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Daily Diary header - Orthodox Canada
Daily Life at the Monastery
A daily "diary" by one of the monks of the monastery

The eye specialist I visited today is excellent and I have been going to him for at least twenty years if not more. I greeted him in Arabic with "Christ is Risen" and he looked somewhat bewildered, but then suddenly understood what I had said. He then told me what it is in Coptic, as he is a Copt from Egypt. Gerry and Andrew came to cut the grass on the main lawn, as it has been too wet lately to get out the tractor mower. All the rainy weather that we have been having and also the higher temperature have made the grass grow very quickly. If we do not get to the other lawns soon, we shall have hay instead of grass. It makes it convenient to have two churches under one roof, as we have here at the monastery. Today, for example, we had a memorial service in the Church of the Holy Relics, leaving the other church free for other purposes.

A large shipment of candles arrived today, much to our relief, as we had no idea that so many candles would be used during Holy Week and Pascha. I felt somewhat uncomfortable at the Post Office, for the boxes were much too heavy for me but the Post Mistress, a slight young but athletic woman, carried them to the vehicle. I was most apologetic but she replied that she was accustomed to carrying heavy bales of hay for her horses. A new entry was added to YOU ASKED so you can read it if you are interested.

Even though we had celebrated the commemoration of the departed last Sunday, knowing that few people would be able to come today, there still were a number of people who came today. In addition, plans for baptizing three babies were made for May and June, something that always pleases us as more Orthodox Christians enter into this world where so many sectarians are on the prowl, looking to lead innocents astray. After years of neglect, the candle factory was visited once again and a longing came over me to once more take up candle making. Of course I no longer have that former energy, but I did string up about 180 wicks for small candles and I do mean small. Many years ago I made small candles that were advertised in a Vancouver upscale magazine to use as birthday candles. They were quite popular but expensive, as they were all hand dipped. We shall see if anything comes of this effort.

Andy often picks up the week's garbage early on Monday mornings, sometimes before we have even bagged it all, so there was a rush this morning to have it ready. But, he did not show up, so it is still lying in the corridor. He has his mind filled with plans and ideas for using the barn and some of the pasture for various projects and let us hope that they succeed. Visitors dropped in all day and one in particular, wishes to convert to Orthodoxy, so let us pray for him. Downtown Mission has decked itself in a multitude of colours, as it does every spring. Just as one is overwhelmed by the beauty of some yard, the next one pops up before one's very eyes and again there are sighs of the delight in the beauty of spring.

We celebrated Thomas Sunday today and, of course, this is the nameday of our Thomas, so we all sang "Many Years" for him at the end of the Liturgy. We then served an abbreviated memorial service which is usually held on the following Tuesday but, because it is a working day, we served it today. Unfortunately, many churches have abandoned this service completely and it reminds me of what we were told in the mid 1990s. In Detroit, in the early 1980s, up to 10,000 people would gather at the main cemetery where most Orthodox Christians were buried, but a decade later no more than 500 showed up. Who even knows what the number might be today. We were thrilled to see Xenia and Ion who have just arrived from Romania to visit their son Igor, daughter-in-law Galina and their children and who saw their grandson Nikita for the first time. Elia showed us pictures of Gigla, his wife and new born baby who are in Georgia.

I became suspicious when I saw vehicles and people milling about the barn and, when a large moving van appeared I really wondered what was happening. It appears that Andy, once again, would like to begin raising chickens, not for meat, but for their eggs. He did this a couple of years ago and we were supplied with organic eggs from free range chickens, if that is the correct expression. There were even some extra that could be sold and when people saw the eggs, besmirched with manure, they knew that the eggs were what they were supposed to be and not of the commercial type. We shall see how his plan develops. The Holy Well has been blessed as was the Artos at the service tonight and which will be passed out at the end of the Liturgy tomorrow.

It could not have been any more beautiful today with the sun shining and a warm breeze greeting us, the ingredients for a perfect day. I wanted a drive through the countryside to enjoy all of this and, indeed, my wish came true. Later it was back to our daily reality with all the tasks that have to be done. We visited Mike in the rehabilitation centre where he is being given a series of physical exercises that should strengthen his coordination and his physical health in general. He and Glyko want to thank everyone for their prayers, saying how much it means to them. Someone came this afternoon to weed the little Celtic garden and to plant some flowers there.

When will it ever end? More rain fell today, although tomorrow is supposed to be sunny. I looked at the long range forecast and rain is predicted for the next ten days, and probably more. I think that we tidied and cleaned every nook and cranny after the festive weekend, and now we can plan for more this weekend. After making omelets, two eggs were left over and Father Moses put them in a container with hard boiled eggs. When I decided to use the boiled eggs for an egg salad, I began removing the shells, until I got to the third egg. Upon hitting it on the table top it spattered, giving me a big surprise.

We were pleased to hear that Mike has been transferred from the hospital to a facility where he can have physiotherapy which should help him immensely. But, keep praying for his health. I had the first of two appointments with my eye specialist, a very kind Coptic man who treats us with great consideration. Later in the afternoon, we set out for the Vancouver International Airport for Father Vasili's flight to Florida. His visit with us was too brief, but most enjoyable. On the way, we stopped to pick up the two icons that Yana had painted for us, that of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Basil the Great. They are copies of two famous Russian icons that had been painted a few centuries ago in a purely canonical style.

All about us in this beautiful valley the shrubs and trees are breaking out in various colours, in spite of the nasty weather that we have been having. Shades of pink, rose, white and red are to be seen everywhere, yet the full force of the spring extravaganza of colours is yet to come. On the other hand, the telephone does not seem to cease ringing with people wishing to convey their Paschal greetings. Today is the last day of Father Vasili's visit which has been much too short in our opinion, a visit that we thoroughly enjoyed. Andy attacked the huge maple tree that had been cut down some time ago, so we should have plenty of wood for next winter. The wood shed had suffered during the last storm because of the ice and snow, but it has been restored and even improved.

We had hoped that today could be a day of rest, but it was not to be. Before we could hang all the vestments and bring order to the altar, people began to arrive. We served a memorial for one who had recently reposed and others, whom we had not seen for years, suddenly showed up. Today's danger was the possibility of eating too much of the rich paschal food that we were given and I am not certain that I did too well at that. We did take Father Vasili for a drive to the neighbouring town so he could see the countryside. Later, our dear Svetlana telephoned from Volgograd to greet us with this joyous feast and to tell us how she spent this glorious weekend.

What a joyous day this has been. We began gathering late Saturday evening and by the time I entered the church, people were waiting to have confession. Soon, the reading of the Book of Acts in several languages ceased and the church became completely dark. Vladika Lazar came out with a lit candle from which the flame was taken and passed to everyone, thus beginning the Cross Procession, There was no rain, so we peacefully began the procession to beyond the gatehouse chapel, through which we returned but we had to stop for a while, as the road was conjested with those in the procession. The Paschal Matins service began with the tropar being sung in several languages, first in English, then in Greek, followed by Romanian, then Russian, and ending with Georgian. The church was crammed with people spilling out into the balcony and even downstairs. It was difficult to tell how people there were, but it was somewhere between 150 and 200 people. Those who had travelled the farthest had come all the way from Prince George, Kamloops and Kelowna, B.C., even farther than our Seattle folks. While the people came up for a blessing, the baskets were blessed downstairs, and the breaking of the fast began. Although many people took their baskets home to break the fast, at least half of them stayed on for the monastery meal. We managed to get to bed very late, after five o'clock in the morning and by nine we had to be up again, as people began arriving to have their baskets blessed. There were many people with little children who were not able to come for the night service, and there must have have at least 75 who came over a two hour period alone. By four o'clock a few arrived for the Paschal Vespers service and again a meal. The total visitors for the day was around 125. Naturally we were physically exhausted but spiritually rejoicing. By eight o'clock everyone had left and we could sit over a cup of tea and recall the highlights of the day. May we ever have more such joyous feast days.

Our morning Liturgy was remarkable in that we had some Georgian men present who made all the responses in Georgian. This added much to the entire service and those who were present thanked the men for their participation. The rest of the day was spent in last minute preparations, such as locating some of the vestments that had vanished, which they did not, of course, but simply had been misplaced; yet that was frustrating. Then the special candles had to be dealt with, a simple enough task, but this time it had to be complicated. All in all, everything was ready and we all had to rest for the long service. Misha arrived at four o'clock and others a bit later to arrange tables for the baskets and so on. Finally, it was time to go to the church and vest, for the church was already half full of people. What happened then will appear in Sunday's daily diary.

Several women came this morning to decorate the tomb which they accomplished after about four hours of labour. There were flowers of various colours and types that were made into garlands to wind around the pillars and the top of the tomb. Each flower was cut off from the stem and sewn into a garland. The rest of the day was spent in preparing for tonight's service which allowed us to have an outdoor procession without rain, yes, without rain. The sturdy Georgian lads were of great help during the service. Anastasia outdid herself with the two large floral arrangements that she prepared for tomorrow, all in white against a green background which will be placed against the iconostas.

Father Vasily arrived from Florida to join us in the Holy Week services and for Holy Pascha. It has been over a year since we last saw him and it was joyous to be reunited. The weather was strange, with sun changing to showers, sun again, then downpours and so forth. The evening service began with rain and, when we heard about the world shaking and groaning at Christ's crucifixion, there was such a downpour that it was difficult to hear the reading, and one's heart was almost seized with fright. Others mentioned that it was fitting for this reading and they, too, felt the intensity of the moment.

I thought that all was ready for the rest of the week, only to discover that a number of things had been forgotten. At any rate, there is still time enough to complete everything. Nick came to finish the grouting of the tiles that he had put up recently. We expected a few people to show up for the Anointing Service, but to our amazement, the church was almost crowded. It was a touching service with readings in various languages, reflecting our multinational assembly of worshippers. We also welcomed Peter to the faith and our monastery.

We made a hospital visit to see Michael who was in emergency, then put into a corridor to await a free bed. Although the hospital is new, it already cannot cope with the number of patients in addition to the shortage of staff. Pleas made to the provincial government were in vain.We hope that he will recover soon and be allowed to return home. We also hope for a speedy recovery for Mama Maria. Thomas cleaned the entire altar while Father Moses polished the censer with salt and lemon juice, the ancient method of cleaning metallic objects. Tonight we served the last of the Bridegroom Services during which Vladika Lazar gave an outstanding sermon that I filmed, so it should be available soon. For supper we ate stinging nettle soup which might sound drastic, but which is actually very tasty and nutritious. The nettles grow directly behind the monastery in the rich soil.

A very early morning call from Florida brought us joy, for it was Father Vasily who informed us that he will be arriving here on Thursday to be with us for Holy Pascha. It has been some time since we last had him with us, so it will be a joy and a help for us to have him with us for the feast. People are becoming somewhat agitated because they want to do so many things before Pascha, yet also excited with the approach of the Feast of Feasts as it is often called. We also are saddened to learn that Michael, Maria and some others are in hospital or else seriously ill. Please pray for them. In tonight's Bridegroom Service, I happened to read the psalm that must be the very longest one in the entire Psalter, and we took turns in reading which brought others into the service.

The day began with an early power outage which was not resolved until part way through Matins. You can imagine the relief we felt on this feast day to having the power returned for the Liturgy. The church was crammed and we ran out of palms, so about a third of the people were without them, although someone did bring a bundle of pussy willows that proved to be popular. The hall, the refectory and the kitchen table were crowded with people occupying every single seat, corner and cranny. Some stayed on all afternoon until the Bridegroom Service in the evening, making it a very long day for us. As soon as this entry is sent off, I shall quickly prepare for bedtime, hoping to have a sound rest and sleep.

Despite the drizzling rain that continued throughout much of the day, many volunteers showed up as a work party. While the women stayed indoors, cleaning and preparing food for the workers, and also cleaning out the two refrigerators in the kitchen so that they were almost empty after the thorough cleaning, the men tackled an assortment of outdoor tasks. The once beautiful flowering cherry tree had long ago seen its best days and was slowly dying, so much of it was brought down. A large area behind the main building was cleared of branches and especially the nasty blackberry vines that spread everywhere. After Vespers and the blessing of the loaves, we had a lenten supper at which everyone could relax, recount the day's activities, and carry on a lively conversation about spiritual matters.

It is the feast of the Annunciation today and we celebrated it in the old church or, as we also call it, the Church of the Holy relics. Since it is a working day, we did not expect many people to come but, to our delight, quite a few people came with about half a dozen children in tow. There were almost as many standing at the kliros as on a typical Sunday. There followed a lenten meal which was enjoyed by all. After everyone left, Father Moses noticed that someone had arrived and, to our great surprise, it was a group of Russian Orthodox Old Ritualists from the Vancouver area with Father Nikita and his family from Oregon. We had promised them a relic of Metropolitan Makary of Kiev, who died in 1496, a part of the large collection of relics that Metropolitan Theodosius had presented to us some years ago. After visiting over tea, we went to the church where, after prayers, the relic was presented to Father Nikita, then followed a moleben and a canon, all of which was solemn and prayerful. It was edifying to see what reverence the Old Ritualists had for the relic, because for them it was like a feast of the transferral of relics, whereas so many of our Orthodox people lack this deep reverence for holy things.

Need I say more about the weather? No, you can easily arrive at the answer. The poor cherry trees are struggling so hard to open their buds, but with not much success. Prosphoras were baked for tomorrow's liturgy and for Sunday as well. Yesterday's lenten soup was extended so that there would be enough for supper today. Many are looking forward to tomorrow's feast and the taste of fish which is allowed on the feast. Yana informed us that the two icons, one of Saint Basil and the other of Saint John Chrysostom are ready to be picked up. They are for the Royal Gates which usually have the Annunciation icon at the top and the four Evangelists at the bottom, but it is also traditional to have these two Holy Hierarchs instead. It will be after Pascha when we will be able to pick them up.

Sasha had painted the monastery gates yesterday, the colour matching that of the gatehouse but yesterday's rain got to the paint before it had completely dried. Even so, they look so much better and, if necessary, a second coat can be applied later on. I had no idea that it would take me so long to get the vestments ready for Pascha and yet it has been a splendid experience working with them. We served our last Presanctified Liturgy today, as on Friday we will celebrate the feast of the Annunciation with just the one liturgy.

The silver and white vestments to be used at Pascha were examined, some washed, others adjusted, something that perhaps should have been done a few weeks ago. There is still more to be done, but we shall finish in good time. Our monastery road is in good condition, at least for the time being, and we shall have to think seriously, as soon as the rainy spell ends, about mowing the lawns. Some visitors today were intrigued by the perky little squirrel that seemed to put on a sprightly dance for them.

Now this is what I call spring with flowers popping up , shrubs showing off their bright flowers, and trees, such as the magnolias are showing their beauty. The air is warm and fragrant and this should last for a couple of days at least. In general I like Mondays because they are mainly a day of rest and recuperation after a hectic weekend. This morning had begun with a three hour blackout but, because we have become so used to it, we simply waited until our lights came on again. Our lawn tractor was tested over the weekend and it seems to be performing well, except for the problem that arose last year when someone was too rough with it, and now it cannot back up. If it proves to be too much of a difficulty we shall have to send it off to the mechanics' hospital.

We had it all today:sun, drizzle, rain, downpour, and hail. Some even claimed to have seen snow, but I think its was just the hail. In other words, more of the same! We had more than usual people at Matins and the sight of more than half a dozen men, all in black, standing at the kliros, was touching [not just standing, of course, but also singing]. Reader Irinaeus gave the sermon which was well received. A memorial was served at the end of the Liturgy for all who had given up their lives in the Greek war of independence and, naturally, a large group of Greeks was present. The three young servers sometimes get a bit rambunctious, but their behavior today was exemplary and that is when they look so angelic.

Yes, it has been April Fool's Day, even though I did not attempt to "pull a fast one" on anyone. It used to be fun as a child, but old age has its own agendas. Another work party came out today and I would say that a lot was accomplished. The entire area behind the counter where tea and coffee are prepared on Sundays was finished off with beautiful tiling, the roof over the piled wood was straightened after it partially collapsed when we had the heavy snowfall, cleaning was done and much more. After Vespers, most stayed to have a lenten supper, so I can truly say that it has been a positive day, with much done, and we are grateful for all this volunteer enthusiasm.

