Daily Diary


Today’s warmth has brought out countless dandelions that are covering the  lawns like a carpet.  The intense yellow of the dandelions, combined with the rich green of the grass present us with a living picture.  We no longer think of them as weeds, but as dear friends that can be gathered [and even eaten]. While Father Moses was in the dental clinic getting his broken tooth repaired, Vladika Lazar and I went to a large store to pick up a wireless printer and some other necessities. I was proud of him for all the walking he did, while using a walker.  I must admit that I walked with my two canes and could not keep up with his pace.  Some friends arrived to paint the wooden crosses a task that has to be repeated almost every year.  I am grateful that they are so anxious to this work.  Andy told us that the winecap mushrooms have already begun to appear, but I did not have the energy to gather any of them.


What a great difference a bright, sunny and warm day can make, as it did today. I made two trips into town, the first for Father Moses who had his broken tooth examined and who will have it repaired tomorrow, while the second was for Vladika Lazar who visited his family doctor who had encouraging words for him. I spoke with Mark who had taken some superb photos during the Paschal service. He has forwarded them to us and they can be seen on the Canadian Orthodoxy site on facebook. We spent considerable time in planning where to hang the new icon and we ultimately decided to hang it on the iconostas in the old church where it would fit perfectly. I hope that the Russian site will be up soon.


Today is commonly known as a memorial day when people gather to pray for the repose of their loved ones and to visit their graves at the cemetery.  Although we had done this on Sunday, nevertheless some people came to the monastery today for this purpose, bringing flowers and blini, as is customary.  Then we experienced a joyous moment when George and Irina Elbakidze donated an old icon to our monastery.  No one can date it accurately, but we believe that it must be at least two hundred years old.  This icon of Jesus Christ the Great Hierarch came from Ulansk in present day Kazakhstan and undoubtedly is of Russian Old Ritualist origin.  It about two feet by three and it had been broken in half from severe warping.  George, being a professional fine arts restorer, patiently straightened the wood and inserted wooden braces behind, then restored the damaged parts of the image.  It is dark in colour, as icons were often painted thus, thinking that it was the original colour, not realizing how darkened icons became over the centuries.  We understand that it had connections with the descendants of the Pugachev uprising in which many Old Believers were involved.  I am uncertain about where we will hang it, but it will have a place of honour, this being the second very old Old Believer icon donated to us.


I had some difficulty with my computer so I am using Vladika’s, which feels so different and so this entry might end up being brief. The foot nurse came again today, bringing a bouquet of daffodils and a pot of sorrel that will soon be transplanted among the herbs. Two boxes of candles arrived at the post office. I was mistaken in thinking that we had run out of candles when, indeed, there was still a large box full of candles hidden somewhere. Now we shall have enough for a long time.


We were excited to see Vladika Lazar walk into the church during the Divine Liturgy, at the end of which he gave a short sermon and blessed the Holy Well and the addition to it that is almost finished.  We also served a memorial litany today for all the departed rather than on Tuesday when it is usually appointed, as few people would be able to come on that day.  Baby Taisia, who will be baptized next Sunday, was so well behaved during the Liturgy and at the Agape meal Vladika held her for a while.  As most of the computers and the printer had already been moved to the cottage, Vladika still needed the large wall monitor which proved to be a problem because of its weight and having to be mounted on a wall.  Andy came to the rescue and did a splendid job of mounting it.  Even though this happened about two hours ago, Vladika has begun posting videos of sermons that were filmed during his stay in the hospital.


We have had many visitors today, starting early in the morning and ending in mid evening.  Kyril and Vanya came later than usual, yet still managed to complete a number of tasks. Then, Lija came with Olga, bringing food and groceries for us, followed by Marina and Sergei who also brought food.  After Vespers we had supper that turned out to be a feast in itself.  Some of the food was brought over to Vladika who enjoyed it.  When Thomas had taken Vladika to the clinic in Mission earlier in the day, they bought a table that was put next to the one already in use, giving us at least twelve feet of computer working space.  I hope that next week we can go into a speedy recovery of our previous activity that was interrupted by Vladika’s stroke and operation.


