Friday, July 22, 2011

Competition Link!

Have you ever wondered how best to explain Orthodoxy to your heterodox family and friends ?
This book looks simply wonderful and you can enter the competition to win a copy by linking to it.
Good luck !
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Recently Read

I've finally got round to uploading photos to the computer, so it is time for another Recently Read post :-)

I've introduced a new category of books I really wasn't enjoying and decided not to waste time finishing....

I have read The Prisoner of Zenda, many moons ago and enjoyed it then. I couldn't finish it this time.

The Alice Thomas Ellis book bored me to tears, and I simply couldn't engage with any of the characters in the first chapter.

The Complete Father Brown Stories was very variable in quality, in my opinion. Some of the stories were very clever indeed, but an equal number were weak in plot and not well characterised. I did get about half way through the huge tome before conceding defeat.

Dolly's War -  I did get three quarters of the way through this non-fiction "Life in theWar" book before abandoning it purely because I found the character of the narrator to be utterly objectionable. She portrayed herself as the sort of person I would have fled from if I had met her.

These two were from the Library. I have discovered that I really like Simon Scarrow's Roman military history books, and went on to buy several more from charity shops.....  The Mitch Albom book was also very enjoyable indeed, and I'm looking out for a copy of my own. The only book of his I really couldn't enjoy was The Five People You Meet In Heaven, though I really did try.....

BirdwatchingWatching was great fun ! A father who is a fanatical birdwatcher and his sceptical grown-up son decide on a year-long challenge to see who can spot the greatest number of bird species. I laughed till I cried at the sneaky tactics, military style planning and general shenanigans undertaken by both parties in a determined attempt to win.
 Definitely one of my Keepers!

The Godseekers Guide - well, I don't know what to say. I normally love everything written by Rabbi Lionel Blue, a truly gifted writer, but this book  just did not cut it for me.
 It was designed for those who feel there is a God-shaped hole in their lives and want to get closer to God, which is very commendable indeed, but it certainly isn't Orthodox reading, and I found the mention of homosexuals and their specific problems and needs, whch cropped up at least every few pages throughout the book, to become a little tedious, even though I have several homosexual friends. One's sexual orientation is not the be all and end all of life, when all is said and done. It may have been better entitled The Godseekers Guide For Those With Same-Sex Attraction and Lifestyle.

H V Morton's wonderful descriptions of English life and places spanning forty years are always a delight, and I was so pleased to find this book in a charity shop to add to my collection!

The Story of England was an excellent TV series, and I bought the book and enjoyed it. It covers the political, religious and social history of one ancient English village from virtually prehistoric times to almost the present-day, using archaeological evidence, documentary evidence and personal recollections, nicely woven into a very readable book.

This was a fun light read, based on the blog of the same name......

Spanish Steps was one of those books which really makes you wonder why the author bothered. I mean that in the nicest possible way, as I have read many of Tim Moore's books and enjoyed them. 
 Quite why an agnostic would want to travel the ancient pilgrim  route to the Shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela, an arduous and actually still quite dangerous journey by foot even in the present day, puzzles me. I remain puzzled, even after I finished the book !
Comments about people, places and donkeys are often sexually explicit , so Caveat Lector.......let the reader beware !
 This was one book I really did debate long and hard whether or not to bother finishing; I did finish it, but was vaguely disgruntled at having wasted time doing so when it really was not in the least edifying - even if the author did get the occasional religious insight, his constant blasphemies really did spoil it for me.

Ranulph Ffiennes book was fascinating. I always knew about him as an SAS man and a famous explorer, but I did not know he was a committed Anglican, whose faith means a great deal to him, as is evidenced in the book. He has diced with death so many times, pushing at the boundaries of what the human spirit and body can withstand - a truly remarkable man.

I know, more SAS military books. I really do enjoy them, and loved both of these. The Kremlin Device had an **excellent** plotline, as did Kill Zone. Both of these are keepers.