The work party that came out today spent a few hours working outside as it was sunny today and rain is forecast for tomorrow. They painted the gatehouse chapel and, although I have not yet gone to examine their work, they were very satisfied with the colour, so I am certain that they must have done well. The Celtic garden was revived and more wood was chopped, even though we soon will no longer be using the stove on Sundays. I was satisfied that all the books, etc that had accumulated over the years have finally been brought into order in the vestry so that we should not have anymore difficulty in finding material needed for the various services.

Yes, we had sun the entire day and all the gardening enthusiasts were out in full force, including me. The day began, though, with the pleasant singing of a wren [Russian--krapivnik; Romanian--pitulice] and the cooing of a dove that has been visiting us for a week or so. Then I went to my little herb garden where I weeded the chocolate mint, oregano and the lovage [Russian--liubistok; Romanian--leus(h)tean] and it gave me great joy to get my hands in the rich soil. This time spent in the garden provided me with such enjoyment that I could scarcely leave. The boys were out, filling the potholes in the road, making it much easier to drive.

Aside from the weather, it has been a most interesting and rewarding day. Thanks to Stavroula from Virginia, we have enough nourishing nuts to last us up to Pentecost and enough pure soap for the entire year. Vladika Lazar had some bone replacement work done toady which meant that he could not serve the Presanctified Liturgy so I did instead, even though I have not served it for at least three years. Another car had to be blessed and there were a number of request for prayers for health and well being.

It has been another day of no sun, but plenty of---no, I will not use that word, although it does rhyme with Spain]. An announcement was put out about the work party on Saturday and several people telephoned to ask about it, some not being able to come that day and wondering if they do it on Friday instead. A cute squirrel has been running about outside the study window and our only concern is that the cats love to hunt squirrels and chipmunks, so we shall have to let nature take care of it. I purchased eigth mouse traps and set six of them in places where mice have left their calling cards with the hope that this problem will soon be cleared up.

It was an unusual day, since I had to bless two cars, one for Sasha and one for Thomas, the latter having bought a bright yellow car from Davey. The prayers took place out of the rain, then a quick blessing followed in the gentle rain itself. Sasha was surprised to find a nest of mice in the trunk of his car. They have been such pests lately, as if trying to find refuge from the rain. We shall have to put up the Constant Contact concerning this Saturday's work party, at which a number of people should appear. It seems that there is never any end to all the cleaning that must be done.

As soon as I stepped outside, I noticed the fragrant smell of burning wood, and that meant that Misha had the fire going again. He thinks that we will need it for a couple of more Sundays, but with weather like this, it might be needed much longer. For the first time, a full Matins service was done in Slavonic and, in all honesty, it sounded splendid, for some of the singers had been practising. The church was packed and dozens of people came up for confession. Vera arrived from Seattle with three large lenten tortes and others came from Vancouver Island. We had a singing rehearsal in preparation for Pascha and I think that the singing at the feast it will be just fine. By six thirty everyone had left and we remained to enjoy some quiet and rest, and also to relive the highlights of the day

It poured today---not rain but people. There was scarcely a free moment the entire day, as one group after another came to the monastery. Our young Nicholas got a new bright red Mustang and he came to get it blessed. Another car that was supposed to be blessed did not show up, but probably it will be done before too long. Andy did his best to grade our monastery road and it has improved, although it is far from perfect. We were treated to a superb lenten supper by a group of ladies who served supper after Vespers. The days are becoming noticeably longer and, in just three months, they will begin to shorten again. Such is life!

The grinding sound of the wood chipper is getting on my nerves, still it is good to know that the countless branches that were left lying everywhere after last month's storms are finally being disposed of. In truth, several more days could be spent on this, but first the branches have to be collected. It was interesting to watch our work party patching up the potholes on the monastery road. Daniel, Seraphim, Judith and little Olga scurried about with shovels and wheelbarrow, filling the potholes and packing them down. In the end, I think that Judith outlasted the men. Someone recently said that if they could win a huge lottery, they would pave the road, but we can guess what the chance of that is. Without any exaggeration, Monica and I bumped into each other in one of the narrow aisles of the greengrocery. Both of us had gone there to buy some organic produce. If you are interest in knowing what I had purchased, I found a nice piece of ginger, a piece of tumeric the size of my little finger, some fresh dill and peppermint, and a jar of ajvar, a spread made of sweet Balkan peppers. We were pleased to hear that Andrew is home again after a successful operation and, being young, he will quickly recuperate, but do remember him in your prayers.

The heat of the sun brought out at least two dozen ladybirds [also known as ladybugs], enabling them to crawl up the south wall, the glass doors and the ceiling of my sitting room. Where could they have been hiding all this while? You might want to look at the latest YOU ASKED which concerns symbolism of colours in icons. It should be up in a day or two. Speaking of icons, we do not encourage anyone to donate icons to the monastery unless they are "canonical". Some icons have not been acceptable, as they are simply religious pictures or even almost caricatures of saints. Many people cannot be blamed, for they have never been taught the basic fundamentals of iconography and, instead, they select icons that are western, Latin, or just sentimental. By the way, Synaxis Press here at the monastery has an excellent book "Icon As Scripture" which should be read by all serious Orthodox Christians.

Just a few feet away from my door I have a Sappho rhododendron and a hydrangea, but the nearby azalea is usually overlooked, yet there it was exhibiting its beautiful pink to all who would look in its direction. And, two of the camellias, one a pale pink and the other a pale rose, have added more colour to the grounds. Alas, though, the rain continues, even if it is usually gentle or a light shower. For much of the day I could hear the wood chipper grinding away at the branches that Andy kept feeding it. The April schedule of services is ready and should be put up tomorrow at the latest. I often feel that few bother to look at it, yet I am oft-times surprised by people who refer to this schedule.

What a quiet day it has been with no one coming here, except for Andy who picked the garbage. Well, there are days like that, on the other hand the telephone has not stopped ringing, which is why Vladika Lazar will sometimes go "into hiding" so that he can write in peace and without interruption. An elderly man with a tobacco stained beard cornered me downtown and told me his whole history, making me feel uncomfortable at first, but then I realized that he had to speak to someone and we later parted, having wished each other good health. Such pleasant surprises are definitely uplifting, although later I saw a young man screaming, thrashing about and kicking at everything around him. No doubt he was on some drugs and it is a real tragedy that a young person has come to such a state.

Not a drop of rain, much to our delight. Daniel rolled up his sleeves and scrubbed the kitchen, its floor and counters and, although the odour of bleach remained for a while, it was welcome, knowing why it was used. Thomas toiled most of the day outdoors, raking up branches and bringing the lawns into some sort of order. We were thrilled to receive two copies of the Patriarchal Calendar yesterday, as it is possibly the most authoritative calendar available. This year we were sent three different church calendars with all the necessary rubrics, one from Moscow, another from Saint Petersburg and the third from Riga.

By mid evening yesterday we once again lost our power and thus we remained in darkness until three in the morning which did not exactly help us with sleep. We still do not know the cause of this outage but, as you already know, we get them fairly regularly. Today's feast of the Veneration of the Holy Cross was splendid and inspiring. Alexander Ovodov was present to film much of the service, so it might be available to our readers. The sun shone brightly during the day and Misha thinks that we shall have to fire up the stove in the hall only a couple of more times, and I hope that he is right.

We have not had any baptisms for a while, but today we baptized five month old Vera who behaved superbly, not crying even once. It was also the first baptism in the newly renovated chapel of the Holy Relics. The only problem we have with two churches is that some of the books end up in the wrong place but, since they are under one roof, it is not difficult to hurry over to the other church to retrieve the necessary material. Our supply of baptismal crosses has almost dried up and we shall have to reorder more. It was comforting to know that all the people who came for the baptism wore crosses except for one man who quickly purchased one of the remaining crosses, had it blessed, then put it on quickly.

When I stopped at the service station this morning, I wondered why the man behind the counter was wearing an odd looking green hat, and it took a moment for me to realize that it must be Saint Patrick's day when it is customary to wear something green. All that most people know is that he was Irish and nothing else. At the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts we had a visitor from Montreal who told us of the horrors that the snow storm has brought upon the city, and how, by comparison, we are living in paradise here. It was a realization on my part of how much we complain about our weather here, when others are experiencing much worse.

Thomas did most of the necessary pruning, first the hydrangea that blooms so profusely near the Celtic garden, then the Magellan fuchsia and finally the mahonia, and a Japanese evergreen. And it was only today that I found out how to prune the beautiful lily of the valley bush. We have Canada geese everywhere for the entire year, but the Arctic swans [perhaps trumpeter swans] are here only at this time. They both fly gracefully, although their songs are not melodious. Natasha gave us a photo album so that people could bring photos they have taken and will be taking here at the monastery, as kind of a record of life here. This should prove to be interesting and, if you do provide any photos, please write the month and year on the back for future reference.

I made a trip to the hospital for a procedure, the last one let us hope. By evening I felt quite tired and had to sit through most of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at which more people were present than I could have anticipated. Some women had come bearing jars and bags of food to restore my health. That was most kind of them and I asked Thomas to carry it all over to my place. I was actually thrilled to hear the twittering of countless small birds that had made a sudden appearance. Although their singing is not so melodious as that of wrens or nightingales, they do emit a bright and clear chirp that can gladden any heart. Our dear friend George had left us many books from his immense library, but his dream of having a book lending library could not be realized. Instead, we have allowed people to take many of the literary works [the theological and historical ones we kept for our own library] asking them to pass these books on to others who would be interested and, in this way, we can have a permanent library exchange.

It actually stopped raining for about an hour today, but it will continue for the rest of the week. While in town this morning to pick up some provisions, I had a pleasant visit with Deacon Phillip. Galina and Uzgur dropped by in the evening, bringing me flowers and a week's supply of oranges. They both have become realtors in addition to having their own business, but they are young and have much energy. Svetlana telephoned minutes ago from Volgograd with medical advice that I appreciated. And so the day has ended on a positive note.

There is little that I can say today, other than spending most of the time resting and reading. People continue to call to find out how I am coping and I thank everyone for their concern. And, yes, I am eating well, especially the food that our dear women had prepared for me. It is interesting to note that many of our visitors ask us if the bears have yet appeared. No one has seen any, so perhaps they are still hibernating, although they should be up and wandering about before too long.

This happened to be one of the two days in the year when people forget to change their clocks and today many came late, although I was surprised how many did come. We have had a visitor from Germany, Christian Rapp, a political scientist who is giving a presentation tomorrow at Simon Fraser University. Not only was the visit pleasant, but it also gave us the chance to brush up on our German. Because of my physical condition, I came to the Liturgy fairly late and I should have rested in the afternoon, but I could not stay away from all those who had gathered in the hall and the refectory. The presence of two doctors and one nurse gave me a great deal of comfort and their sound advice was well received by me.

Many thanks for all the telephone calls and emails that I received about my visit to the hospital yesterday. I am getting on well and, although I will only attend the last half of the Liturgy tomorrow, my spirits are up and I am ready to "roll on" as they say. It is a pleasure to have Christian visiting us from Germany and we regret that he cannot stay longer with us, because he will be delivering a lecture at Simon Fraser University. I am required to rest , much of it in bed, something that I cannot abide, for I like to be as active as I can.

FRIDAY 10 March 2017
Bishop Varlaam was released from hospital today at 5:30, following recovery from a lengthy operation. He will be semi-bedridden for about a week. We will keep you posted on his progress. He will likely not be able to be in church this coming Sunday, we should be there for the following on. No too much occurred here today. We prepared for pilgrims from Germany, who should arrive tomorrow.

It has been a wet and soggy day, and everyone seems to have succumbed to this dreariness. Father Moses and Daniel brought a different mattress for my cot and I am not certain that it is any better than the old one. This first night will let me know how the possible dips and bulges it has will affect me. What a joy it was to have the Jeep back from the repair shop, as we felt lost without it. Tomorrow I shall have to report at the hospital for some surgery which, let us hope, will not be serious. At any rate, I shall be recovering for a while, although I hope not to miss any entries of this diary, even though Father Moses volunteered to do it for me, which was very kind of him.

Not wishing to bother you with a list of my aches and pains, I will simply say that another trip was made to Maple Ridge today to see an orthopaedic specialist who felt that I was in good condition and could carry on for some time. What was nice in this situation is that my family doctor referred me to this specialist who examined me, and there was no charge or fee, as this is part of our medical programme. In other countries I would have had to possess a good health insurance policy or else paid heavily for it, but this is good old Canada. This also meant a side trip to the bindery to pick up material that we had left at least a month ago. Provincial volunteers have planted several dozen saplings around the culvert both to stabilize it and to provide some shade for the fish.

I had an appointment with a podiatrist in nearby Maple Ridge and, not wishing to drive there alone, I took Father Moses along, as he is seldom away from the monastery. All the while we were there, snow fell heavily, even as we stopped at the local library which is huge and well appointed. On our return trip we saw less and less of the snow and none of it at home. Something must be happening, because it should be the other way around. We often hear people speak about those who have died and then returned to life, or about near death experiences. Vladika Lazar showed me an excellent response to this by Saint John Chrysostom, one which I should put up on YOU ASKED. If his words do not reach such people, then nothing will. Alas, too often people would rather heed the words of "old grannies" or unbalanced people than the divinely inspired words of our great teachers of Orthodoxy.

I pruned a small hydrangea and started on the large one, but had to give up as it began to snow. Even though it did not last long, my hands were cold and I gave up. Also, the Magellan Fuchsia proved to be too much of an effort, especially since I had to stand on a slanted bed of round stones. Meanwhile, I did notice the appearance of the blue periwinkles, always a joyous harbinger of spring. Father Moses is in contact with many people and he told me that David, who recently moved to Capital Hill, and Father Vasili in Florida never miss an entry of this diary. I am glad to hear that someone reads it. Oh yes, Galina told us today that she always turns to it as well. She has been honoured with an award as the foremost contributor to poetry in the Russian language in Canada, and more of her poetry will appear on our Russian site.

There was a different surprise today, for many people were hesitant to drive to the monastery because of all the snow in Vancouver and its suburbs. Those who decided to brave the snow found nothing here in this part of the valley. What little snow we did get quickly melted and eventually the sun came out. This is what happens with our micro climates here in the Fraser Valley. There were quite a few Georgians present and one of them has shown interest in singing at the kliros, and I think that his deep baritone voice will add much to the singing. After the Agape meal, several of us went to the reception room to use the piano in helping us with rehearsing for Pascha and also for the Slavonic Matins.

It was amazing to have an entire day of bright sunshine, yet we have been warned that some snow is still possible in a couple of days. Some last minute preparations were needed, such as bringing out more covers that are used in lenten periods and just plain cleaning. Larisa's husband Yuri put up some automatic lights for me last night and they really are helpful for me when I trudge across the dark expanse to my little cottage in the darkness of the night. In case you are interested, a new entry in YOU ASKED will be up in a day or two. Some questions have been submitted and they will be answered soon.

Except for five or ten minutes, the rain did not stop the entire day, but at least we had no snow. We served the second Presanctified Liturgy this week, and the singing was much better, although we can and should do better. The old church has good acoustics, but quite different from the new church, and thus it seemed that we sang too loudly. Still, it was nice to see the stalwart worshippers who came for the service and also the lenten meal that we shared later. All this is most meaningful and brings us all that much closer together. Luke is leaving for a visit to France with his school mates tomorrow, so he should give us a detailed report when he returns.

Finally, after several attempts, we were able to cross the border to mail some books, this time not having excuses such as bad weather, being snowed in, or a number of others. We knew that there was a parcel, perhaps even two, waiting for us at the post office, but great was our surprise when one after another box was brought to the counter, and I do mean boxes, as in large boxes. Suddenly we were seized with apprehension about how to bring all the goods back across our border. We prayed and hoped for the best. As it happened, the official was a young man, originally from Wales, who was polite, kind and most friendly. We explained that we had not been to the post office since the beginning of January, which was why many of the parcels were wrapped in Christmas paper. There were many gifts, nuts and dried fruit enough to keep us alive for more than all of Great Lent, and also natural soap that exceeds all others in quality. Such was the excitement for the day.