Superstitious people claim that any Friday the thirteenth of any month is certain to bring bad luck and, if that were so, we should have experienced such bad luck today, yet I cannot recall a single such incedent,  unless one thinks that a rainy day constitutes misfortune! I baked two prosphoras using different techniques in their rising.  Unfortunately, nothing will be known until they are cut open.  For some reason, we have had less Paschal cheese [syrnaya paskha] than in other years, and we ate the last of it today.  As for the Paschal breads [kulichy] we still have some lift to enjoy for a couple of days.  No, this is not a hint to have more brought to us.


As it so often happens, upon reflecting on the events of the day, there seems nothing worth mentioning.  And this is what I thought tonight, until I began to recall the interesting events of the day.  A young nurse, a man from Manitoba originally and of a Mennonite background, came to tend to Vladika’s dressings.  Then a home care woman came to help Vladika, after which Elena arrived to prepare soup and a main course for Vladika and, soon after that, Nikolai came to clean and repaint a memorial cross  that he had earlier promised to do.  It was a surprise to see Vlad come to work again on the structure for the Holy Well, accompanied by his wife Doina who had been away in Romania for at least two months, looking after her ailing mother.  How wonderful it was to see her back again.  Our kids came from the city and worked on the computers, also bringing Vladika’s main computer from its original place and setting it up here in the little cottage, making half the kitchen look like a computer centre.


Although it has been cool and damp, spring is evident everywhere.  Driving through residential areas is much like driving through a park.  Flowers, shrubs and trees are bedecked with the bright colours of spring.  In fact, as I walk out of my door, I am greeted with the spicy fragrance of the mahonia bushes and the pale pink of the camellia bush.  Vlad and Dan worked much of the day in finishing the structure that will be the source of the spring, the living water, whose feast we will remember this Friday, with probably a Cross Procession and a blessing next Sunday.  Vladika Lazar, Father Moses and I went into town for a while this afternoon and, upon our return, we found Glyko and Joanna ready to leave.  They had come in our absence and decided to wait for us, meanwhile making some tea for themselves.


Father Vasili’s visit came to an end and we were sorry to see him leave, but he undoubtedly will be back before long.  I cannot say that we were exceedingly active, as we are still recovering from the services of Holy Week and Pascha.  It seems almost unusual to have fewer services now.  We had a wonderful telephone call from Svetlana in Volgograd who sends  greetings and love to everyone and says how much she misses all of our people.  She constantly reminds people there of the love and care that are to be found among all of our people. If that is really what others see in us, then we must make an effort to continue and even to increase this love among ourselves.


How quiet it has been today after all the services of Holy Week and Pascha, and how welcome this has been.  We discovered that we ran out of candles and barely had enough for the main service.  Although we quickly reordered candles, they will not arrive in time for Thomas Sunday so we shall have to come up with an idea or two to deal with this.  We have been enjoying the visit of Father Vasili and of David Goa and his wife Anna Altman who, by the way is my goddaughter. Her knitting is exquisite and I asked her to knit me an ecclesiastical scarf for next winter.


Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen!
We greet everyone on this holiest and most joyous feast of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  I was pleased that I was given enough strength to serve the Paschal Matins and the Liturgy.  At 9:30 the readers began reading in various languages and at midnight the Cross Procession began with no rain to hinder us.  The church was filled  with people standing right up to the ambon. The singing was probably the best that it has ever been and the hours slipped by quickly.  Countless baskets were blessed and, even though many left for home, there was scarcely enough room in the hall and the other rooms for the breaking of the fast.  The last people left after 5 a.m. but Father Moses and Thomas stayed up until ten to be present at the Typica service. I was surprised to see more than forty people who came for this brief service and the tables were once again covered with baskets full of eggs, cheese, breads, etc.  It became obvious that we shall be having such Typica services in future years. 


