

A central line itself could kill him before any IV antibiotics would have chance to help him........

As his veins continue to shut down, eventually the current medication given IV daily will be withdrawn. But not just yet.

So all in all, I can agree with their position that they do not want to cause him any more pain than is necessary when the benefits would be unpredictable at best, non-existent at worst.

He eats virually nothing, and has not for a long while because of the frequent vomiting and constant nausea, but he does take high-calorie/protein total nutrition drinks which are prescribed for him, and he will continue to be offered these freely.


I can only now bear to write this.

At the lengthy meeting with my brother's doctor on Monday, several things have been formally decided and recorded in his medical notes :

1/ He cannot come home to my mum's, as the only care package we will be eligible for would only allow for 3 X 1 hour visits per day by carers. He needs far more nursing care than this, according to the doctors and especially in view of my mum's age (73) and her own very poor health. If he lived in a different administrative catchment area, we would be able to get a lot more care :-(

His estranged wife is adamant that she does not want to have him back at the marital home under any circumstances.

2/ There will be no more heroic, painful or highly interventive medical measures undertaken.
He is now officially DNR.
He will continue to receive the same high quality nursing and palliative medical care as he is currently, including nutrition, hydration and analgesia.
If he develops major infections, he will only be kept comfortable, not treated aggressively, as he has been hitherto.

And that is it.

We have been told that to continue with highly invasive medical treatments will be an exercise in futility and cause him far too much pain for the vanishingly small benefit they will give him at this late stage in his illness.

Nature will be allowed to take her inexorable and inevitable course over an indeterminate period of time.

My heart is breaking and I feel as if I have personally signed his death warrant by giving assent to this.

My head tells me this is all rational, sensible decision-making for someone whose life is drawing to its close, but he is my brother, and I do not want to accept that his death is both inevitable and so close. I do not want him to die.........

Lord have mercy on us all.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009


Mum and I have been asked to go into hospital to meet with my brother's Doctor within the next few days, most likely sometime Monday.
It is not going to be good news.


My Godmother, the Presbytera Celia, reposed two weeks ago today. I am finding it very hard to come to terms with.
Prayers for her repose, and for all of us who mourn her would be so much appreciated.

I am not having a good day physically today, with lots of heartburn, indigestion, stomach and back pain. I didn't feel as bad as this the day after my operation, to be honest. And DH has to go back to work tomorrow, and won't be home till Weds night :-(

Off to hunt up some painkillers and antacid medicine from the cupboard instead of indulging in self-pity !
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Praying for Stellan

Stellan is back in hospital, in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
His heart arrythmias have returned with a vengeance and are not responding to medications.
He is really very poorly indeed, reading MckMama's most recent Twitter updates....

Please, please pray for this dear little baby..........
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

More Caroline Lawrence

The young ones both now have a signed copy of Caroline Lwrence's books. DD4 has a copy of the penultimate book, "The Prophet From Ephesus" about the four youngsters' meeting with St John. The quotation she wrote means "Let us love one another", from St John's Gospel.

DD3's photos to follow !
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More Reading

This first book, the expensive and very slim journal of Jane Pugin, wife of the inspired architect who gave us the 19th century Gothic revival in Britain and the colonies, is a touching and heartfelt account of her brief marriage cut tragically short by her beloved husband's death at the age of 40. A jolly expensive book, at £19.99 for only 89 pages including the index, but all the proceeds go to the Landmark Trust, which purchased and lovingly restored the Pugin designed and built family home for the Nation's enjoyment.

I adore travel books, the older the better. This serendipitous find, "The Netherlands; A Study of Some Aspects of Art, Costume and Social Life", complete with dustwrapper, and for only 80p in a thrift shop is wonderful. Dating back to 1948, this book by Sir Sacheverell Sitwell is a fascinating read and has some lovely illustrated plates.
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Just Finished

Amo, amas, amat is a delight. A whistle-stop tour of Latin grammar, interspersed with anecdotes and political/social commentary given Latin tags. This is my second reading of this newly acquired book :-)

I loved this one. Full of useful insights into surviving life in France and understanding the French. Negotiating cafes, the French medical system, working in France - all are covered.
Needless to say, much emphasis is placed on the necessity of learning the correct pronunication of key French phrases in order to avoid utter disaster. To mispronounce "Merci beaucoup" means you have not said "Thank you very much", but instead "Thanks, beautiful a*se".
Not a mistake you want to make if your are trying to make friends or influence people.......

I really enjoyed the last book very much indeed. It is so all-encompassing that my initial impression is one of being rather overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of knowledge it contains.
How India has changed over the last fifty years is an utterly fascinating subject, but the author's perceptions of how Western life has changed in tandem are also enlightening.

The uneasy relationship between Christianity in India and the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu religions is explored in depth, and although some of the authors' Anglican views sit rather uneasily on Orthodox ears, much of what he has to say is valid and fruitful.

The section on political economy is of particular interest, which rather surprised me as I was quite prepared to simply skim over that part :-)

More books will follow shortly :-)
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Today, DH offered to take me to a closing down sale at a major bookstore about half an hour's drive away from us. I yielded instantly to temptation and we spent about an hour and a half browsing.

It was utterly chaotic. The shop was well-staffed, most of them were standing around doing little and had allowed the stock which remained to have become utterly disorganised.
It was utterly impossible to find anything as all fiction and non-fiction were hopelessly jumbled. On one shelf, self-help books jostled next to gardening, sex manuals, foreign language textbooks and children's books.