No doubt each year I mention the saying that if March comes in like a lion, it should go out like a lamb, but in the case of this year, I really do not know what to say. Perhaps it has come in more like a goat, but neither a lamb nor a lion. We visited the nursery of people who come to the monastery and were charmed by the early flowers that have appeared. They live so close to the American border that you can almost throw a stone over it. On second thought, it would be unwise to do so, or the American Border Guards might show up. We had our first Presanctified Liturgy of this year's great lent and, although we did get off to a somewhat rough start, it ended well. As well it felt so good to be in the old church once again.

Well, it happened again. There was a heavy snowfall overnight, and we had to drive into town this morning and all went well until we got to the rise at the end of our road. We could not make it, so Davey and Daniel came out to free us. Each year on the day before the first Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, I take the necessary books and set them out, but this year was different. I could not find them yesterday, and today Father Moses and I spent a couple of hours searching everywhere, in every nook and cranny, but to no avail. Finally, as a last resort, I decided to look once more in each box and, lo and behold, there they were at the bottom of the most unexpected box. What a relief that was.

The first day of Great Lent proved to be full of temptations, anxieties, and an over abundant snowfall, something we did not want to see. By evening it seemed impossible to drive in, yet while we were serving the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, we heard voices and in walked some women who had not realized the amount of snow that had fallen here. I assume that they drove out safely. It was pleasant to be in our old church again for the service and it brought back many fond memories. In fact, we shall be serving there every day of this week.

Forgiveness Sunday: it arrived and suddenly we find ourselves on the threshold of this year's greatest spiritual journey, Great Lent. The merriment of Butter Week suddenly ends and is replaced by fasting and numerous services that lead us to contrition, then to the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The highlight of today's service was the fulfilment of the the Gospel message---forgiving one another, with many eyes filled with tears of love and of repentance. And it is here that I ask for your forgiveness, that we all may be voyageurs on this journey, and may we reach Holy Pascha with the greatest of joy and jubilation. I have seldom shared with you readers anything that has been sent to me, but I could not resist this brief message from remotest Russia. "I read your diary every day and it is as if I am at the monastery; I see the ducks and the flowers...I read YOU ASKED." I found that touching and I hope that I can invite all of you into this private little world.

It was somewhat unusual to have only young people come to the monastery today. Davey was here with his Bobcat, carrying and pushing mounds of wood chips into ravines and other places where such material is needed. I do not know if the Bobcat can do anything to repair our road with its many potholes that appeared during and after the nasty weather we recently had. Considerable tune was spent organizing material for tomorrow, such as making copies of the Prayer of Saint Ephrem in English and Slavonic, and making extra copies of the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete for next week. The Church of the Holy Relics [or as we often call it, the old church] is ready for the first service on Monday. Many people have such fond memories of it and refer to it as cozy, which sounds odd, but what they mean is that it is not large, has dozens of relics and it is reached by climbing two flights of stairs, almost as if into a tower.

Since we will be away tonight to bless a house, I decided to prepare today's diary entry before leaving. Before some of the cold weather returns, I wish to mention the flowers once more. Last Sunday Vladika Lazar noticed the first purple sweet violet and he gave it to Violeta who recalled that he did the same last year. The telephone repair man was here and now the line to my cottage is once again in service. The only negative aspect of this is having to answer both the land line and mobile telephones. With only two days left before Great Lent begins,we have been attempting to finish whatever is not allowed in that period, although the refrigerators are still full of dairy products, which forced us to boil two dozen eggs this morning and eat lots of cottage cheese.

Word is spreading that we will get more snow over the weekend and, although that might be true, we already have evidence that spring is on its way. Yesterday I brought in a small bouquet of sarcococco [commonly known as Christmas box] and placed it in a vase. The sublime fragrance was noticed by everyone and today I picked the first camellia bloom, having a rich pink colour that gladdened my heart. While strolling outside, I could hear the ducks quacking, the blue jays squawking, and the heron making what I call a mechanical noise. We shall have to wait a while before pruning the trees and shrubs, but it cannot be ignored for long.

It took almost one hour to report that the telephone line to my cottage is down and has been ever since the fury of the snow storm. I have done well enough with my mobile telephone, but the land line is necessary as well. After a lengthy wait, I finally got to speak to someone who eventually transferred me to another person who asked the same questions and, finally, transferred me to yet another person. It seems that someone will be here this week. The most difficult part of this was trying to understand the people at the other end. Each one had a strong Asian accent and I had to keep asking them to repeat themselves. Vladika wanted me to mention that there was a huge flock of mergansers in the water this morning, a beautiful sight indeed. Vladika, Father Moses and I went to Monica's house to bless it before supper time. After the blessing we sat down for supper which, as expected, was wonderful. Their black, mostly Labrador, dog stole our hearts while exhibiting his amazing behaviour.

David has gone and we are back to our old routines. People from the Department of Fisheries were here to plant trees, or perhaps they could be called saplings, and to clean up the mess around the culvert that was installed last autumn. They had some soil brought in and dumped on either end of the culvert, so that the road looks wider there. I just hope that the beavers do not develop a taste for these saplings, which they probably will, as they seem to attack most trees. A volunteer came here after work to hang the icons in the altar of the old church and to do a number of finishing touches so that we can have our first service there next Monday, on the first day of Great Lent, of course after the church has been blessed anew.

Steve left by an early train and, by the time I finish writing this diary, he should be home again, in Chicago. It was a great visit, but too short, although he will be back perhaps even with his entire family. David is still with us and is presently giving a lecture at an academy, but he will be leaving us tomorrow. The Department of Fisheries sent out a crew to work on our stream and earlier today they were in our neighbour's field, promising to come to us tomorrow to plant some trees and bring things into order. It is difficult to imagine the amount of work they have done here over the past three to four years to enhance the salmon run. A delivery truck pulled up to bring us a large box that is still unopened, although I know that it is part of the larger order that came last week with plates, cutlery, etc, for which we are most grateful.

The church was fairly well packed for the Divine Liturgy and the rest, for we basically begin at nine and finish at twelve which sounds terribly long for some, but the time really passes by quickly when everyone participates in the singing. The Agape meal was splendid and the Meleti, which I did not attend, was conducted in the church, while a Romanian akathist was served in the old church. Quite a few people were absent either due to the flu or else being on vacation, so we should see them again in a week or two. I was thrilled when Nika Kalugin presented me with an Old Believer prayer rope that came from the Rogozkskaya Cathedral in Moscow. It is quite different from the ordinary prayer rope and I shall have to master using it. The Old Believers refer to is as a "ladder." You can find pictures of it on the internet.

A broadcast was made this morning with Vladika Lazar, David Goa, Steve Bynum and Ron Dart that can be found on You Tube. I was not involved in it, as Daniel ran the camera. Yesterday's prosphora was not satisfactory so I baked another one; this time it was better. Vespers was served after a memorial service since this was a memorial Saturday and, I must say, the singing was excellent, thanks to Steve joining us. One woman who was in attendance is visiting from Moscow and she was thrilled with the singing because it was so different than what she hears in Moscow. We can be like chipmunks now that we were brought three large bags of almonds, walnuts and pecans, all of which are very good nutritionally speaking, although they are calorific.

Much of this day was spent in rushing from one clinic to another and also to the hospital for tests and procedures necessary before I have some minor surgery next month. It has been warm and sunny but I fear that rain will return, perhaps even tomorrow. And, at long last, I can use the car rather than the jeep which still baffles me a little. I was pleased to have some questions submitted for YOU ASKED and the answers will be posted sooner rather than later. In preparing these answers, I found myself becoming gradually more involved in the answering, a wonderful way to expand one's mind.

This was a day of medical and dental appointments and, I am happy to announce, I was informed that I should be around for some time yet. On top of that, the dentist found nothing wrong, so that I was left with a feeling of gratitude and well being, something that is necessary at my age. Our visitors have arrived, David from Edmonton, via Victoria, and Steven from Chicago. We are truly glad to see them and hope that their visit will be beneficial and free of any snow, wind or cold, as we must keep up the pretence of living in a semitropical region!

Today we celebrated the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple which is the correct name, not "The Presentation of the Lord..." or worse "The Purification of the Holy Virgin Mary." You will soon read the answer in "You Asked" to a question about blessing candles on this feast, where it originated and, lastly, why it should be avoided. Both Father Anatoly and Father Nifont concelebrated with Vladika Lazar while we at the kliros manage better than last night. Not too many were present but what a meal that was put out. We all sat at length, enjoying the company of each other on this feast day. By mid afternoon Igor-Daniel drove the visitors to Vancouver where they will spend the night and then fly back to Montreal on Thursday morning.

Most of the day spent with visitors, Father Anatoly from Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Montreal and Father Nifont who is visiting from Ukraine and, of course, our own Father Michael from Vancouver. After a pleasant and leisurely lunch there was much to talk about and, for part of the time, we sat out on the porch of the konak, the building that houses the printing press. The Vespers service would have been nicer still, if both Father Moses and I were in better form, but this weather has been harsh on our voices. Our faithful women came to feed us, and naturally to attend the service.

If you are superstitious, do not fear, this is not Friday the thirteenth! This day began as every day should: sunny, warm, with snow melting. While sitting at my small table next to the sliding glass door, I felt the need to open this door to let in some fresh air and, having done so, the room itself responded to this awakening. Dozens of coleopterous insects of the family Coccinellidae [otherwise known as ladybirds or ladybugs---the former sounds much nicer] appeared from nowhere and began crawling on the screen of the open door. As I opened the screen, many of them flew out. In preparing for the visits of two groups this week, we dutifully cleaned, scrubbed and vacuumed, mainly between the visits of people who came to see us today. Father Moses began reciting the names of people, known to him, who more or less read this dairy daily, one of them being David of Richmond---good on you!

The Nistor and Tihon families must be enjoying themselves in the Dominican Republic, having missed the terrible storms that we recently experienced, but we missed them, particularly in the Divine Service where they so readily participate. Never the less, the other readers did well. Monica prepared food for the memorial service in memory of her family, although others added the names of their dear departed ones as well. I was pleased to see our faithful Americans and those who were stranded last week, not even able to drive out of their yards. A dozen people gathered for another lesson in Old Church Slavonic which Reader Dmitri conducted. It was amazing to see these adults, sitting on low benches like pupils from the nineteenth century, practising this language and enjoying doing it immensely.

I seem to recall a popular song of many decades ago that was called "Happy Days Are Here Again" and that is how I felt this morning, with the wind gone, snow disappearing, and a different, almost sweet, scent in the air. Looking about us, though, is another matter, as there are branches and even entire trees lying everywhere, victims of the storm. One of our kind women just emailed to say that they would be out one day to help clean up the mess. I also noticed that the roof of the wood lean-to had collapsed, but it should not be too difficult to repair that. Still, we do have to be careful while walking about outdoors, as there are icy patches and we cannot afford to slip or to be injured.

By noon power had been restored and we felt as if we were in civilization once again. How much for granted we take the conveniences that are all around us. It also meant that we could use our computers once again. The wind began to blow from the west rather than from the east which is a very good sign, and the snow has been melting. Possibly by the middle of next week I can use my car once again, as it is still half covered in snow. The telephone line to my place was torn down by the ice that had accumulated on it, so it will be some time before I can use the landline, but at least I have the mobile phone. Many thanks again to our good friends Davey, Chris, Andy and our neighbour Cliff, for helping us during this nasty period. What a blessing it is to have such kind and helpful people nearby.

Thank you for your message from Magnitogorsk, Liudmila, telling us how cold it is there. I am actually writing this on Friday evening, as all day yesterday and part of today we had no power and thus survived by dressing warmly and covering ourselves with all the blankets that we could find at night. Therefore, there is little to report about this day except that we got stuck again in the snowdrifts.

Due to a doctor's appointment, we had to drive into town this morning. Even though Davey had cleared our road last night, yet new snowdrifts appeared overnight. Upon returning home, we were able to drive part of the way on our monastery road when suddenly we became stuck in a snowbank. Nothing could be done, but fortunately, Davey and Chris came to our rescue. The vehicle was freed and backed up into a clear area and left there. We walked the rest of the way home in a new snowstorm. This really is becoming a nuisance, but it probably tests our patience. We were mistaken in thinking that the visitors were to arrive tomorrow; they will arrive the following Thursday when, let us hope, the weather will be less inclement.

The sun came out and cheered us up a bit, although we have been warned that there is another storm warning for tomorrow night. I have never seen it this bad before and let us hope that spring arrives soon. No one has visited us all day and somehow we seemed to be in a stupor, unable to accomplish anything much. Father Moses is recovering and sounding cheerier than before which is a positive sign. My supply of seeds for the birds has ended and only a couple of the birds have been scratching and searching for the few remaining seeds. Our cats have done well during this stormy weather, enjoying the comfort of their little cat house, but it is evident, by their behaviour, that they really want to get out once more to patrol the yard and the fields, something they have been unable to do because of all the snow.

As Vladika Lazar had an early appointment with his periodontist, we needed to set out at 7:30 in the morning in his Jeep. The first several snowdrifts were easy enough to break through, but the waist-high one near the monument proved to be unmanageable. Still, after a lot of digging and striving, we finally made it, and also the next few drifts as well. Yet, when we tried to conquer the last challenge, the steep but short hill to the main road, we were defeated. Soon, Andy showed up and, with his youthful energy, dug us out and, after countless attempts, we at least reached the upper part of the ill, which still was not enough. Soon Davey and Chris came and the three of them eventually freed us, by which time Vladika would have been an hour late for his appointment, but he did telephone to explain his situation. Later in the day our neighbour came with his huge backhoe digger and cleared the road. More snow is forecast, so we might be snowed in for some time, yet visitors are due in a couple of days which should make for a most interesting stay. As well, some kind people, hearing that we might be cut off for a while, arrived with a 40 pound bag of rice, a 50 pound bag of onions, 16 litres of oil, with all sorts of vegetables and fruit. With that supply, we should be good for a couple of weeks!

It has been years since we experienced a day such as today. Many callers were asking if they could get through to the monastery and they had to be told that it was impossible to drive in. Misha, who usually arrives before seven o'clock, spent more than two hours waiting nearby to see if anyone would come through and, eventually, a number of cars did manage to get onto our main road, but not through the monastery lane where a couple of snowbanks were four to five feet high. Sorin was the first to battle his way through the drifts and we began Matins. Very slowly a few more showed up, having almost crawled through the snow. In the end we had over two dozen brave souls for the service which was followed by prayers for travel, a memorial service, the abbreviated healing service, and, finally, a thanksgiving service later on. The Agape meal was quickly prepared by the women and all of us crowded into the refectory and kitchen. Then, everyone had to struggle back through the snowdrifts to reach their cars that had been parked on the upper road. On the other hand, everyone enjoyed the challenge, commenting on how much this reminded them of their childhood, growing up with severe snow storms and also admiring the beauty of the snow. Many photographs were taken and we should be able to upload them soon.

Thomas and Daniel took turns in shovelling snow, in particular making paths between the main buildings. The snow, however, continued to fall and soon these tunnel-like passage were quickly filling up again. We had visitors from Edmonton who were determined to walk the entire length of our road, through snowdrifts and all, which they did, having great fun in doing so, but they are from Alberta and there such things are taken in stride. Still, it was a delightful visit. Vespers was served with just us present in the church that had not had a chance to warm up. After supper we heard voices at the side door, discovering that a group of Georgian men drove here to see if we needed any assistance, which they were ready to provide if needed. We were touched by their concern and love.

Upon arising, I dreaded looking out of the window, expecting to see what was unwanted yet, all looked normal until an hour or so later when it began to snow and it has not stopped for a moment. A couple of the larger icons were hung in the refectory with still much space on the walls for more. The translation being done by Sergey is nearing completion and, without a doubt, he has done a magnificent job of translation into Russian, having an ability to find just the perfect turn of phrase. Once I returned to my place, there was no need to venture out, for the snow got deeper and deeper. There was enough in the cupboard that I could prepare a light supper for myself, and then I realized that I would have to type this diary on Saturday morning. With an extra fuzzy comforter on hand, I went to bed on this most wintery night.