Today there was a combined service for the feast of the Annunciaton and for Holy Saturday.  Father Alexey served the lengthy service after which there was a rush to clean up the church, hall and kitchen for the great feast itself.  We were amazed to see a donation of one hundred sturdy and attractive folding chairs for the hall and dining room, given by a pious family. It is almost time to go to church now and I might just add that Vladika Lazar was informed a while ago they he will be discharged tomorrow morning, so it will be a joyous Pascha for him and for all of us.


This is Holy and great Friday for Orthodox Christians, a day of fasting and preparing oneself for the great and sacred feast of Holy Pascha.  Father Vasili arrived from Florida, although there has not been much time to visit with him, and David and Anna came from Edmonton and have already visited Vladika Lazar.  The combined Vespers and Matin service this evening was very good.  I had hesitations because we were so used to having Vladika Lazar in charge of the entire service, but really, I was quite satisfied. The women did a splendid job of decorating the tomb as they do each year  but it is a pity that the garlands of flowers do not last long enough.


Since I have less and less energy, I was grateful that Father Alexey served the Divine Liturgy this morning.  During the day I spent time correcting the books to be used for tonight’s service and really had no time to rest, so when the evening service began I felt weaker than usual, and finally had to leave Father Alexey and Father Moses to carry on with the service while Andrey walked me to my cottage where I am now resting.  I do not like to find myself in this situation, but old age does creep up on one and it must be taken into account.


With each passing day we come closer to the Feast of Feasts, Holy Pascha.  Tonight’s Healing Service brought many out to hear prayers and readings in various languages.  Father Alexey and Father Moses served together with me, while the readers were encouraged to do more than they usually do.  It was also pleasant to see some people whom we had not seen in a few years.  Our neighbour texted me a message, “Our resident bear is awake.”  This does not mean that the bears will be dangerous, but we shall try to keep out of their way.


I was grateful to Thomas for driving me to the hospital to visit Vladika Lazar.  Usually I use a walker to navigate the long corridors and halls, but his time Thomas got me one of the hospital wheelchairs and pushed me all the way to Vladika’s room.  I must admit that it was enjoyable scurrying down the corridors rather than hobbling along as I usually do.  It was also good to see Vladika in good spirits and able to walk greater lengths and more often than before.  We had a Georgian contingency for the Bridegroom Service this evening and we are preparing to have at least one Epistle read in Georgian during tomorrow’s Healing Service.  We had no rain today but it was cool and even chilly.


On this first day of the month of April we celebrated the feast of the Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem, often simply called Palm Sunday.   The palms, brought by Gerry a couple of days ago,  were blessed during Matins and so many people attended the service that we soon ran out of palms.  The church was packed with many standing outside in the cool morning air.  Soon after the Agape meal most of the people left which did not allow us to have one last singing rehearsal, so we shall rely on God’s mercy to allow the singing during the Pascal service to be good.  For the evening Bridegroom Service there were only three of us—Father Moses, Reader Markel and I, although I felt that it was a meaningful and profound service.  It was the first of the Holy Week services and, before long, we shall be at the Pascal service itself.


It took a bit of thinking about which tables stood where in the hall, but I think that they eventually were returned to their proper positions.  The carpet in the hall looks so fresh, while the one in the new church actually beams with new life.  The two Natashas together with Georgy and Kyrill rushed about, doing as much as possible before returning home.  I visited Vladika Lazar who was pleased with the number of visitors who came to see him.  In the early evening, the Dimerbash family arrived with Turkish chiorba, a lentil and bean soup full of proteins, and Turkish olives.  Needless to say that the food brought by Olga and Lija was also appreciated, it is just he cannot eat all that is brought for him.  Kyrill has become somewhat of a handyman, having repaired my broken table, hanging icons,  all the while walking about with hammer, screwdriver and drill, anxious to do the next job.  He gave me a new and much larger monitor which impressed me greatly.  Not only is it larger, but it also is easier on the eyes.