I remember being utterly enthralled watching Jane Lapotaire's wonderful portrayal of Marie Curie on TV when I was a teenager, and grabbed the chance to read this from the charity shop.  She suffered a serious brian aneurysm at a relatively young age, and this book chronicles her long, difficult and courageous attempt to rebuild her life after traumatic brain surgery, and how profoundly  the surgery affected her ability to maintain normal relationships with her dearest family and friends.

Another Simon Scarrow - what more need I say :-)

I was thrilled beyond measure to find this hardback in a charity shop :-)  An elderly friend of Mary Russell's finds an ancient manuscript when working in the Middle East which purports to be written by Mary Magdalene. When the elderly friend is killed  in mysterious circumstances, shortly after depositing the manuscript with Mary and her husband Sherlock Holmes,  the mystery gets deeper and deeper.....a cracking good read.

Life & Death On The Streets is a sobering look at the life of a paramedic in Britain. Funny, sad, tragic and terrifying in equal measure, this book is a tribute to all those who work as ambulance crew.

The Happiness Project  was found at the Library and I liked it so much that I am hunting for my own copy.The author decided to spend a whole year testing ideas on how to become happy. Some worked, some didn't, but the book was beautifully written and oh so funny. There is even a blog - written as part of the project.

The background story of the incedibly talented and incredibly private Georgette Heyer. I commend it highly, and after hearing the audio version, I went straight to EBay and bought a hard copy of the book to devour.

Nine Minutes Twenty Seconds is the length of time it took for a plane to crash after a propeller failure irrevocably damaged the engine of a small plane, and the gripping story of the passengers and crew who were on that flight., as well as the engineer who had previously inspected the propeller blade and passed it as fit to use. Heartbreaking in places, but always fascinating, I must stress that the engineer was subsequently exonerated of all blame when the investigation into the accident was concluded, as he had followed the procedures he was taught in all good faith, not knowing they were intrinsically flawed.

A Time Of Gifts is quite simply wonderful. The author, as a young man,  decided to walk from London to Constantinople, not long before Word War Two started to seethe into ferment. His experiences and reminescences are utterly enthralling, and well worth reading.

Even more Simon Scarrow :-)

A Nurse's War was so brave and poignant that it reduced me to tears on occasion. The author underwent truly arduous training as a nurse and was part of the Army medical teams that went to the battlefront in WW2 to nurse the injured soldiers. That was harrowing enough, but she subsequently worked in burns and plastic surgery units , which were still in their infancy, and the heroism of the men who were so gravely injured is heartrending yet inspiring. Well worth reading if you can find a copy.

I have read other books in this series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I have to say that I think the author was really running out of steam and subject matter when he wrote these. I read them, and they were okay, but they have gone straight on my pile to donate to the next charity sale.
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Monday, July 18, 2011


I found this clip from the funeral of the last of the Hapburg royal dynasty, Prince Otto, to be incredibly sobering and poignant.

As part of the funeral, the procession goes to the Capuchin Friars' Church in Vienna, and a formal  request for interrment of his body is made.

The request is rejected the first time when his noble lineage is read out: "We do not know him".

The request is rejected the second time, when all his personal achievements are listed: "We do not know him."

The third time, the request is made thus: "Otto, a humble sinner" , to which the reply is : "Thus you may enter here."

Wonderful stuff, and a sobering reminder that we stand before God not with our titles and achievements, but in humility.........

May Prince Otto rest in peace, and Memory Eternal.....

His titles were:
 His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke and Prince Imperial Otto of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia
By the Grace of God Emperor of Austria; King of Hungary and Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria; King of Jerusalem etc.; Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Silesia, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, Oświęcim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trento and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Woes

It has been another long, hard week. Mum continues to deteriorate steadily, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Today, she was only able to bear sitting on a chair for 45 minutes, before the discomfort drove her back to lie gratefully in her bed :-(
DH and I took the little ones up to see her, and DD4 especially was very distressed to see her beloved Nanny in such discomfort, even after taking her painkillers.