Some literature that had been printed a long time ago, but was just lying in stacks was finally gathered, boxed, and delivered to the bindery where we have long had a good relationship. How good it was to see our friends again, because we regard them as friends rather than business people and they, in turn, do not think of us as customers, but rather as friends. After a long visit and keeping them away from their work, we returned home to look after the tasks that had not as yet been dealt with. While stopping at a coffee shop for a "cuppa", I noticed two spelling errors in the menu and I could not refrain myself from speaking out. This is deeply ingrained and nothing irritates me more than spelling errors, although I make plenty of them, and the complete misunderstanding of the use of the apostrophe. As a result, I pointed out the errors to the woman behind the counter who was not at all offended, but she thanked me, saying that it reminded her of her high school son who does the same thing.

It feels as if we have not even completed all that was to be done In January and here it is February. Father Moses did me a great favour by sorting through the boxes and piles that had accumulated, saving what is necessary and discarding, for the recycling bin, what is not. A few more hours of this and I shall be able to move about comfortably, instead of cautiously manoeuvring through all that has been set about. Perhaps some of you can sympathize with me, knowing that some of the saved material will be needed one day, except that it might not be for months or even years! Thank you Liudmila for letting us know that you arrived safely in Magnitogorsk. Do not feel bad about the snow there, as we might have some here today or tomorrow.

We have been warned about possible snow later this week yet, looking around us, we see signs of approaching spring, one such sign being the outdoor sale of primroses. It has become a custom to buy some pots of this attractive flower to keep indoors as a reminder of the joy of spring to come. Naturally, I bought a couple of them and they ended up in the monastery kitchen for everyone to admire. Daniel drove an elderly couple to the city for a medical appointment, Thomas is away on a temporary job, and we are doing our best to keep moving along. Pilgrims arrived from Calgary and Nanaimo, and a moleben was served for them.

A very early arising was necessary to allow Thomas to catch the train to the city, but it worked well, since both Vladika and I had to be subjected to spinal decompression a little later in the morning. I look forward to these sessions, because after their conclusion, the entire spine feels revived and no pain is experienced. Joanna dropped in, bringing a giant sized baking tray full of roasted vegetables done in the Greek style which should last us a couple of days. She is one of those people who can help family, friends and even unknown people by feeding them, visiting the ill in the hospitals, looking after her own huge garden and house, with many more activities that could overwhelm most of us. At her age she even thinks nothing of climbing a fruit tree to prune it.

A couple of days ago I had hoped the prosphora baked for today's service would be better than the previous one and, in case anyone is interested, it was perfect with its texture being precisely what it should be, with no crumbs produced while cutting it. It was a joy to welcome some new people, and some who live some distance away from here. Reader Markel gave a good sermon in Russian and, coming from Moldova, he is fluent in both Russian and Romanian and, of course, now in English, which is such a positive addition to the monastery and its services. Reader Dmitri, whom I designated as a professor of Old Church Slavonic, conducted a class in this field after the Agape meal for a dozen people who want to learn to read in this language and, moreover, to understand it. What enthusiasm they showed and how well Dmitri led them. Just before leaving, Natasha accidentally knocked over a jar of pureed beets, with the contents spilling over the new carpet. She looked devastated, but instantly she and some other women rushed to the kitchen and took immediate steps to clean the spill. As good housekeepers, they knew exactly what measures to take and, in no time at all, the carpet was restored to its former state. What would we do without these active and knowledgeable women?

Thomas has been cleaning everywhere outdoors after the snow and storms of this winter that had left branches and twigs lying everywhere. Davey came with his bobcat to move the wood chips off to one side of the parking area. After Vespers we had two tables of guests eating what the women had brought to fed all of us. Sasha brought the unfinished cabinets that he made for the two washrooms at the end of the corridor, and Sergey brought us holy water and oil from Divyeevo in Russia and numerous pictures from Nizhi Novogorod. Our neigbourhood boys dropped in just in time to join us for supper, so that we had a pleasant time with each other.

Visitors from Moscow, who wished to visit the monastery before their return home next week, were given copies of the icon Joy Of Canada. They were interested in the details of this icon, as are most visitors. Father Moses and Thomas filled dozens of bottles with holy water for this Sunday service, using up all the bottles that had been sterilized for this very purpose. If more are needed in the future, we will worry about that when the time comes, meanwhile it was a joy seeing how many bottles have already been taken. I would say that at least 200, if not more, have been quickly taken by those who came to worship here. In fact, bottles were taken to Vancouver Island, Washington State, and to places in the interior of B.C. Last week's experiment, using parchment paper to cover the prosphora while baking produced a prosphora that was rather pale and not quite sufficiently baked, although it was perfectly usable. In today's preparation, I used some parchment paper only toward the end of the baking to keep the crust from becoming too brown. As for its interior, we shall find out on Sunday.

Among the saints commemorated today is Saint Eleazar of Anzersk who was the patron saint of Eleazar who had spent many years with us, but long ago had departed this life. A few readers of this diary will undoubtedly remember him, a talented and intelligent young man who, through no fault of his own, could not cope with the many realities of this life. So many years have passed but we can still recall many of his charming qualities. I was quite puzzled late this afternoon, wondering why I was feeling tired and unwell, and only much later did it dawn on me that perhaps it was because of getting up at what seemed like the middle of the night to drive Daniel to catch the train to Vancouver. After a good rest I seemed to have become reinvigorated. It is amazing how people notice the smallest details in this diary for, having mentioned Malto-Meal yesterday, a request was sent for a recipe on how to prepare it---very simple, if you are interested.

It was midnight when the hospital telephoned to inform me that Vladika Lazar could return to the monastery. Naturally he was tired and even hungry, as he had not eaten since morning. He is recovering now and his breathing has returned to its normal state, although he was warned about the high level of stress that he endures. Despite all this, we visited some dear friends for prayers and blessings and now, an early to bed closure for the day will be a welcome thought. We had time to stop at our favourite Persian market to buy several boxes of charcoal for the censers. In our absence, Father Moses fed the men, and now that it is supper time, I shall prepare a pot of MaltoMeal for them, a dish that they all enjoy and one so easy to prepare on a fast day.

As I am typing this diary at 8:30 pm, Vladika Lazar is in the Emergency Ward at the Mission Hospital where I left him about three hours ago. It will be after midnight when they will advise me whether to pick him up or to leave him at the hospital. I do know that they have already taken a battery of tests, MRI, x-rays, etc. to see if there is an aneurism, blood clot or whatever. Please keep him in your prayers. As for today itself, it has been busy with printing, correcting, and a lot of office work, and trying to catch up on all that has accumulated which appears to be a never ending job.

I was certain that today would be special, judging by the number of people who arrived for the beginning of Matins, and my hunch was not wrong. How fortunate it was to capture, on video, the singing of "Praise ye the name of the Lord..." with the full complement of men's voices. Now that we have a ramp, people like Granny could gain easy access to the church, whereas in the old church they would have had to contend with a flight of stairs which, on occasion, did happen. Because of the huge crowd, it became hot in the church and, after the blessing of the water and the dismissal, we went outdoors to process to the stream, except for me, as Igor drove me in his auto. I think that you will be able to see this year's brave souls enter the water on You Tube and I was especially proud of the two teen aged sisters who joined the rest. When we returned to the hall for the Agape meal, we found the heat almost oppressive, partially because we had been outside, but mainly because the stove had too many logs added to it. The Nativity decorations were taken down and all seems to have returned to its normal state.

While taking a stroll to look at any damage that might have been done during the cold spell with the resulting snow and ice, I did notice that the hellebores were doing fairly well and the violets, while not yet flowering, still had such bright and healthy looking leaves. Today's visitors came mainly for the Holy Water, in addition to having confession. Apparently, in my absence of an hour or so, a woman thrust her head in the door and handed over loaves of home made bread to Father Moses. Others brought preserved goods and, finally, Glyko brought us some of her own galaktobouriko [not certain of the spelling], a Greek dish of a custard like filling between phyllo dough leaves---scrumptious to say the least. We are hoping that the possibility of showers tomorrow will not spoil the day for us, as a number of people plan to process to the stream for the blessing of its water and to plunge into it.

I am beginning to think that some of the war zones possibly have fewer power outages than we do, for this morning it happened again. At least it was not cold. People arrived for a Slava service, as their patron saint is Saint John the Baptist, whose memory we commemorate today. We began by candle light but before long the power returned and we continued in the bright light. I noticed that one of the camellia bushes has a bud that is ready to open---in mid January? We were asked to have, in addition to the Daily Diary, a question and answer page, which sounds very promising. If anyone has a question, please submit it and, if it is too theological or heavy, I shall have others respond. It does not yet have a name, but a suggestion was made by a faithful follower of the Diary, to call it Frequently Asked Questions. We will try to put it next to the Dairy Diary on the website, so click it and see if anything pops up.

We celebrated the feasts of Theophany today and, as it so often happens, more people arrived than expected, despite the unceasing rain. Unfortunately we were unable to have a Cross Proccesion due to the heavy rain, yet it was possible for at least a dozen brave souls to go to the river where Igor poured out a bottle of Holy Water, after which others descended into the water. There will be another blessing of water on Sunday and I think that many more people will be anxious at that time to plunge into the cold water. Moreover, it is great to see the old church coming back to life, with the interior almost emptied, service books shelved, and icons stored, with only the chosen icons to be hung and banners to be put up set aside. Then will come the consecration of the temple.

From different parts of the country people are telling us of how warm it is today, and although it might be pleasant, it is contrary to the common Russian usage of the phrase "the Theophany frosts". It is precisely in this period that the days are supposed to be bitterly cold and when the brave souls go out to plunge into the blessed cold water. Could it be part of the climate change? Thanks to the dozens of wine bottles that the women had cleaned and sterilized, in addition to the smaller bottles of water, we are well prepared for the popular demand of Holy Water. Some water was blessed at the service this evening, more will be blessed tomorrow and still more next Sunday. There is a sweet belief amongst common people that on this night, water everywhere is sanctified and, even if this is not quite so, how gratifying it is to encounter such sincerity.

Now that most of the snow has gone, it looks rather bleak outdoors with the occasional pile of snow mixed with sand and dirt, reminding me of the Prairies [sorry, you Prairie folks, it is not an insult, but merely a recollection] where parking lots have such piles until April or even May. I hope that the winter blooming shrubs and plants will soon come to life again. Although I did not see them, I do know that Valentina and Virgil were here last night, together with our regular helper who wishes to remain anonymous, all working in the vestry of the old church. Before long it will be completed and we will be able to use the church once again. Daniel seems to be one of those people who cannot tolerate seeing things out of place, consequently he is so often observed stacking, piling, sorting, etc, hoping to find a proper place for each item.

Can you believe that another incident took place this morning when I noticed a mouse staring at me and not running away, rather, just barely moving? I hope that this will not happen again, at least not for a long time to come. It is not pleasant having to dispose of them. We were up at 4:30 to drive Steve, our visitor from Chicago, to catch an early train to Vancouver where he could transfer to the Airport Train. He did notify us later that he had arrived home safely. It has begun to drizzle and we are told that there shall be rain each day for the next week. At least the rain will not cause us to have icy streets, but there could be some flooding.

It is amazing how a bright and sunny day can affect our feelings, or have I said that a number of times before? It took a while to figure out why there was no electricity in the altar, although that was dealt with soon. Matins was served and sung beautifully even though few people were in attendance, while the Liturgy brought us together. Still, we were a few short of our regulars, yet some others came to replace them, and of course, we had our American visitors. At the end of the Agape meal, a little concert was given in honour of Vladika Lazar's birthday that had taken place on Thursday. Aside from the many gifts, people sang some of Vladika's favourite Russian songs, and that was followed by a Romanian one. I must say that all were in splendid spirits [and I do not mean the alcoholic ones]. That somehow left little time for a Meleti and, perhaps, this whole episode was a spiritual instruction, in that we experienced such joy and fellowship. Our lesson in Church Slavonic had to be postponed but, on the other hand, two akathists were served, one in Russian and the other in Romanian. Really, it could not have been a better day.

This morning we had the baptism of three month old Catherine, who did so well, except for a startled cry when she was immersed in the baptismal water. What was especially nice was all the hair she had, since there are times when there is no hair to cut for the tonsure, and symbolic snipping is attempted. Today we have American visitors, from Chicago and Olympia, and I was worried that they would not be looked after, as I have been very tired. In fact, I was tempted to tell everyone to open the refrigerator doors [we have two of them in the kitchen and to help themselves, a not very monastic welcome, when suddenly a group of women showed up with seven or eight different dishes to treat us. As a result, there was more than enough for all of us, and I felt immensely relieved. It is such a blessing to have such wonderful people wanting to look after us. I neglected to mention that we had a midnight service last night, for which some brave souls showed up. It was later than two in the morning before I got to bed.

It has warmed up a little, and the paths and roads are clear, but all the salt that was spread to melt the ice is now clinging to our shoes and boots, and we are tracking it indoors. If there is one problem, another one lurks behind. In the same manner, it seems that once a task has been completed, two or even three more pop up from nowhere, and they must be dealt with. We are now waiting for the midnight service to celebrate the "old" new year with a moleben. I do not know how many, if any, people will show up, but at least all of us here at the monastery are looking forward to it. There are a couple of ice cream cakes in the freezer, held over from last Sunday, and no doubt we shall bring them out after the service when we will have our tea.

It has been a busy day, answering telephone calls and receiving visitors, for it is Vladika Lazar's birthday today, the feast of Saint Anisia of Thessaloniki of whom he is very fond. Our very good friend Steve flew in from Chicago for a brief visit of a few days, a welcome visit indeed, for we have not seen him for some time. Each time he brings along some of that fresh and invigorating Lake Michigan air that blends so well with our local Pacific breeze. It will be great, as a sub deacon, having him here on Sunday for the services.

WEDNESDAY 11 JANUARY 2017 When I awoke early this morning, I turned on the bedside lamp to see what time it was and, thinking that there was no need to hurry in getting up, I took advantage of a few more minutes of rest. The light suddenly flickered and the telephone made a strange crackling sound that should have warned me of a power failure, but I was lulled into thinking that it was a mere fleeting annoyance, only to find, moments later, that there was a repetition and the power stayed off for over nine hours. In summer this would be considered child's play, but with a cold Arctic wind howling outside, it was another matter. In the end, we took shelter in the Public Library in Mission, carrying our brief cases with material to work on while waiting for the power to return which it eventually did. I can assure you that there are fewer delights in this world than to see the light come on again, to hear the sound of the refrigerator or the water pump, and to be able to put the kettle on for a good cup of tea.

As it has been cold and windy, I had a good excuse to stay indoors and keep warm while proof reading one of the services that we use, enabling me to correct spelling errors and others things that had cropped up. If I am not mistaken, there is a saying something like---if you think of the devil, he surely will pop up. There was no episode with the evil one, but I did think how nice it has been without seeing a single mouse since earlier last year. Moments later I walked into my bedroom and, you can imagine what I saw: a mouse, a rather small one who looked puzzled, so I had to take the extreme measure!

How quiet it has been the entire day after a weekend of services, visits, activities and great celebrations. Actually, we have been reliving the beauty of the services and the joy given us by the children's Yolka or, as Elia has said each year, "I can hardly wait for the next year's presentation." Andy hauled away the numerous bags of garbage that had accumulated, and Daniel has made an attempt at sorting through much of which has been donated or simply left behind. It was good to hear from Father Vasili in Florida and we hope that he will be able to join us for Holy Pascha.

Once again it was well before seven in the morning when the fragrant scent of burning wood became noticeable which meant, naturally, that Misha had arrived and had started a fire in the wood burning stove in the hall. By the time I had arrived, the readers were already present and soon we began Matins, during which time only a few people showed up. Once the Liturgy began, we saw people hurrying in to get out of the biting wind and, in no time at all, the church was filled with worshippers. It truly was a joyous service and after it ended, we descended into the hall where a large assortment of dishes awaited us. This was the "breaking of the fast" that we all enjoyed. The children's Yolka followed with the adults probably enjoying it as much as the children. Lilia has the talent of preparing a programme that appeals to all ages and it engages the children totally. Grandfather Frost arrived from the north [you have probably guessed by now who he was!] and he was welcomed by all the children. At the end of the presentation, he passed out presents to all the children and thus ended the Yolka for another year. It was also a treat to see Taras and his family, as well as others whom we had not seen for some time. Vera came from Seattle with boxes and candies full of baking, cookies, etc many of which were given to the children in addition to the 100 or so individual desserts that she had prepared for this event. We do have to thank Lilia Timoshkina and all those with her for another marvellous Yolka, the memory of which will remain with us for a long time.