I went to town to do some errands and it suddenly dawned on me that today was a public holiday, that is, Good Friday for the non Orthodox, but one could hardly realize that there was some sort of reverence for this day, as the only thing one could see were chocolate bunnies and candy eggs in the stores.  These pagan items, in fact items of ancient fertility cults, were entirely cut off from Christ’s Crucifixion and His Resurrection.  Because many people had this day off, we had numerous visitors here at the monastery, and we also managed to visit Vladika Lazar who was in good spirits.


A work party has toiled this day.  The pantry was emptied, washed and cleaned, then the cans, jars, etc were returned while whatever was past the due date was set aside.  Some things had been sitting there for about four years.  Carpet cleaners came to clean our carpets, some of which needed more attention than others.  Elena prepared a huge meal for all the workers, while Yuri, Liuda  and Dima did much of the moving of furniture and general cleaning.  Zhenya came with her younger son Makar, later joined by her husband Anton and older son Timothy who also rolled up their sleeves to help. Lija came later because she was tied up in the traffic and I have to thank all these people for coming to help us here at the monastery.  The carpet cleaners donated their work and time, and they also must be thanked for their contribution.


This evening I heard, for the first time, the pleasant croaking of frogs in the distance and I suddenly realized how much I missed their vocal serenading.  At the Presanctified Liturgy Altita came with her two youngest sons, one of whom, Augustus [Paul], had just returned from Scotland where he and his older brother Nicholas had gone to play soccer.  He did not mind that they lost some of the games for they had much fun in Sterling, Scotland.  Vladika Lazar is getting many visitors now and that has cheered him up immensely.


Many bushes, among them the camellias, have budded forth informing us that spring is definitely here, even if we think otherwise at times.  We served a memorial service at the request of a woman living here for the repose of her mother who suddenly died in Russia. Later in the afternoon I visited Vladika Lazar  and Glyko popped in at almost the same time.


As soon as I had my spinal decompression, I hurried to the hospital to visit Vladika Lazar who was pleased to see me.  I felt sorry for Vladika, as no one had dropped in for even a minute to see him on Sunday, the previous day.  Of all the dozens of us in church, not even one came to visit him.  I probably cannot imagine how he feels, being almost totally bedridden for close to six months and on this Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt he must have felt as if he were alone in the desert.  Have we become so callous with cold hearts that we cannot drop in for even a ten minute visit?  I left the hospital with tears in my eyes!


Dima Gusev baked a number of loaves of pure rye bread that were used as a fund raising event.  They were quickly snapped up because he bakes an exquisite rye bread that cannot be done better by anyone.  The talent must run in the family because his father, Yuri, bakes a different type of bread, using only a mixture of natural flours, water and salt, and letting the dough rise for at least 18 hours before baking.  There were several bags of children’s clothes in the corridor and I noticed that they were almost entirely taken by those who needed them for their own children.  A group of people tackled the library, making great effort to bring some order to it, as it has been neglected and many books that were donated were simply left there.


This was one of those few days when we had fairly normal weather, while areas closer to Vancouver even had some snow.  Thomas drove me to visit Vladika Lazar at the hospital and we found him in good spirits, having been told that his healing was coming along well.  The new procedure was not only doing its job, but also giving him a brighter outlook on his situation.  We laughed as we looked at the wild geese sitting on the edge of the roof, honking loudly and looking somewhat ridiculous and this natural entertainment could be seen from Vladika’s bed.  We baptized a two month old baby boy with the name of Kion, a name that I could not recall but, indeed, there is an ancient martyr Kion from the early fourth century with that name.


I visited Vladika Lazar who finally has been moved from Emergency to the ward where he should be, although the wait was quite long.  The room is semiprivate giving him a beautiful view of nearby nature.  The procedure that was intended for him has begun and we pray that it will hasten the healing of his wound.  He actually looks good and his sense of humour has remained intact.  I was disappointed with the prosphora that I baked today, for I could not locate the proper pan and so I used a large cookie sheet which caused the prosphora to crack across the top.   When I returned from the hospital, I baked another one, this time the result was satisfying with a perfect seal on top.