 I don't honestly know if it will be wise to take the girls up there again whilst Mum is unable to avoid vocalising her discomfort so constantly and obviously; I have tried to explain to them as best I can about my mother's disinhibition in expressing even quite minor discomfort. DD3 was able to understand this quite well at 13; DD4 less so at age 9.

Mum is actually on enormous doses of painkillers and her pain levels aren't as severe as the sounds make them appear to be; Mum is able to be distracted from vocalising her discomfort, and we were able to do that today by watching a TV programme with her, and she very soon stopped groaning, and started chatting about the programme until she felt too uncomfortable to sit up any longer, and I walked her back the short distance to her bed before leaving her to rest, and taking the children back home.

I need to phone the hospital in the morning to see if we can arrange an ambulance to take her to hospital on Thursday for her cataract operation to take place, as she is definitely not steady enough on her feet to be transported by car.
Prayers for Thursday will be much appreciated, and also for my dear friend Mary's husband Ray, who is also having an operation on that date.
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Boy

If I am on the computer at the desk,
the Dog of Doom feels compelled to sit at my feet
and squeeze his head under the desk so he can rest his head on my lap.

It does make for some fun photo opportunities :-)

And he likes sitting at DH's feet and resting his head
 on the crossed ankles of his Master....
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Photos Of My Garden

This one isn't a view from my eponymous Garden Window,
                                      but is one of the Gelsemium shrubs in my front garden :-)

Especially for Deb, my lavender shrub :-)

Honeysuckle and lavender - the smell is wonderful.

The lavender actually stands almost five feet tall from the ground......

If you click on the photo to enlarge, you can see a juvenile blackbird
 hiding under the raspberry canes.
He has loved being fed raspberries by his devoted parents !

The lavender attracts huge numbers of bees,
which makes me happy,
 even if they do move so quickly
I can only ever get blurred pictures of them!
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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Muscles. A Love- Hate Relationship

About a fortnight ago, I turned quickly on the driveway to run back to the house to fetch something and felt an excruciating pain in my left calf, along with adefinite prolonged ripping sensation  and great difficulty in walking... I had torn a muscle.

A few days later, I woke up to find my entire shin was yellow and black where the bleeding from the muscle tear had tracked through the tissue layers to manifest as bruising. After hobbling for several days, the muscle gradually began to heal, though I was still unable to walk quickly or for long distances without pain, which made walking DD4 to school something of an ordeal when DH was working away.

On Thursday morning, I climbed on a chair to get something from the top of one of the tall kitchen cabinets, and used my injured leg to get down first. This was a seriously bad move, as there was a return of the pain, the ripping sensation and a certain amount of shrieking from me. Luckily I did not lose my balance and fall, or I would have caused worse damage to my poor calf than I already have.

I woke up this morning to find, yet again, that my entire shin is black, blue and yellow with extensive brusing.

Ho hum. I shall be hobbling around for another few weeks, I suppose :-0
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Another Week....

Mum has been much brighter this week, since starting her new painkillers, which is great, but she has had two minor falls at home, requiring using her Lifeline tele-alarm to get the Mobile response Team out to assist her :-(

The first fall on Monday happened in the day, when she was getting from her chair back to her bed, but caused no injury and she was not unduly distressed as her dear friend John was with her, and kept her company till the emergency team got there.

 Last night, I had a phone call from the Lifeline service at 8pm . {Mum wears a small emergency alarm around her neck, so if she falls or feels ill, she has only to press the button on the alarm and it automatically dials up the Lifeline service, and the operator can talk to Mum via the loudspeaker telephone attachment. It is all very clever stuff, and makes such a difference to her confidence , knowing that she can always get help, no matter what time of the day or night.}

Mum had fallen, and they had despatched the Mobile response Team to assist her, but they were concerned because she was very distressed. DH drove me up, so I was there within five minutes, and I found Mum on the floor, no serious injuries, but very upset and scared. The Lifeline operator had stayed on the phone to talk to her and reassure her until I arrived, which was great. Within twenty minutes, the Team arrived and used their special equipment to get her off the floor, back on her feet, and safely back in bed. Her only injury was a small graze to one hand, so she was very fortunate, thank God.