Today is a great feast day in the Orthodox Church, as we celebrated the nativity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Misha arrived long before seven o'clock and started the fire in the hall, so that when I walked in, it was warm and the scent of burning wood was everywhere present. Moments before beginning the service, we had another power failure, so the generator was brought out and started, but it was only for the purpose of having running water. We then began the service using candles, and somewhere during the second antiphon, if I remember correctly, power returned and all was well after that. It became very hot in the church and the heater was turned off, all because of the number of people present. Since there was a group of Georgians present, the Lord's Prayer and the Nativity Kondak were sung in Georgian. The meal was actually a breaking of the fast with so many dishes set out. An unexpected visit by Grandfather Frost was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone and there seemed to be no end to the photographs taken. By contrast, the evening Vespers service was quiet and gentle, with almost no one present, and now we shall prepare ourselves for tomorrow's Liturgy and the Yolka.

We could scarcely wait for the evening service to begin, but there was much to be done before that. Two prosphoras had to be baked, and they looked good, although somewhat thinner than usual. It seemed that all was ready, yet as we prepared to begin the service, I was almost panic stricken for no one could find the loaves that were to be blessed. In the end we realized that someone had taken them and eaten them! Now you can understand why panic set in, however, other loaves were found and they were satisfactory. Quite a few people came for the service, after which we had a lenten supper with the hall decorated with strands of coloured lights.

Our day began with the arrival of Vladimir and Inna who brought us an immense amount of fruit, vegetables and other things needed in the kitchen, such as flour, sugar and rice. Such supplies are not only meant for us but also for all those who come as visitors or as pilgrims. It felt as if we could open a small grocery store right here on the premises, but it is with heartfelt thanks that we accept offerings from the faithful. Our dear Granny, Svetlana, from Volgograd sends her greetings and best wishes to the brotherhood and to all those who come to worship her at the monastery. There is still no word about when she might return, so let us all keep her in our prayers that we might, in the near future, see her again in our midst.

What a difference it makes outdoors when the cold wind dies down as it has today, bringing us some respite with some of the snow even melting. We are in the process of cleaning and vacuuming the church and all the rooms in preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Christ. The material needed for the evening service has been set aside, and tomorrow we shall take a good look at it, although it is so familiar, that there is little need for any rehearsal. The men who worked in the renovation of the old church took photos so that we could later see which icons were located where, but perhaps we shall have fewer, as some of the walls scarcely had any free space left. People keep donating icons, thinking that we might need more of them, and it is a kind thought, but we can accommodate only so many. Just last week someone mentioned that we will be receiving a suitcase full of icons from Belorus and my first thought was---what will we do with them? Igor suggested that they should be examined first, to make certain that they are acceptable and in the proper style, not like the "academic" ones that one encounters so often.

TUESDAY 3 JANUARY 2017 This has been a remarkably quiet day interrupted only by several telephone panic calls, but we are fairly used to that. All in all, each day ends with matters resolved as best as possible. My pathway is mostly clear of snow but conditions everywhere are icy. I was informed that our two cats are making use of the little house that Jonathan had built for them, although they are hardy creatures and not at all afraid of the cold.

We are surviving the cold spell, but we are certainly looking forward to warmer days. Father Moses, Thomas and I went to the upper church and covered the holy table with new cloths. The one that wrapped around the holy table was the creamy gold Chinese brocade, while the top cloth was the one I had once earlier mentioned, greenish blue with an acanthus leaf design, and with tassels on each corner. The result is amazing and I am certain that it will appeal to everyone who will see it once the church is again in operation. They also began to dust the icons and, in fact, everything else in the church. We thought that our resident crane had left us, but there it was, standing in the middle of the stream, probably looking for something to eat.

The new year has arrived and it was at 9:15 last night when I was made aware of how many people were reading the Daily Diary. My best wishes to all those who have put up with this diary month after month, indeed, year after year, and I would like to let you know how much I appreciate sharing a few thoughts each day with you. There are too many of you to mention individually, but it seems that Galina of Abbotsford and Elena of Washington are usually the first to read each entry. This morning could not have looked more perfect, with soft snow covering everything, even the tiniest twigs on the trees and, knowing that we had about eight centimeters of snow, I expected that few people would come to church. Indeed, we were alone during Matins, but a few brave souls arrived for the Liturgy, after the beginning of which all went well. When the Agapi meal had ended, about a dozen of us gathered to begin our first lesson in Church Slavonic and I was amazed at the enthusiasm shown by these people who wish to be able to read in original Church Slavonic. It was thanks to Dmitri Arykov that we got off to such a good start, as he patiently explained what we had come to hear. No doubt we shall have more such studies in the future. We also enjoyed the weekend visit of Ahmet Saad and we hope to see him again very soon.

Well, this is it! None of 2016 is left except for a few hours. We find that each year is different, as it should be, and this one has been no exception. Let us pray that next year will bring us peace and harmony and good health, along with spiritual well being. It has begun to snow, so I hope that it does not keep people away tomorrow morning, but that will be another story. An interesting visitor has come to us today, Ahmet Saad, a brilliant young man from Vancouver, and we have enjoyed his company immensely. If we get snowed in, then he will be with us longer than he had anticipated. And so, let us bid farewell to this year and meet again tomorrow in a brand new year, full of hope and joy.

I cannot help but feel tired, for the day has been long and evening has just begun. I drove to White Rock, a pleasant drive along a country road that terminates at the ocean. This little city has been a favourite for many decades and one can understand why, after even a brief visit there. The first stop was to visit Elena, an old friend of the monastery, who had prepared a wonderful lenten lunch, and whose friend Galina joined us. Then I went on to Alla's house where the entire family, together with friends, were waiting for me to do a house blessing. And, again, another lenten meal was ready, with fine bone china and crystal glasses on the table. All this reminded me of years gone by, before monasticism when, as a university student, I lived with Russian aristocracy. Here at the monastery we are accustomed to eating off mismatched plates, using plain cutlery and, on occasion, with chopsticks.

One of the neighbouring fields was covered with Arctic swans, also call tundra swans I believe, searching for any grain or seeds among the stubble after autumn's harvest. They are stately in appearance, but differ from the trumpeting swans, for they do not trumpet at all. As a matter of fact, we do see the latter and when a few dozen fly overhead, all of them trumpeting, the effect is overpowering. We drove to Bellingham to visit some elderly friends whom we had not seen for some time. After crossing the border, we had a pleasant encounter with some acquaintances, which was most unexpected. On the return trip, we stopped at a service station to get some coffee and were treated by the owner, an Orthodox Lebanese man who brought us up to date on Orthodoxy in that part of the state of Washington.

It was late morning when we began the baptismal service for Alexander Li who hails from Kyrgyzstan and is of Korean descent. The simplicity of the service touched him deeply and it was with joy that we greeted him into the Household of God. Some material has been gathered for the study of the Church Slavonic language which we will attempt next Sunday and perhaps continue for a while after that. Please do not think that this is an attempt to lead them into a distant past or into something unnecessarily ethnic, no, it is a desire on their part to broaden their knowledge of the fulness of Orthodoxy and, with that in mind, they hope to be able to read prayers and other material in the original.

Most of the snow has gone, thanks to the gently falling rain and, once again, it feels more like the West Coast. The Holy Table in the old church had its covers removed and now new ones will replace them. In fact, some appropriate material must be purchased for this very purpose. The top cloth, a rich greenish blue brocade, with silken acanthus leaves as a pattern, bordered with gold fringe and four large tassels, provides a stately appearance. It was good to hear from Oxana from the Okanagan and, one day perhaps, we shall be able to visit the family, perhaps in "apple blossom time" as many old songs once reminded us.

We had a few hours of snow, the kind that people have in mind when they dream of their childhood, large snowflakes, drifting gently and making the landscape look blissfully peaceful. Let us hope that it stays that way. It has been unusually quiet, with only one family visiting to arrange for the baptism of their tiny baby girl, which will be the first baptism in the new year. On Wednesday we shall have an adult baptism, the last one of this year. Several comments were made over the weekend about the Constant Contact that we have initiated recently. Those who live far away and can come here only occasionally said that they want to be informed of all that is taking place here at the monastery, which is pleasing for us to hear.

It had been bright and sunny the entire day, although a cold easterly wind was easily felt once one went outdoors, as I did when I was asked to bless a couple of vehicles. Although today was a civil holiday, Christmas, many people came for the Divine Liturgy. After the Agape meal, the Yule tree and many decorations were brought out and the process of decorating the tree and the hall began, not with children and young people as it often had been done in the past, but with middle aged people, and even older ones, who seemed to enjoy this even more than the children had before. It was a job well done and we are now prepared for the important feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. And, yes, Vera did come from Seattle, bring with her five of her lenten tortes.

Winter has officially arrived and now we can look forward to days becoming longer, although it will be some time before it can be noticed.  Having been shut in all day, so to speak, there was ample time to read, write, and to schedule visits for house blessings, as well as for a baptism in the near future. The schedule of services was drawn up and should be posted in a day or two.  Father Moses baked an entire bag of potatoes, a job that he excels in, and they shall disappear quickly.  They are simple to prepare, very nourishing, and liked by everyone, making them to be especially popular during fasting periods.

The relatively warm morning air revived our spirits, leading us to once again believe that we live in a special micro climate and, of course, we do.  The roads were clean and driving was simple, whereas just the day before, our road was still treacherous.  John, our visitor from Colorado, left for home this morning, having had to endure some unpleasant weather while here. The madness of Christmas shopping is everywhere evident, as shoppers fill their carts with gifts and other holiday related material.  It will be a relief when this ends and life returns to its normal state.

There had been some light rain overnight and some of the snow had melted.  That was the good news.  The bad news told us that the rainwater upon the ice was treacherous, so we expected no one to come for the Liturgy on this day, the feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.  The service began with us alone, but shortly, Antony and Andrew walked in, having braved the icy condition of the monastery road. They were quite confident, having bought chains expressly for the purpose of driving to the monastery.  Wishing to be hospitable, the visitors were invited to a cup of tea after the service, yet there was almost nothing left from yesterday's meal other than  a bit of green Asian salad and green olives when, lo and behold, we noticed two containers of cabbage piroshki on the side cupboard, thus ensuring that we could have a festive meal.  After putting on the chains, the men left with no difficulty.  Later in the afternoon we drove into town and, on our return, we saw the monastery in complete darkness.  Yes, another power failure, but at least it lasted for only a couple of hours.  And, on another bit of joyful news, I now have fully running water and how good that feels.

We were informed that there had been a heavy snowfall in and around Vancouver , so that many were hesitant to drive to the monastery. Of course our Misha, who lives in central Vancouver, drove here, regardless of the amount of snow. We had a bevy of readers at the kliros which created a fascinating impression, seeing all the black cassocks. Aside from this group, there was no one, so to speak, at the beginning of the Liturgy, and I had already accepted the possibility that very few would come but, much to my surprise and pleasure, people kept drifting in until there was a sizable crowd, even though a couple of cars had to be pulled out of the snow by several of our strong young men. Reader Irinaeus gave a splendid sermon, and at the end of the service, Vladika Lazar gave an edifying word on the life of Saint Savva the Sanctified. We had a memorial litany for the grandfather of Galina, for which her Turkish in-laws were present, including her sister-in-law from Ankara who speaks Russian. Needless to say most left early, hoping to avoid any unpleasantness with the weather.

What a relief it was to have running water again in my little abode, although the sink in the bathroom still has only a dribble of water. More work is being done on the stairs leading up to the old church and I can scarcely wait until we can move everything into place and hang all the icons. How propitious it was to have Daniela with us for Vespers, because there was nothing prepared for supper, whereas she had brought a large pot of Spanish rice so that all of us could enjoy a simple and satisfying meal. At this very moment three of the men have gone to rescue Daniela who was unable to drive up the hill due to the icy condition. Surely three strong men will be able to push the car uphill, in fact, they could probably just lift it and carry it over! This reminds me of an episode that took place many years ago in an Italian city where the car was wedged between to other cars. What was to be done? Suddenly four young men appeared, picked it up and carried it out into the middle of the road. With a smile and hearty laugh, they took off into the distance.

Thank you, Liudmila, for your kind words, telling me that you miss not a single entry of the Daily Diary. I often wonder if anyone bothers to read it, or how regularly they glance at it, and there even have been times when I pondered on the usefulness of it. No doubt I have become so accustomed to it, that it is a simple and satisfying reflection on the day's events. Our visitor from Denver has gone to Vancouver for the day, while Daniel has helped Vladika Lazar with one of the regular broadcasts. Our friend John from Pennsylvania has sent a copy of his recently published book of photographs he had taken while in Viet Nam during the terrible conflict that took place there decades ago.

What can be said, other than having another bright, sunny but cold day. Our road has been slippery because of the ice, and a couple of cars have run off the road. Still, if one drives slowly and carefully, there should be few problems. We bought more road salt to keep the driveway clean. Also, I am getting to use much, much less water and even brushing teeth can be done with half a glass of water. I also realize how much water is wasted in general, especially while washing dishes where the hot water is left running indefinitely. Our cats do not like to be indoors but, in weather like this, they always find a warm and sunny spot, or one that is sheltered. As a treat we gave them some special cat food to which they responded favourably.

There was an unpleasant surprise this morning when I turned on the tap; the water line had frozen, so I was without any water which makes it very difficult to have a normal life under such circumstances. Davey has tried to wrap the line and direct heat onto it, so perhaps that will produce a positive result, otherwise it will be life without water for a few days. Of course, the other two buildings have no such problem, so it is not as if the situation is hopeless. I think that John, our visitor from Colorado, is preparing supper for the crew.

Although it is still cold, there has been no new snow and, therefore, Davey came to move my car up to the parking lot. All went well, until he went up the slight rise where the car became stuck. Thomas and I hurried out and by gently pushing the car, it made it to the crest and, from there, it was simple to proceed to the parking lot. In the meantime, John had arrived from Denver, Colorado, for a visit and perhaps we can have him shovelling snow with the rest of the men. The skin cream that the monastery produces has been popular and today a new batch was prepared.

It seemed odd that there would be a car sitting in the parking lot so early in the morning, but soon we realized that Daniel had returned late last night while we were asleep and he had not yet informed us of his arrival. Later in the day another unaccounted car appeared in the parking lot and this time it was Thomas who had returned to the monastery. It felt good to have these men with us who could help, especially during this cold spell. Dima came with his father Sergey for the memorial service for his mother Valentina on this, the exact fortieth day of her repose.

It has been years since I saw so much snow and my first thought was to inform people not to come. People began phoning, asking what the road condition was like, but I had no idea. Davey drove out in his big truck and flattened the snow in the parking area and on our road, but the main road was still unplowed. By 9:30 the road had been cleared and cars began drive up our road. Despite the weather, church attendance was almost normal. We had a memorial service for George and Valentina with a memorial dinner that followed. There was time for a Meleti before the baptism of little Isabella. Those who remained prepared another meal, so we had supper at five and then gradually everyone left.

This day began so beautifully with snow falling gently, adding to the healthy amount that had accumulated overnight. And, it continued to snow throughout much of the day. Davey drove up in his truck and rode up and down our road a few times to flatten the snow drifts, and he promised to come again in the morning to do the same. This, of course, will be such a great help for us, as we ourselves are unable to do anything like that at our age. I neglected to mention that Andy came early in the morning to clear paths for us between the buildings, and it gave his dogs the chance to scurry about in the snow. Aside from these two young men, no one visited us, which is fairly unusual on a Saturday. If this snow continues, I fear that we shall have few worshippers with us tomorrow.

Although the wind did abate somewhat, what we saw this morning was snow and it has kept snowing much of the day. Anywhere one goes, there are rumblings about the snow and the complications arising from it. Little so they realize that in some parts of the country, snow arrived long ago and will remain for the next three or even four months. Many telephoned to find out if we were snowed in [no], without power [no], suffering [no], or coping [yes]. Just as Father Moses was about to free a chickadee that had flown indoors, another one almost flew in. That in itself is unusual, since chickadees thrive in the cold of winter even in the coldest parts of the country.