As a reminder that winter can still play tricks on us, even though we are officially in spring,  the mountains around us are covered with a light blanket of snow that should disappear by late tomorrow.  I spent much of the day in the hospital with Vladika who again was lying in a corridor, waiting for a bed to be freed.  Finally they came for him and wheeled him into a bright room with a large window so that he can gaze out into the surrounding nature.  They also quickly tended to his needs and began the special procedure that he had been waiting for.  Zhenya and Marina came with food and soon began massaging his legs which gave him much comfort.  Our Joana, who is always so active, has ended up in the hospital just a few feet away from Vladika, suffering from an enlarged kidney stone. 


This has been a warm day that offered me the opportunity to prune a couple of hydrangea bushes that, if done correctly, will bloom through the summer and into late autumn.  We had many people present for the Presanctified Liturgy, many of whom stayed for a modest lenten meal that followed.  It felt good to be surrounded by such kind and believing people and I truly felt blessed.  Georgeta and Sorin are leaving tomorrow for Germany where their son plays professional football, but they will return in time for Holy Week.  We got to meet Iosif’s wife and son who arrived from Georgia last Saturday.  They came with Andrey to read an akathist in Georgian and we welcomed them to Canada, their new home.


I awoke later than usual, then tended to office and paper work that had been ignored for some time.  I also wrapped a large parcel of books, only to discover that there were two separate orders, so it had to be opened and rewrapped as two individual orders.  It was my fault for being inattentive.  While tending to errands in town, I was repeatedly amazed by the kindness of people in general.  Hobbling along with two canes, whenever I approached a closed door, someone would rush to open it for me, one man even left his place in the queue to help me, even though I am not helpless.


Today passed by very quietly with almost nothing of significance to mention.  Yuri began baking his famous bread but someone turned off the oven and, consequently, the bread was a failure.  In future he will have to post a sign informing anyone who walks into the kitchen that there is bread baking in the oven. Late in the afternoon, after Thomas had taken Vladika Lazar to the Wound Clinic, he was informed that he could stay in hospital for a while is he wished because of some special procedure used to hasten healing.  We shall now just wait and see what becomes of this episode.


I came to church late this morning as there were a number of things that had to be done first.  As Father Alexey was serving, I could not see the congregation behind me while I was sitting next to the stand where confessions are heard.  At Communion time I went into the altar and, when I turned around, I was surprised to see the huge number of people present, including new families that have moved to British Columbia from cold Alberta. Kirill, who has become somewhat of a handyman here, could hardly wait to be asked to do something.  Many tasks that have been put aside were completed by him. Later, he and Dima reorganized the reception room which now looks like what it is supposed to be rather than a storage place for other people’s things, then they turned the broadcast room into a comfortable conference room, and later they tackled the library, bringing much of it to order.


Father Moses expressed our worst fears, for our beautiful cat has not been seen for several days.  We are afraid that perhaps the cougars caught it and, if not, then the coyotes.  It would probably be the former, since she has lived near the coyotes all her life and easily survived.  Out of a litter of five kittens, one is still alive in Port Coquitlam, another in Edmonton, the third one disappeared in the second year of her life, while the fourth, who was half Manx, died last year.  Now we are left with no animals of our own and it feels sad.  On the other hand, the bears will be coming out of their dens soon and we can once again show visitors the paths along which the bears meander.


It has been another bright and sunny day with our spirits held high by this lovely temperature.  There were almost as many people present for the Liturgy today as there were on Wednesday with some bringing [healthy and nutritious] treats for Vladika.  I have been driving him to the local Care Clinic daily where he is tended to.  Gerasimos was here for the service, looking and sounding great after his stroke.  May he be with us for many years.


Davey showed us the photos he took of the cougars in the chicken coop killing chickens.  In one photo one can see only bones and feathers scattered about….poor chickens, but a good snack for the cougars! The cougars were driven away with hound dogs, so they might possibly stay away.  At any rate, we are being very careful, especially when we are outdoors when it is dark.  I still chuckle at the comment made by one person who said that she was not afraid of the cougars because she is not a chicken. Davey and Chris helped to reorganize our kitchen so that it can become a communication centre of sorts since Vladika cannot run back and forth to the printing shop where everything had been located in the past.