I know the shop is closing down, but common sense would dictate that you would sell far more books if they were kept in broadly accurate categories of fiction and non-fiction at the very least..........

I did manage to get a few gems, at 50% discount, so that made the trip worthwhile. My DH deserves a medal :-)
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Busy Day

Just a very brief note to say that I was able to attend my Godmother's funeral today.

I have been out of the house since 9.30am and got home at 6pm. I am physically shattered but so very glad that I was well enough to go. It was a beautiful, heart-rending and joyful service. It was the first Orthodox funeral I have ever been to, as a matter of fact.

I am shortly heading up to bed to get some much needed rest.This is the first day since my operation that I have been "up" all day without a rest and I don't want to push my recuperative luck too far :-)

To the Presbytera Celia - Memory Eternal !
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Monday, July 20, 2009

On The Mend

I am continuing to get better steadily, and am now pottering around the house and walking easily. I've only needed one dose of painkillers today, but will take some more at bedtime to try to get a good night's rest.
Tomorrow is Presbytera Celia's funeral, which I hope to attend, if I am feeling up to the train journey on my own.......
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Safely Home !

I am safely home and tucked up in bed recovering from my cholecystectomy.

I had a pretty rough night, with a lot of vomiting, despite having been given a cocktail of drugs that apparently are normally given to people having chemotherapy to prevent vomiting. They didn't work, so I didn't get much sleep until 5am.....

I am much better now, and came home after lunch, of which I managed to eat only a little. Since at home I have managed to eat some food and am feeling much more chipper.

The Consultant said it was as well the gallbladder was removed as it had stuck itself to part of my duodenum and would have led to major and possibly life-threating complications in another year or two. So I am profoundly thankful it has been removed...........

Thank you all for your ind prayers !
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Getting Ready

I'm just finishing my last minute packing to get ready to go into hospital this afternoon for my gall bladder operation.
I have spent more time deliberating over what prayerbooks to take with me than over my clothing, LOL. That's when you know you are Orthodox....... !

All being well, I should be home tomorrow evening.
There is no wireless access at the hospital so I will be incommunicado till I get back home.

I would be thankful for your prayers....and for my Godmother Celia, whose funeral will take place on Tuesday of next week.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Recently Read

I love visiting historical places. Castles, churches, cathedrals, stately homes - all are a source of fascination. I was delighted when I found these first two books in a local thrift shop, as they chronicle in loving detail what goes on "behind the scenes" at one historic National Trust house in Norfolk, namely Felbrigg. Utterly engrossing and delightful !

Also read, but not photographed, was Sam Bourne's "The Righteous Men". I was a little taken aback by the multiple repetitions of "Christ" used as a blasphemous expletive, which majorly detracted from my enjoyment of the book . It was an excellent thriller to anyone with an interest in Hassidic Jewish beliefs in a modern day world tied up with a pseudo-Christian cult determined to kill all the last "Righteous Men" alive in the world......

The last book, by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, I found to be particularly noteworthy. So much of what he writes is of relevance to Christians as well as Jews, and the topic of the Ethics of responsibility is of great importance to us all. I enjoyed his thoughts on life in the modern world, though I cannot, as an Orthodox Christian, agree with all his views, especially the Jewish teaching that God reated the world deliberately imperfect and it is man's task to improve upon it.......but well worth reading, nevertheless.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Memory Eternal.....

My Godmother, the Presbytera Celia, reposed very peacefully at home last night.

Our prayers were answered and she had a truly Christian ending to her life, surrounded by her family, who were singing Orthodox hymns and praying as she passed from this life.

Please pray for the repose of her soul and for comfort to her family and our parish.

Memory Eternal !

Memory Eternal !

Memory Eternal !
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Begging For Prayers

......for my beloved Godmother, the Presbytera Celia, whose life is drawing peacefully to a close.
I was able to visit her today, to say goodbye, and to spend time with her family, my Godfather and my "God-brother". It was a privileg and a blessing to be there, with my DD1.

When I returned home, I received news that my brother has had a major haemorrhage from the site where the last stomach drain was done. He is stable now, but pretty poorly and very frightened.

And on Friday, I will be going into hospital to have my gallbladder removed.

Things are just incredibly stressful here at the moment.

I am so thankful for the strong loving support from my beloved husband.

"For a Christian ending to our lives, painless, blameless, unashamed, and a good defence before the judgement seat of Christ, grant this O Lord".

Lord have mercy !
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Monday, July 06, 2009

More News

My brother will be having a major 21 litre drain of fluid from his abdomen at some point today.

It is a painful and unpleasant procedure which normally leaves him exhausted and very poorly for several days afterwards. He is dreading it.

Please keep Mark in your prayers.......
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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Full Steam Ahead !

Apologies for the dearth of posts recently, but both family and voluntary work commitments are keeping me on a pretty overloaded schedule right now. There just don't seem to be enough hours in each day at the moment.

Added to this are some health issues that need dealing with, namely my troublesome gallstones ! I have an appointment with a surgeon on Friday to discuss whether/when they need to be removed. If surgery is needed, I am hoping I can get it done whilst the children are on their summer break from school, so at least I won't be having to walk them back and forth to school each day, and I will have chance to recuperate before term starts in early September.

My brother's health remains pretty much the same, with no improvement at all over the last few weeks. The stress is taking its toll on all of us, and he was feeling very low himself on Friday. He has been in hospital for 14 weeks so far, with no hope of him coming home for the forseeable future.........

Both my godparents are in poor health; I would greatly appreciate your prayers for the Priest Luke and the Presbytera Celia if you have chance. They are both very dear to our family !
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