The wind did howl and blow with all its strength as it came down the valley, yet not farther down it abated somewhat. By late afternoon clouds came upon us from the west, the east, and then the south, but nary a one from the north, whatever that might tell us. Word has it that there will be a storm tomorrow, so we shall just have to wait and see. Upon examining our storage cupboards, I was surprised to see that there were several empty shelves which meant a quick trip into town to pick up supplies while they last, as the holiday season is upon us already. I started with 400 dinner plates, as many dessert plates, then soup bowl and other things. There was not enough room in the trunk of the car so the back seat was filled to the ceiling. At least we shall not run out of supplies for a while.

We have been receiving telephone calls from the city, wondering if we were having difficulties with the snowfall, but there has been no snow in our area---yet, although it was very thoughtful of them to be concerned about us. Andy was here to winterize a few things such as some of the water lines that can end up freezing. You must understand that we who live here on the West Coast think of us as living in a semitropical area; instead it is a semi rain forest where it can get cold. Old timers tell us of how the Fraser River used to freeze over in New Westminster and the young people would scurry over the frozen river. Not any more! Earlier this evening I was treated to the sound of a hooting owl which might not sound interesting to some, but it reminded me of my youth, living on a farm with owls hooting every night.

The bright sun deceived us into thinking that the day was very warm and, in truth, sheltered from the wind, it did feel quite warm. Still, we were abruptly reminded of our season as soon as we felt the chilly wind. The tractor was finally moved into the barn where it shall remain until spring. In previous years it could have been used to clear snow from the road, but each year seems to have less snow than the previous one. I made an inspection tour of sorts in the old church where I found an immense amount of improvement. Once the altar floor is done we shall be able to move everything into place. You might forgive me for repeating myself, but all the work that has been done in the past few weeks would have been unimaginable if it were not for the enthusiasm shown by some of our devoted friends.

The news that no one wanted to hear arrived this morning; snow was falling in Vancouver and Burnaby, so we were told. Here, farther up the Fraser Valley, where it should be colder and snowing, we had only a bit of rain. Still, the temperature is hovering just slightly above zero and it will be colder for the next few days. Ah well, this merely informs us that winter has arrived and we shall be experiencing more of this weather. Davey took his tractor home and ours will be put away in the barn tomorrow, if all goes well. We just received a copy of the most recent catalogue "Festal Creations" and it can be highly recommended for articles for the church and for personal use at a most reasonable price. If anyone is interested, please let us know so that we can send you the address.

As far as the weather is concerned, today could not have been any better, considering that it is the beginning of December. The sun shone brightly throughout the entire Liturgy and, during the Agape meal, the drapes had to be drawn to shield people's eyes from the bright sun. Even the wood burning stove was not used, for as soon as everyone walked in after the Liturgy, it became warm and comfortable. Matins began at nine in the morning and the Akathist to the Icon Joy of Canada ended at two in the afternoon, giving us five hours of prayer and fellowship. There was much discussion and enthusiasm about the renovation, and plans presented for more work to be done next year. I had to complement everyone on their behaviour during the reading of the prayers after Holy Communion, after the final dismissal, as it seemed to me at least, not a whisper was heard.

It is not at all surprising that some habits never die. One of mine it the preoccupation with the size of the prosphora for Sunday's Liturgy. Too often, it appears to be not large enough, and this is precisely what happened today. After having baked a perfectly good prosphora, my thought was that it was too small, so eventually I baked another one, a much larger one that will undoubtedly be too large. Still, in such a case, any leftover antidoron can be frozen and saved for those who wish to take home some extra pieces. Our little guardian angels flew in today and worked hard on finishing the old church. New ceiling lamps were installed and soon the floor in the altar will be finished. I expect that Misha, who arrives at the crack of dawn on Sundays, will be taken aback when he sees the railing on the long table in the hall. It had to be left there to dry and he shall have to ask someone to help him carry it out.

I dreaded the thought of finding ourselves enduring snow early next week, or even being snowbound, although that hardly seems possible, until I read how much Russians love this season, for winter brings out the best in them. I can truly appreciate their sentiment, yet spring cannot arrive soon enough. How easily I forget those hot summer days when I dreamt of winter when, if it became too cold, one simply donned an extra sweater . No doubt Liudmila, who wrote to me recently, is smiling at these words, tucked away as she is in snowy Russia. We shipped a number of our calendars today and are preparing more. Our tailless Manx cat, Stubs, is beginning to look frail, and I fear that she is succumbing to age. What a pity; she was the runt of the litter, yet she became a superb hunter, and we shall dearly miss her once she has gone.

We may lament the end of the year that is fast approaching, but at least the days will begin to lengthen soon. Ozgur spent much of the day installing the carpet on the stairs leading up to the old church and it looks splendid. There is more work left, but I am amazed at how quickly it is being completed. It will be like having a brand new monastery. I had a pleasant conversation with Larisa from Victoria, an old friend of this monastery who has visited us often, even enduring our simple ways. Her delightful voice graces our singing whenever she manages to come here. Evening has not yet arrived and I believe that there will be some filming taking place soon, so I shall have to excuse myself, for I will be the cameraman.

Can it be possible? Tomorrow is the first day of December and the entire year has almost passed. We are thankful for all that has transpired this month and we hope that the next month will be just as productive. And yes, I did thoroughly enjoy driving my car this morning with nary a care about the wet road surface, now that it has new tires. A new battery and a few other things will be dealt with next month so, in a sense, it is prepared for winter driving. Today was unusual in that no one came to visit us, other than our guest David Goa, so we did manage to tackle the usual chores that are often set aside and sometimes even forgotten.

I felt lost without my car, for Davey and Chris had taken it last night in order to give it a thorough inspection and put on new tires. They returned it this evening and it is a comfort to know that it is here, at hand, ready to be used whenever needed. We are also fortunate to have these honest friends who have helped us. What a pleasant surprise it was to see our dear friend David Goa, who has come to the coast for a few days. We have known him for over thirty years and regard him as part of the monastery family. Returning to the subject of the car, I am almost tempted to take it out for a spin right now, but I am not fond of driving in the dark, so the "spin" shall have to wait until tomorrow.

It felt like the crack of dawn, although it was slightly later, when I arose to hurry to my monthly visit to the chiropractor. I am often warned about chiropractors, since everyone has an alleged nasty personal experience, or at least has heard of one. Perhaps the most common one is where a chiropractor was too rough on a person's neck and causing a brain injury or even worse. In my lifetime I have been to at least five of them and each one was kind, gentle and most professional, although I would admit that the present one has done the most to end the constant sciatic pain I used to endure. And that is all that I have to say about this subject. A load of gravel was delivered and Davey graded the monastery road so that it once again is in decent shape without all the dangerous potholes that had been there until recently.

Today's Slavonic Liturgy brought together a large number of people, a few of whom came for the first time. Moreover, it was the first time that Dmitry read the Apostle in Church Slavonic, which he did magnificently, then Reader Markel gave the sermon in Russian, also splendidly. This youthful input is important, since we look forward to the time when younger ones will replace us. The Central Asian meal was successful, even though many dishes were not of that area. Naturally, we were spoiled by the desserts, with four large Napoleons brought from Seattle by Vera, and a fifth one she seemed to draw out of nowhere for our late afternoon gathering around the table. Then, unexpectedly, Glyko brought a large galactoburiko [?] to treat us on this last day before the beginning of the Nativity Fast.

If you can imagine yourself aboard an old sailing ship with a strong wind lashing your face wild cold rain, that is how it felt this morning, although this is somewhat of an exaggeration. In other words, the weather was not ideal until I saw a lone hummingbird hovering at the bird feeder. And to think that I had wanted to remove it a long time ago. Now it shall remain until the heavy frosts come and, by then, perhaps no hummingbirds will be left here. A number of people came to help, so there was much activity to be observed. Vladika saw several large salmon leaping out of the water, proving that the Department of Fisheries was successful in reintroducing salmon to our local streams.

How sweet and gentle was the air this morning, the sun shining brightly in its autumnal splendour, and those of us outdoors could only rejoice in this setting. Do not forget that we live on the edge of a rain forest and thus we have an abundance of both light and heavy overcast skies, both gentle rain and cloudbursts, and all we need to brighten our spirits are a few hours of sunshine. Some pious women have promised to come tomorrow to finish planting flowers and to prepare food for us. As you know, each day I pull the curtain aside so that the readers of this diary can have a glimpse of what takes place here in our monastery, and I had no idea of how many people read this diary or if, indeed, anyone bothers to read it. I was informed that there are some people in Romania who follow this diary and for them I send these words---multumesc foarte mult si noapte buna!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, if I remember correctly, and no doubt Americans are giving thanks for the end of the never-ending election campaign and possibly for its results. We, on the other hand, celebrate our Thanksgiving Day in October, really in the midst of the harvest season. There is little that I can say about this day, other than it being very cool, which keeps us indoors most of the time. Some time was spent on robes that the altar boys wear. They are in that period when they suddenly shoot up a few inches, and then the hems of the robes have to be let down or else, in other cases, the hems have to be taken up. It is hard to believe that some of these boys are already married with children. That, in itself, is not surprising but it does say something about my own age.

This morning began with a bit of sunshine, so I grabbed my trustworthy camera and began photographing the various remaining flowers that are still in bloom, and I was quite surprised to find that there were still a number of them. As well, the camellia buds look as if they are almost ready to open which, of course, they will not until February at the earliest. Davey came with more diesel for his tractor, had lunch [tasty homemade borshch], then set out to grade our road once more. Uzgar and Sorin worked on the stairs leading to the old church, so that gradually, all the areas will be newly carpeted or have porcelain tiles. Reader Irinaeus visited us with two of his friends from the Netherlands, Florus and Judith, who have been travelling all over North America and are flying back home tomorrow. We wish them Godspeed and an angel guardian on their voyage.

At last we got a number of 2017 church calendars ready which meant printing, then collating, adding front and back covers, then using the comb machine to bind them and, lastly, punching holes for hanging them on the wall. Still, I cannot exaggerate the importance of this calendar, as it shows one the Apostle and Gospel readings for each day of the month, the tone of the week, the Matins Gospel reading, which saints are commemorated, which days are fast free and which are not, and more. Although it is a headache to produce it, the result is certainly worth all the trouble.

The weather was perfect today; periods of sun followed by a light overcast sky, with the air smelling almost springlike. And, of all times, I did not think of taking my faithful camera to take some photographs. One might wonder what there is of interest at this time of year, yet we still have a beautiful chrysanthemum outside, some snap dragons, regal pansies, and a couple of helebores that have opened up when usually they come to life in January. Even catkins have appeared on some of the trees. It is not that we try to hang on to memories of summer, no, on the contrary, these are signs of new life that we look forward to each winter. An unexpected surprise was the grading of our monastery road by Davey, who came out with his tractor to deal with the many potholes that had developed.

Another Sunday---another joyous Liturgy. As usual, I was scarcely awake when I heard Misha driving up, which in itself is not surprising, since he rises about four o'clock each morning. Reader Markel was away on Vancouver Island, but we managed quite well. At the end of the service "Many Years" was sung for my nameday yesterday and for all the Michaels who will celebrate their nameday tomorrow. It was somewhat chilly in the hall and the first fire of the season was started in the stove, giving us great comfort during the meal. Vera was here from Seattle and thus we knew that there would be an enormous treat for everyone. She did not disappoint us when we saw her four huge tortes that were true patisserie delicacies. Our friend Davey, who engages in selling cars and trucks was here, and a huge birthday cake was brought out for him, a cake decorated with miniature cars and trucks---very appropriate.

On this day we celebrate the memory of Saint Varlaam of Khutyn, my patron saint, and I would like to thank the countless messages of congratulations I received. I am amazed that so many of the readers of this Daily Diary remember when my nameday falls. There was a large turnout for Vespers, as we also had a memorial service for which a number of people came. On top of that, Sorin and Georgeta worked here most of the day, really giving up their weekend to complete the carpeting and other work as quickly as possible. Tomorrow Sasha will leave for the RCMP Academy in Regina and we all wish him success and Godspeed.

Although it has turned chilly, some of the men coming here are still in their short sleeved shirts which makes me shudder, since I feel the cold much more than they do. We have several men called Sasha, and one of them came to look at the commodes in the washrooms at the end of the corridor. He hopes to provide us with new ones in the near future, while others are still working on the carpet.

This has been a day when nothing significant has happened. Usually some thing of interest or of importance occurs, yet nothing has been so today. Still, work is continuing in the old church and that is, of course of great significance. We were saddened to see the little shrine near the monument knocked over, possibly by someone backing up into it. I doubt that it had been done on purpose, still it was sad to see it uprooted. We shall have to replace the pole and move it slightly more out of the way to avoid another such incident.

I drove to Maple Ridge to bless a house that happens to be just a stone's throw from Elia and Gerasimos so, after blessing the house, I dropped by and saw Gerasimos but did not stay for tea, as there was much that had to be done at the monastery. Some of our volunteers, Sorin, Markel and Raisa, showed up to paint the ceiling of the old church which they are doing at this very moment. It is difficult to realize how much has been accomplished in such a short period. I sent an email to Desert Hills Ranch to inquire about their sweet white onions that we have cherished so much only to be informed that they are closing for the season and so we shall not have any of them until next year. Never in my lifetime have I tasted such sweet onions that we enjoy as sandwiches. If you are interested in knowing what makes these sandwiches so special, let me know and I will let you in on the secret.

It had been a long night for some of the people who read the Psalter all night beside the coffin of Valentina, many of them taking turns in having a bit of a nap, then reading again. We were pleased to have Father Michael of the Holy Resurrection Sobor come to serve the funeral with us. The service proceeded beautifully with Dima, Valentina's son, doing some of the reading. A meal followed, it having been provided by some women who also spent part of the night preparing a vast array of food. We then drove to the Port Coquitlam cemetery and, along the way, endured a downpour of almost torrential proportions. During the graveside service the rain stopped and we were offered a respite from the deluge.

A number of obstacles had to be overcome, the worst of which was a dire message about a virus that had attacked the computer. I am really a novice with all this, but Vladika informed me that it was all trickery and to be avoided, which, in the end, we did. All is working splendidly now. Sorin came after work to continue painting, thinking that he might even spend the night here. At the same time we had a memorial service, or panikhida, for Valentina who was brought here this evening. People have stayed on to read the Psalter at the coffin that will remain in the church overnight. Others are in the kitchen, preparing food for the meal after the funeral, and some expect to sleep here tonight, taking turns in reading the Psalter.

A few people were absent today, having gone to Seattle, the nearest place where they could vote in the Moldovan election run off, taking place today. Sorin became the main reader which enabled him to lead in the Matins service. As expected, he did well, but one can sympathize with him for the responsibility placed on him. Some saw the new carpet for the first time and were pleased with it, and there was a good response to a request for donations for the new carpeting that will be done in the old church and the refectory. It is interesting to observe how one action can easily lead to another, as long as there is enthusiasm. Someone brought three or four dozen roses a couple of weeks ago, and I wondered why they looked so fresh, only to discover that they are artificial, although never have such realistic artificial flowers been seen. To bewilder us, they were put into clear vases with water, giving the appearance of fresh roses. Gone are the days of cheap plastic flowers.

Sorin and Georgetaa arrived early this morning to paint the old church. They, with others, worked here yesterday removing the old carpet and repairing the floor. Now, they removed all the icons and nails or whatever had been used to hang the icons, and filled the holes. The paint chosen was the same as in the hall, a pale ochre which blends beautifully with the woodwork of the iconstas. It is touching that they gave up a free day to do this work, but there is more to be done next week and even in the forthcoming weeks.

We celebrate Remembrance Day each 11 November when Canadians remember those who have fallen in battle during all the wars in the past century, including those who worked, volunteered, and who were wounded both physically and psychologically, It reminds u of how much we long for peace, while the world around us carries on its war mongering. A ninth day memorial service was held for Valentina and a memorial meal followed. How good it was to see the women coming forth to prepare all the food for the meal. The actual funeral will take place on Tuesday 15 November. Some people stayed on to work on planting flowers and shrubs in preparation for next year. The men took out the carpeting in the old church which will be replaced by a new one next week. I am amazed at how quickly volunteers appeared to help with this work, and may the Lord bless them for their enthusiasm.