After several disappointments we at last got  to see Vladika Lazar back at the monastery where he is reclining in his special chair at this very moment while I compose today’s diary entry.  This chair  can be used in various positions, and one can even sleep on it.  We had a thoroughly good Liturgy tonight with a large number of people attending it.  Davey took photographs of the cougars trying to kill their chickens and, if we get these pictures, we shall try to post them.  When I warned the people about the cougars, one woman exclaimed, “I am not afraid, for I am not a chicken!”


We were in for more suprises today when Vladika informed us that the doctor decided, at the last minute, that he should remain in hospital a bit longer. So, let us hope and pray that he can return soon and be in good enough health to be out of the care of the hospital.  Our dear old octogenarians arrived shortly after noon with baskets full of food—soup, salads, and countless pirozhki—which is how they show their hospitality.  Soon after they left, Archbishop Irinee arrived with Deacon Nicholas and they visited us for some time while seated at the table and enjoying the piroshki.


Thomas and I had a nice drive in the sunshine to visit Vladika Lazar.  In fact it became so warm that we opened the windows to allow the fresh and fragrant air into the vehicle.  Although Vladika Irinee’s plane had arrived from Whitehorse in the Yukon, the Deacon’s plane was delayed until ten thirty, so they would be spending the night in Vancouver and coming to see us tomorrow.  Because of the cougar scare, Father Moses and Thomas walked me back to my cottage, during which time we could hear an owl hooting on the other side of the building.  The sound was haunting and I can understand why it can frighten some people.


When I awoke, I could smell smoke from the fire in the hall and I knew that Misha had already arrived, which he did about five thirty in the morning.  He did complain that not enough heat was given off by the wood as it was still somewhat damp.  We had an enjoyable singing rehearsal in the afternoon in the reception room where the old piano is located.  I think that the singing for the Pascal service is going to be good.  We were under the impression that Vladika Irinee was to arrive later in the evening so we sat up until quite late but no one arrived, no doubt plans having been changed.  Father Moses and Thomas accompanied me to my cottage because Davey warned us that he had seen three large cougars in his yard and he does not live very far from us.  In the future we shall have to be careful.


Sorin and Doru spent considerable time this morning installing two long baseboard heaters in the new church so that we would not have to continue relying on individual heaters to provide heat.  Of course the days area getting warmer and in about three months we shall be complaining about the church being too hot.  I baked a prosphora for tomorrow’s Liturgy using new yeast and, although the loaf looks good, I worry about the interior and if it has been baked through  Well, we shall find out tomorrow.


Yesterday’s rain turned to bright sunshine this morning with a clear sky and the occasional fluffy cloud drifting by.  It finally felt like spring even though there was constant noise nearby with Andy and his friends sawing branches and working near the barn.  That entire area looks terrible, as many of the broken branches were taken there and now it looks a war zone, but I am sure that it eventually will be brought to order.  We did not even bother to turn on any heat for the evening Liturgy and I think that we all felt comfortable.  Sorin and his friend Doru are going to install a couple of wallboard heaters to replace the mobile ones that we have been using.


The entry for each day of the diary is written in the evening, sometimes very late, but today I am doing this in the afternoon, as I have an announcement to make.  A number of people have been asking for a blessing to begin what could be called group praying.  This is especially common in Russia where hundreds of thousands of people will pray at a certain time each week for the health of the ill, for the memory of the reposed, etc.  Each person will read the exact same prayers so that in unity all can join forces for the health and salvation of all.  If you are interested please send your email to Katia at molitva.vancouver@gmail.com who will coordinate everything that is to be emailed to each person.  So far only Russian and English will be used, so please state your preference. Vladika Lazar has given his blessing for it to be under the direction of the Monastery of all Saints, so I am sure that it will be a God pleasing endeavour.