She had gone to bed, slept for a while and woken up very disorientated as to time, and got up, thinking it was morning and she needed to use one of her asthma pumps which she keeps by her chair. This shouldn't have been a problem, but she hadn't used her Zimmer walking frame for support, and had consequently wobbled and fallen. It was such a shame, as she had had a really good day apart from that. She is eating better, is much chirpier and happier, and is very much improved from last week, though her physical condition is still desperately frail.......

The Mobile Team said they would contact the Carer Service to request a formal review for Mum by a multi-disciplinary team, who will re-assess her current care package, and what alterations need to be made to make things safer. She may well need a late-night carer just to pop in and make sure she is safely in bed with no problems, as currently, she has a carer attend in the morning to get her washed, dressed and up for the morning and another carer visits about 6pm to get her ready for bed and settled for the night. In the meantime, Mum's friend John and I take turns to be with her in the daytime.

Quite how long she is going to be able to stay at home alone at night is debatable; she is adamant she wants to stay in her own home and not move in with us.  I think she may well need a night-sitter soon, just to keep an eye on her throughout the night.........

On a happier note, on Tuesday I could see from her bedroom window that her golden roses were in bloom. The bush was planted by my late step-father, and produces luscious huge flowers with a truly delightful scent. I went and cut some of the flowers and put them in a vase by Mum's bed, where she spends  the vast majority of her time, so she can see them clearly and enjoy the lovely fragrance. Such a little thing, but it has brought her such delight and pleasure! By Thursday, the blossoms were fading so I cut her some more, including rosebuds, which have lasted really well.

 She smiles each time she looks at them :-)
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Saturday, July 02, 2011

A Day With Mum

Mum has had a nasty chest infection which has made her rather confused on occasions throughout this week. She is on strong oral antibiotics, having vehemently refused medical advice to go into hospital to have IV antibiotics.

This is what happened on Thursday.........

Up at 6 am, got the children's breakfasts, lunches made and all ready for school. As soon as DD4 was safely in school DH drove me to Mum's so I could make sure she had her antibiotics at 9 am, as the carers don't arrive till around 10 am for this week's schedule.

She was awake when I arrived, so she had her meds, and I made her a nice cup of coffee, which she enjoyed. She said she wasn't hungry and didn't want her breakfast just yet, so I pottered in the kitchen, sorting things out. She called, so I went to her room to see what she needed. 

" I need more tablets"

"No, you've had the antibiotics. You don't need any more tablets till 10.30."

"Oh. I need more pads. Find me another pack of pads! I need pads straight away!"

"Which pads do you need? The big ones to go on the mattress, or your special ones for your undies ?"


"But which one, love?"

"The one you just said, of course!"

I showed her the bed protecting pads, and she shook her head. Wasn't those. 

I showed her her incontinence pads. Wasn't those either.

"You're not listening to me. Why don't you listen to me and just get me my digital pills like I have been asking you for ages?"

"What do you mean, digital pills, Mum ? You haven't got any digital pills." I was completely baffled by this point, not being blessed with the ability to mind-read......

"I need more digital pills ! Please listen to me and get me my digital pills!" She was getting very irate and agitated by this point, so instead, I asked her to tell me *what* she needed them for, because I didn't have a clue what she was trying to make me understand at this point........

"I need them for the carer to wipe me with, of course !" was the indignant reply.

It transpired that she wanted me to get another pack of wet wipes from the box by her bed and put them on her trolley table which goes over the bed, even though she already had a full pack of wet wipes in the trolley.

She lay back on her pillows, exhausted, and I retreated to the safety of the kitchen, boiled the kettle and made myself a stiff cup of coffee, ready for the next conversation......

Once she was washed and dressed, and sitting out in her chair, she was chirpy and much more coherent, even though she was dozing back to sleep every few minutes. I sat on the settee by her, reading my book while she slept, and talking when she wanted to talk, and we had a very companionable day after the slightly strange start !
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