The entire morning was spent in a hospital waiting room and, when the doctor saw me, he decided that I should return in spring when he might try some procedure. That suited me, although the long wait was not that enjoyable. Still, I had a copy of the National Geographic Magazine with me and, much to my surprise, I found a number of typographical errors in it, as well as grammatical errors, something I did not expect from a publication of that quality. As they say, "Things jest ain't what they used to be!" Dragan finished the area in front of the fireplace and I hope that we shall be able to walk on it tomorrow for the memorial meal.

I was relieved yesterday with the election in the US having ended, but I see that campaigning, or planning, for the next election has already begun. Will we ever be freed from all that? It has been warm all day and the air was fresh and fragrant until the afternoon when our nearby farmers began spreading slurry [liquid cow manure] in their fields. That is the price for living in the country! The Swiss chard in Vladika's raised bed is amazingly luxuriant and succulent, looking much better than its neighbouring kale, although the planting of a few popcorn seeds was not very successful.

It is election day in the U.S. and the results are not confirmed yet, but what a relief to know that it is finally over. After months and months of campaigning, it has become worse than a soap opera. We thought that last year's federal election in Canada, which lasted two months, was too long, but it made much more sense than our neighbours who have had to endure it for almost two years. In fact, it seems to be a perpetual campaign. It is little wonder that people become disillusioned and angry. Crossing the border was simple this afternoon, perhaps because everyone was busy voting!

At last the calendar has been completed and the very last error has been taken care of [the removal of a semicolon after a Gospel reading]. Perhaps there are other errors that somehow crept in, but we have so far not noticed any. Now the calendar can be printed, collated, spined and then be ready for sale and distribution. It is such a relief to reach this point, thanks to Jon who has helped us immensely with it. Philip came to clean out our vehicles and did such a splendid job that I could scarcely recognize the interiors. He is very professional about it.

We wondered if anyone would come earlier than usual because of the time change and, indeed, some did arrive before we even began Matins. We began at nine o'clock in the morning and ended about two in the afternoon. Let me explain why this is so. Matins lasts one hour, followed the the Liturgy ending at about eleven forty five, but today we had a memorial litany and the abbreviated healing service, after which prayers after Communion were read. The Agape meal lasted at least forty five minutes, then the Meleti, or spiritual talk, and the Akathist to the Joy of Canada Icon of the Theotokos. All this brings us together and spiritually unites us so that when we leave, there should be a feeling of peace: "Let us depart in peace!"

Markel and Sorin spent much of the day adding finishing touches to the hall such as painting and installing base boards. The main door had not been touched since we moved here some twenty five years ago, and the interior side was still damaged from a much earlier fire so that the wood was so dry that it sucked up the paint like a sponge and it needed three or four coats of paint. Lija and Anna came to clean up and stayed to make supper for all of us. It feels as if people are spoiling us by doing so much for us, but we are extremely grateful for their help.

It was disappointing not being able to cross the border today, as there were two long lines at the commercial crossing which meant at least a sixty or seventy minute wait. Instead we went back to Abbotsford to tend to some errands and then returned to the border only to find a new double line up. Perhaps Monday or Tuesday will prove to be better. Dima and his father Sergey came for a memorial service for Valentina, the former's mother and the latter's wife who reposed in the Lord last night. Please remember her in your prayers, as she suffered for some time and will be missed by everyone. We still do not know when the funeral will take place.

Just a few hours of sun and we forget about all the rain. I used a special substance to treat the large wound on the Turkish fig tree. A couple of years ago a large lower branch broke off and I thought that I had repaired the damage, but for the winter I used a special substance to cover the wound. While doing that I noticed several figs that looked ripe and, knowing that they will not ripen any more, I ate three or four of them and, actually, they were quite edible. More than anything, it was pleasant to think that now, in early November, figs could be plucked off the branches and eaten right on the spot. Two beautiful runner rugs were donated last week and then taped together, but that was not eintrely satisfactory, so I began to sew them together. Not having the correct curved needle on me, I had to leave this for another day.

I found it difficult to find any fragrance suitable for the skin cream we prepare here at the monastery, so I had to drop in at many stores and, in the end, buying other things. The last stop was at Walmart which proved to be an experience. I used to wonder why people would, at times, speak pejoratively of this company and today I found out why. I would recommend it highly as a place to study human nature in its various manifestations. Dragan came early in the morning to finish the flooring in the main entrance area and he will be back later to lay tiles in front of the fireplace. Both he and his wife are the kindest people one could ever hope to meet. Meanwhile Lija came to work in the kitchen and to prepare food for us so that we can be freed of this task.

Two months are left before this year ends and one wonders where the time has gone. After working on the 2017 calendar for so long, it would seem that all is ready for printing, yet one last proofing had to be done and, indeed, four or five minor errors were found that had to be corrected, and who knows if others were missed. I think that we shall print many more this year and send out complimentary copies to various parishes. We really do not advertise them, but if any reader wishes to have a copy, please let us know. We have sold them in the past for $8.00 each and I think that it is a bargain, considering all the information that they provide not just for the ordinary person, but even for readers on the kliros. The sun has been out much of the day, giving us all that autumnal golden glow.

The last day of October brings out all the goblins and children getting 10,000 calories of sweets. We are fortunate in that no one comes to us, possibly because of the long road leading across the fields to the monastery and the total darkness surrounding us. We cannot, however, escape the evening fireworks. This afternoon I encountered a woman whose father I had known in the early 1960s and we did spend time reminiscing about "the old times." The older one gets, the more of old times one can recall. Andrew flew out of the Abbotsford Airport this morning, ending his brief visit to British Columbia, one that was much enjoyed by us and also by those who remember him from "the old times!!"

This week been busy with renovations, painting, new carpet and cleaning. Some people from our sister community, Holy Resurrection Sobor, came and helped in all the activity. We are so grateful for the bond of love and fellowship between the monastery and Holy Resurrection Sobor. Many of the people who come here on the last Sunday of the month are member of the Holy Resurrection Sobor Parish and our Dean, Fr Michael is always so supportive of the work and efforts of the monastery. In addition to all the work that took place during the week and on Saturday, today can be remembered as almost a feast day, as far as attendance is concerned with people filing into the church as soon as the Hours were begun to be read. Twice they had to be asked to more forward to keep those at the back from being crushed and to make room around the door for others to enter. Also, the line for confessions seemed to be endless. Vladika Lazar fell ill during the Liturgy and I had to step in before Communion and finish the Liturgy. Vladika had to be helped by two of the men to go from the church to his quarters. His health has been weakening for sometime now. We had prayers for travel and a memorial litany after the reading of prayers after Communion. The hall and refectory were crowded and some people had to sit on the stairs and I do not know where else. The hall and refectory combined will only seat about 75 people, and on some Sundays this is just not enough seating for the Agape. We served an Akathist to Blessed Xenia of Petersburg in the old church (the “Chapel of the Relcs�), later relaxing in the hall where some activists, if I may call them that, had plans for tiling part of the floor, as Dragan volunteered to do that, and several others had repair and renovation plans for the future.

What a busy day this has been. The first to arrive was Sasha together with his father who just recently came to Canada for a visit from Ukraine. They quickly spread out sheets to cover the furniture in the refectory and began painting the room, but first they had to remove the paper decorative strip on the walls up against the ceiling. At least three other groups of people drove up, one after another, to help in cleaning and planting flowers which did not happen because of the heavy rain. Still, much was accomplished and we also had a late afternoon meal [was it late lunch or early dinner?] followed by Vespers, a memorial service and special prayers for the ill. I almost forgot to mention that we had a triple baptism late this morning for Paula, Victor and Michael. Paula [or Evgenia] was to be the godmother but, since had never been baptized, we baptized her first, then the fifteen year old Victor, who looks almost like a grown adult, and his two year old brother Michael. Although they are Russians from Kazakhstan, their names are Korean---Kim, Tsoy, Pak, etc. A relative from Kirghizstan flew in for the baptism. We are fortunate to have such multinational Orthodox Christians coming to the monastery.

I was made aware of an error that appeared on the Constant Contact message sent out yesterday. I believe it began with..."On Sunday 28 October..." which is an obvious error since today is 28 October. Yet, most people should have realized that the date was wrong and mentally corrected it. Still, some did notice it and let us know. Thanks for that---at least we know that some people are reading it. I wanted to rearrange some little thing in the Altar and, as what so often happens, one thing followed another until the entire space was cleaned up and rearranged. It reminded me of the Southern Spiritual about "dem dry bones" where the hip bone is connected to the knee bone and so on. At any rate, the entire holy space is spic and span with everything in its proper place. I wish I could be that diligent about everywhere else here at the monastery.

Our foot operated stapler, heavy and ofttimes unwieldy, rebelled the other day, but it appears that it might be repaired soon. It has served us for at least forty years and perhaps might last for forty more. They simply do not make them like this any more, and is that not what we so often say about many thing? "They are not like they used to be!" No doubt there is some truth in that, for we live in a throw away age. The Michaelmas daisies are opening up as they do in mid autumn and even the fuchsias are still showing their beauty. Today I noticed, for the first time, two green coloured hummingbirds flying near the Trinity Cross. The ones that visit the feeder all summer are of a completely different colour, not so colourful as these. We also saw V formations of geese flying north, but are they not supposed to be flying south for the winter? Is this due to climate change, or are they simply lost?

I did not sleep well last night, perhaps because our bear kept sighing, grunting and murmuring outside my bedroom window much of the night. It did not bother me knowing that it was just a few feet away from me, but my sleep was disturbed. Still, how many readers of this diary can claim to have a bear so close by all night? Alas, the hummingbird feeder had to be taken down, as there are only a few birds left and we shall have to await their return next spring. We ran out of baptism forms used for information to be transferred to the Metrical Book, and so I made a few dozen copies, enough to last for a while. Lija and her husband came bearing gifts, that is, more rugs for the church, so that two of them were joined to make a long runner. They also brought food and served us a splendid supper. I must admit that sometimes I do not mind being spoiled this way.

This has been rather an ordinary day, but we did make a trip to Chilliwack to bless the newly acquired condo of a dear friend of the monastery. It felt pleasant driving through this charming city as many memories were brought to mind. It is at least twenty-five years since we moved away from that area, yet countless memories continue to linger. A car stopped in the middle of the street with a couple of people rushing out to greet us, not having seen us in all these years. On the return trip I suddenly thought that my keys must have been lost in Chilliwack and that meant returning to search for them. After pulling over to the shoulder of the road and searching diligently through the car, it suddenly dawned on me that they were where they had been all along, in the pocket of my jacket on the back seat. What a relief that was, and the rest of the trip home was more enjoyable than ever.

A strong easterly wind blew through the valley, bringing us some cooler weather but cleaning and refreshing the air, making it feel like late autumn. While doing some monastery shopping this morning, I found a super bargain in the Superstore: Brussels sprouts priced at thirty eight cents per pound, quite a bargain indeed. And, since we live in a small community, word spread quickly. Our local plumber was excited to hear this, as was our local librarian and many others as well. I almost expected them to rush to the store immediately, but they had to wait until after work before descending on the store. Yes, we did have Brussels sprouts for supper together with some mushrooms our neighbour gathered nearby. If no more daily diaries appear, you can assume that the mushrooms were of the wrong variety.

Sunday, 23 October, 2016
By seven thirty this morning, I could see that Misha had not arrived; I telephoned him to discover that he had a sciatic nerve problem and was hesitant to drive to the monastery. This meant that we had to hurry with the tasks that he usually fulfills. On the way to church, I peeked into the workshop to see what the men had done yesterday. It rather looked as if the Huns and Scythians had invaded and run off with almost everything. Outside was an enormous pile of rubbish and junk that had been tossed out to bring some order to the workshop. We had a great Liturgy with a super sermon given by Reader Irenee. After the Agape and Meleti, a Moleben was served in the old church where a large crowd had gathered. Everyone seemed to be pleased with the new carpeting which not only looks good, but is easy to vacuum and clean if anything is spilled. The entrance and area in front of the fireplace will be tiled to complete the hall renovation. We spent five hours from the beginning of the first service until the end of the last one, leaving us filled with blessed joyousness.

What an unusual day this has been. I had forgotten to bake a prosphora yesterday, so it had to be done early this morning before all the volunteers appeared. I have lost track of the people who came, but it seems that Sorin was here first, then Uzker came with the carpet but first a glue had to be spread over the entire floor. Others came and they began to clear out the workshop that had become cluttered, clearing it of useless things. I suddenly had to make a hospital visit, so I cannot be certain who was here, but I do know that it was a large group of people so that by the time I returned the carpeting was installed and Vespers was being served. It was good to have Andrew Bingham singing with us, just as he had done so many hears ago while still a teenager. A big supper was prepared by the women and we all ate heartily. All in all, this was a most productive day that has encouraged us to carry on with more improvements in the monastery, and thanks to all who worked so hard!

Markel, Sorin and Nicolae descended on the monastery today with a full load of plywood to cover the floor in the large hall. While removing part of the stone fountain, rotten wood was found, meaning that a large section of the floor had to be removed. As in most cases, nothing is as simple as it looks. They are hurrying to complete this stage, as tomorrow the carpeting will be laid, in time for the Sunday Agape meal. It is amazing to see the energy that these young men have when I usually have to move about with a cane. Bless them all for their enthusiasm. Cute little Vadim was baptized this morning with just a couple of cries, but many smiles.

With Vladika Lazar back, we were soon at our regular routines and enjoying the presence of our guest Andrew Bingham. I cannot even recall how many years have passed since Andrew spent some time with us, just when a Chinese television crew appeared to make a movie of the monastery and in which Andrew was interviewed. It was a remarkable film with Chinese subtitles and it might even be found on You Tube, something that I have not tried to locate, as did another movie "India--Land of the Tigers" which was shown in IMAX theatres and can still be found on You Tube.

Vladika Lazar returned from a trip to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan accompanied by Andrew Bingham, son of Father John Bingham, rector of Holy Trinity Church in Moose Jaw. Vladika was very pleased with the visit and the warm reception he received there. Daniel will be away for a couple of days , so Sasha and Andrew will have to replace him with the task of washing dishes, which is not really that much of a task. The hall looks barren with everything removed and even the stone fountain was partly demolished because it protruded too much into the passageway and was completely useless. We can scarcely wait for the installation of the new carpeting.

Markel arrived mid morning to remove the carpet in the main hall, but first he had to remove all the tables and chairs and carry them out onto the balcony. By mid afternoon Sorin came after his work day ended and both of them had to remove hundreds and hundreds of staples and to clear the floor for the carpeting. Galina and Uzger brought samples of the carpet tiling that looks wonderful. Meantime, Leah and Anna came bringing food to prepare for supper. Eventually we all sat down to eat and drank a glass of wine, as in many monasteries it was, and perhaps still is, the custom to have a glass of wine after a day's special work.

Even though it showered off and on during the day, by late afternoon the sun came out tinting the landscape in a soft golden colour against the clouds that ranged in colour from steel grey to deep blue. It was one of those perfect afternoon scenes that can be found only on the West Coast. The day passed quietly and I got my annual flu shot. Despite what some people say against these shots, I have had them for at least thirty five years and, in that period, I have never once had the flu. Perhaps the shots have nothing to do with this absence, but I am in no way anxious to forego them.

The terrible storm that wast to have hit us never did arrive and so, our fears were unfounded, much to our relief. It did rain off and on, but there was no wind and no power outage. Still, a few stayed home, worried about the possible storm. Once again, the singing was exceptionally good. Meanwhile, Vladika Lazar is in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where he served at the Holy Trinity Church and where he is giving a series of talks. The rector of the the church, Father John Bingham and his family are very dear friends of ours and I know that Vladika was pleased to be there with them. There was talk and planning for the new carpet for the great hall and the old church. How good it is to see enthusiasm and to sense the feeling of involvement.

We survived last night's storm and the power outage, yet there is to be an even possibly stronger storm tonight. I wonder if that means another outage; we will see. Sasha had problems with his vehicle so he did not come to paint the refectory still, Monica came in the morning and a bevy of women came later in the day to help and to feed us after Vespers. Leah brought two exquisite rugs to place under the large candle stands. They look oriental, Persian and, at the same time, ecclesiastical. She has promised to bring a matching long runner for the centre of the church. It was touching to hear them say, "The monastery is our second home, a spiritual home, so we should look after it." All I can add to that is---Amen.