We were upset that Vladika Lazar was transferred to the Royal Columbian Hospital this morning, yet pleased that they would give him the care that he needs.  The problem stems from being released too early and perhaps now he can heal properly.  Quite a few people came for the Presanctified Liturgy tonight and the singing was very good.  On the other hand, it was difficult for me to serve, still it was a joy to be together with our dear friends for this special Liturgy.


Vladika’s first night at home was peaceful but when the nurse arrived in the morning, she said that he was too weak to be here and that we should call an ambulance to have him transported to a hospital.  We did this and a few hours later Father Moses and I visited him to find that he was being looked after and he had been given pain relievers, although the main doctor had not yet seen him.  It seems that they would like to deal with his pain management and his proper nutrition before releasing him. It was eye opening to see the emergency area crowded with patients who had been in serious accidents, hallucinating drug addicts, others dying, with nurses and paramedics rushing around to tend to the needy.  I appreciate their dedication to the needs of these suffering patients, and a few minutes of being in such a situation should rid us of any self pity we might have and open our hearts to the suffering of others.


For more than half a day we waited to be told of Vladika’s release from the hospital. There are so many people to thank for their constant visits during which they brought him nourishing food, gave him massages and helped him to walk with the assistance of a walker. We finally brought him back in the late afternoon, exhausted but thrilled to be back at the monastery. Home Care sent out a nurse to check on Vladika and in the future there will be two visits from nurses, one at ten in the morning and the other at seven in the evening. It is reassuring for us to know that their visits will be of great assistance.


The characteristic and pleasant scent of burning wood greeted my nostrils this morning as I stepped outside, and I knew that Misha has already arrived and started a fire in the hall. It takes a couple of hours to heat the entire hall, but once heated, it remains warm for a long time.  The voices at the kliros were strong and most agreeable.  If I am not mistaken, the entire service lasted more than four hours, as we served the Liturgy of Saint Basil which is longer than the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom.


For over a month I had been searching for the battery charger for the cordless vacuum cleaner and it is nowhere to be found. While in town I dropped into our local London Drug Store [a favourite of mine] and, lo and behold, there was a new type of cordless vacuum on sale.  The words “on sale” always catch my attention, so I bought one. Now that the battery had been charged, the carpets can be cleaned properly. Perhaps that was my excitement for the day! We are looking forward to Vladika’s return on Monday and we pray that it will be the beginning of the healing process that will bring him back to full health.  I took Father Moses for a short ride on this sunny day and, looking at the mountains partially covered with fresh snow, he exclaimed,  “Who needs Switzerland when we have all this wonderful scenery around us!” Of course he was correct and we often have to remind ourselves of the beauty of our own paradise here on earth.


Tonight’s Liturgy was touching with very good singing, although I had difficulty in walking without a cane, yet Doru came up to the solea to help me keep my balance.  It is a great pity that many people have never attended a single Presanctified Liturgy, while others claim that it is their favourite one.  It was a personal triumph that I could bring order to my desk, so that it actually looks like a desk that can be used rather than a place to store material. I shall try to do the same with the rest of the cottage in anticipation of Vladika Lazar’s return.    


I was reminded that in three weeks winter will officially be over and spring will step in.  Aside from the terrible ice storm we experienced last month, I wonder where winter went and how quickly is passed by.  Thomas drove me to the eye specialist for my yearly examination [all is well], then we went to the Red Cross to return some things that had been borrowed by Vladika.  Andy was inspired by the mild weather and he spent the entire day gathering broken branches and preparing them to be chipped.  What a delight it was to hear from Stavroula, calling from Virginia, to let us know that she was resting from her trip.  We miss her and perhaps we shall see her and the rest of the family later in the year.


The local Red Cross Society had lent some things for Vladika to use while he was in the process of purchasing them for himself.  Today I bought a walker for him, so that we can return everything tomorrow.   It was kind of them to provide these objects and now they can be used by someone else who is in need of them.  I was surprised at the number of people who came for the Presanctified Liturgy tonight and the singing was very good.  A Georgian family came tonight with their recently arrived daughter and son in law, both of whom are medical doctors, and their cut little daughter, Anastasia.