Actually, this entry is being written on Saturday morning, as we had a major power outage that lasted more than ten hours and thus, nothing could be done at that time. The morning began with the service of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos but, because of the inclement weather, we expected no one to come. To our surprise many did come for this wonderful feast. After the abundant lenten meal, most quickly left, as it was a working day, and we were soon visited by Vasile and Lenutsa from Edmonton who brought us more candles and picked up the candle stubs that had accumulated over the months. It was during their visit that the outage happened and so, we were mostly in darkness [physical] until the middle of the night.

To leave the monastery property, we had to use our neighbour's bridge, as the Department of Fisheries had sent a huge excavator to dig up our road and install a large culvert. It took less than about three hours for all the work to be done and now the water level can be controlled better, but a problem with the beavers will always remain. The workmen did promise to come again to work on the stream closest to the monastery buildings. Another problem is with the manure that is spread by the dairy farmers which leads to an overabundance of nitrogen which, in turn, affects the grass and plants nearby. At least the department officials are aware of this problem and they hope do something about it.

The changes in weather have affected us, as we are beginning to have the sniffles. On the other hand, it was an unexpected surprise to receive a parcel from India and, upon opening it, we saw the second volume of the Big World History Encyclopedia to which Vladika Lazar was a contributor and whose essay was included in it. I have not yet had a chance to examine it carefully, but it looks most interesting. The reason it arrived from India is because it had been printed there, rather than in China where much printing is being done. I would recommend buying it, although it is more than $75 US. We sent out two messages on our new Constant Contact and already have had positive responses.

This has been the kind of day when nothing much seems to have happened, although we were kept busy, yet nothing much stands out. Some complementary letters were received which is always encouraging. We have noticed that many of the oak trees have had their leaves turning red, creating a beautiful sight. We do not have the colourful maples that are found in the eastern part of the country, so we enjoy these oaks and the fields of blueberries where the leaves are also red. On that note, it is time to retire for the night.

MONDAY 10 0CT0BER 2016
If you have missed the past three or four entries of the Daily Diary, I apologize. They have appeared elsewhere but not on the main website. I hope that they will appear regularly again. After the busy weekend it was nice to have a quiet day, although a group of people did appear mid afternoon to work outdoors and inside as well. Such help is truly appreciated, as there is much to do in preparation for winter, not that it will be here for some time yet. In addition to our adventures with the bear, we now have a gigantic beaver to deal with, as it is trying to block the culvert. My understanding is that the Department of Fisheries is planning to put in a wide culvert to prevent any blockage, but we will see if anything comes of that.

Both newly tonsured readers, Sorin and Dmitri, took part in reading during the Liturgy and we look forward to their participation in the future. After the Agape meal and the spiritual talk, we served a Moleben of Thanksgiving in the old church for which more than two dozen people came, many having left earlier after the meal. What fond memories we had, serving in this church and remembering how we served there many years ago with a smaller group of people, and how we had to more to the much larger church. Once again, Vera came from Seattle with three large chocolate roulades, each one more than two feet long, all decorated with fresh raspberries. She does know how to spoil us, but we really do not mind.

It was a tremendous shock for us to learn of the repose of Archimandrite Alexander just as we were looking forward to his greater involvement in the Canadian Archdiocese. He was beloved by all and this loss will be felt by all of us. Let us pray for the repose of his soul and remember all that he had accomplished and how much of it affected us individually. May his memory be eternal! We were tired by the end of this day, after having three separate baptisms and I was surprised at how many people came for Vespers. In the afternoon, a car drove up to take water from the Holy Well and they left bags and bags of food for us: as the saying goes, when it rains, it pours.

It has turned cool, so I picked the ripest figs and brought them to the kitchen, as I do not know if the others will ripen. Yesterday's visitors brought us so much food that we can survive for a few days without preparing anything. I am pleased that our Constant Contact is almost complete and, once in operation, we shall be able to inform everyone on the list about events taking place at the monastery. Daniel is still under the weather, but Sasha has been busy folding, stapling and cleaning in the konak. I get a thrill every time I walk past the Trinity Cross that was blessed last Sunday. Set upright on a huge rock and surrounded by flowers, it brings such peace and tranquility to all passersby, reminding us how fortunate we are in having such dedicated people willing to make this beautiful cross.

All of have been busy with tasks that have either been put aside for a while, or were deemed unnecessary at this point in time. Many booklets and pamphlets were folded and stapled, a task that is not exciting in the least but very necessary. Our phones have been ringing constantly, with advice for the three baptisms to take place on Saturday, with wrong numbers and so forth. Elena came a while ago for prayers for travel and she stumbled upon the bear, and was able to take a couple of photos of him. She also brought plenty of food so that nothing will have to be prepared for supper.

As I was walking back to my place this morning, I noticed the bear on the lawn, but he seemed to want to ignore me, as I had ignored him. A few minutes later, while I was inside, I heard the door open slowly and I could picture the bear walking in, so I cautiously stepped out to see if he really had come in, only to discover that I had not shut the door tightly and the breeze opened it. Needless to say, I quickly closed it. We crossed the border to mail books in the U.S. then had the most pleasant surprise on the return crossing where we were the only vehicle in the lineup [or lack of a lineup]. Usually we have to sit and wait, often in the wrong lane as others get ahead of us, but today's crossing was as simple as sit could be and the border official [Canadian] was friendly and even joked with us.

It was a happy moment when I handed over the 2017 calendar to Jonathan for its final correction, even though there were few of them, still they had to be made and he will, I hope, have them completed by the end of this week. If so, the printing can begin any time. This year we hope to made many extra calendars and, if anyone is interest in obtaining one, please let us know. It contains not just the saint for the day but also the liturgical information that is needed at each reading stand. The two groups of young people have left and it is very quiet throughout the monastery.

We are so grateful to Archbishop Irenee for his visit to our monastery, and also to all those who have worked so hard these past few Saturdays in cleaning, polishing, weeding and everything else to 'spruce up' the monastery. Also, thanks for the women who prepared all the food, those who gave us a family concert and for all those who were present for the memorable event. Indeed, those who worked hard in carving the Troitsa cross and who wish to remain anonymous, although we all know who they are, are to be thanked for their creative work. Today has been different, with some of our local friends dropping in and helping us to consume the leftover food. I spent hours working on the last proofing of the 2017 calendar and there is only one month left to check. Once the corrections are made, it can go to press and be available much earlier this year than in previous years.

This has been an amazing day with Archbishop Irenee concelebrating the Divine Liturgy here at the monastery. There was an excellent turnout and everyone was thrilled with the visit of our ruling hierarch. Perhaps he might have been perplexed with some of our customs and the warm form of reception some of our people offer, but as a Russian saying tells us, each monastery has its own typicon. An informal "family concert" was given at the end of the Agape meal, during which many of us joined in with the singing. The day ended with the Akathist to the Joy of Canada. A group of enthusiasts took upon themselves the task of choosing a new carpet for the great hal , the stairs and the old church. It is so encouraging to see such enthusiasm.

Although the morning began rather slowly, the afternoon was hectic with a large group of helpers working both indoor and outside, preparing for Sunday's service with Archbishop Irenee who arrived here later in the afternoon. It is such a delight and pleasure to have him here with us, as many having been waiting for this visit. He arrived during the Vespers service which was followed by a supper. He has had a busy and exhausting stay here in British Columbia with no time to rest, so we hope that he has a good rest tonight here in the wilderness, so to speak.

Our monastery road was blocked for part of the morning as the tree cutters brought down a limb from a giant cottonwood tree. It had to be dealt with because in a severe storm it could come down on the power line. After it was cut into sections another tree, this time behind the main buildings was also brought down as it, too, could could damage in a storm. Eventually we will have more wood for the stove in the hall, as long as someone chops it all. Daniel spoke to some people who came from the Department of Fisheries who told him that they were pleased with the dredging they had done, and now it is possible to canoe from the monastery all the way to Hatzic Lake, not that I want to try doing it.

The tree man phoned to say that he would be here tomorrow to cut down some trees, in particular those that might tear down our power line in a storm. This is good news, as we have been waiting for over a month for him to arrive. Major cleaning has begun for the weekend, as sawdust settled everywhere while work was being done in the belfry. Carol, the post mistress, told me that our neighbour has had between 12 and 15 bears in his cornfield and they have actually destroyed more by trampling and wallowing than by eating the corn. By contrast, our little bear has not been so destructive.

Vladika drove James, our visitor from California, to the Bellingham Airport for his flight back to San Diego. One of the highlights of the visit was stumbling upon the bear, something that seldom happens with visitors. It reminded me of visitors who came a few years ago from Saskatchewan and who had hoped to see wildlife along the way. While crossing the Rocky Mountains, they saw not a single moose, elk, bear, sheep or any wild life but for a couple of squirrels. How disappointing it was for them. Yet, while driving the same route shortly later, others could hardly escape the wildlife around them. You can never know what might, or might not, appear.

Today's Liturgy for the feast of the Elevation of the Cross was served quietly with a small gathering of people. The ladies had to leave immediately after the service, but they left us lenten borsch, buckwheat kasha with mushrooms, and a fruit compote, all of which was perfect for a strict meal. James, our visitor from California, got to see our little bear tonight, no doubt pleasing him immensely [James, not the bear] as he is leaving tomorrow [not the bear]. Andy with his crew would like to finish the interior of the belfry soon, before the weekend and the visit of Archbishop Irenee,

When I got to the chiropractic clinic, I found out that my doctor is away and his replacement was to work on me, not that there is much to be done. Basically, I have to lie on a narrow bed, get bound tightly around the torso and then get hooked up to a machine that stretches me. No, it is not painful but, on the contrary, very useful. This time, though, the replacement could not quite figure out what had to be done, so I had to coach him and I cannot say if it was done properly, but let us hope so. The visitors who came this afternoon stumbled upon the bear and they took several photos of him. I hope that the readers of this diary do not get tired of all these reports of the bear, but he is a cute little thing [well, maybe not all that little]. We had a quiet service tonight and are ready for tomorrow's feast of the Elevation of the Cross.

Vladika Lazar did not feel well, so I drove alone to serve with Archbishop Irenee at the Holy Resurrection Sobor in Vancouver. The altar was filled with clergy and servers and the church was filled to capacity and even overflowing. How pleasant it was to see so many familiar faces, but I must admit that I felt weak at times and did not participate as fully as I could have. Still, the service was grand with a procession outside and a banquet in the church hall. Because of this service, many of our regulars were at church in Vancouver, but I was told that the attendance here was more than satisfactory. Next Sunday Vladika Irenee will be serving here with us.

Only two could come for this Saturday's work party but they managed to accomplish a good deal of work. Later a carload of people came from Victoria for Vespers and they are going to spend the night here before going to church in Vancouver tomorrow morning, Also, James came from Los Angeles to spend a few days here, this being his first visit to Canada, as I understand. Some of the visitors were thrilled to see the young bear scampering across the lawn to his hiding place behind my house, not that it makes me feel comfortable with him crooning under my window!

The light drizzle did not bother us as we went out to look at the cross that was erected last evening. It was awesome, in the fullest sense, embedded in a huge flat rock outside the church and in the little garden. The carving done by Vlad Strimbu is beautiful and the painting of Christ crucified and the icon of the Theotokos Joy of Canada done by Doina Strimbu is equally beautiful. Vlad's brother Vladimir and his son Dan helped to erect the cross which will be one of the outdoor highlights of the monastery. There will be a lesser blessing of the cross next week on the feast of the Elevation of the Cross and a greater blessing the following Sunday when Archbishop Irenee will be serving with us. As well, yesterday's crew erected a smaller concrete Serbian cross on a gigantic boulder beside the ramp, given to Vladika Lazar and, although we did not succeed in having it ready for last week's feast of the 700,000 Orthodox Serbs murdered in the 1940s for their faith, it shall be a reminder to all in future years.

We celebrated the feast of the Birth of the Theotokos today with a number of people present, including a young man who came for the first time. The ramp was covered in sawdust, something we neglected to notice, as Andy had been working on the belfry and had to use the ramp for sawing boards. A quick sweep with the broom got rid of most of it before anyone had even arrived. Everyone stayed for the Agape meal, about twenty of us, and after a brief rest, we served an Akathist to the Theotokos, this being her feast day. A lot of noise came from the top of our road and we soon discovered that the Department of Fisheries had sent out a gigantic backhoe to clear the stream of the invading grass. If not this year, then surely by next autumn some of the tens of thousands of fingerlings that were put into the stream should come back to spawn.

I drove Vladika Lazar to the eye specialist this morning, thinking that he would be given special eye drops that would prevent him from driving, but instead they simply took a simple test and asked him to arrange for a future visit. This specialist is Coptic and treats us royally. When I went to examine the state of our fig trees, I found half a dozen ripe figs on the Turkish fig tree, with only green ones on the Greek tree. This has been a disappointing year for our figs, someone claiming that the early soil temperature had an adverse effect, not allowing the first crop to mature. This second crop might ripen if it stays warm for the next couple of weeks. Vlad and his family are here at present putting up the three metre cross that he had made and carved. I have not seen what they did, so perhaps I can report on it tomorrow.

A torrential downpour last night could have made us think that summer has completely vanished, yet today has been warm and sunny. I hope that the readers of these diary entries do not tire of these seemingly "weather reports". We had another power outage that lasted less than a couple of hours but was a real bother, just as Vlad came to work on the foundation of the cross that he is going to erect on a large stone next to the church. At the same time, four Georgian men came to work on the back entrance which they completed quickly, not being bothered by the outage, using hand saws instead of power or table saws. Where there is a will there is a way. We are very pleased that so many people have volunteered to work on tasks that have not been completed or that need attention.

Due to the power outage yesterday I was unable to put up an entry for the Daily Diary, so it was done today, and now I am adding today's entry, not that I have much to relate. I believe that Andy is working on finishing the interior of the belfry, something that no one can see, but which we see every time we step out to ring the bells. The entire first floor smells of fresh paint which, in itself, is not objectionable and acts as a reminder for all of us to maintain everything in as good a condition as possible. Although we do receive the occasional cranky message or letter, on the whole, they are positive and helpful, and today's message from Mount Athos was especially touching,

We were to serve a Slavonic Liturgy today and thus there was no need to hurry as the Hours were to be read instead of the usual Matins. God willing, we shall have more readers in the future and then we can hope to have a full Matins service in Church Slavonic. Reader Markel was not back from the Okanagan, so Raisa took his place and did much of the reading. Attendance was good with several visitors from Washington and others from the Okanagan. As Vladika Lazar did not feel well today, there was no Meleti but that did not mean that everyone lingered on at the Agape, for many went to the reception room to look at what had been laid out for people to take. Actually, I have not yet looked to see how much was taken, but I hope that most of the things have gone. We then served an Akathist to the Kazan Theotokos before this icon that Gigla had sent to us from Georgia. At about four o'clock we had a power outage and, although it was still qutie light, candles eventually were brought out. The outage lasted for about four hours, but I excused myself and went to rest. Fortunately I have a small propane stove so that I could heat a bit of water for a cup of hot chocolate to have with crackers and cheese. Much later in the evening there was a second power outage that lasted only a couple of hours. Such is life in the wilderness! We are fortunate to have a group of women who are dedicated to helping us and one of them, Natasha, is a splendid organizer who has brought many people to the church. When the Georgians offered their assistance while yet at the Agape, Natasha was quick to ask them if they could finish the back entrance which is in poor condition, and they reacted positively, bless their souls. During the first outage, while I was sitting at my table, there was a sudden rustling sound and, as I looked out, there was our friend the bear, trying to reach the last of the grapes. I carefully opened the sliding door and took a few photos of it and, just as it came closer to me, the batteries died in the camera and so I missed what could have been the best photos.

This has been a most unusual day for us. Sasha and Natasha arrived by ten and began to prepare for painting the guest room, the lower corridor and the area leading up to the new church. Then another carload came from Richmond also to help with the painting, and yet another car brought others who helped the original helpers. On top of, that some young neighbours also came to help out, but one of the ladies took over the kitchen and prepared a huge meal for everyone which was not difficult for her, since she is a professional chef. A little later Vlad, Doina and Dan came to drill a hole in the large stone next to the church where they will erect a three meter cross, or troitsa, and have it embedded in the rock. They also drilled into another huge rock where a concrete cross will be erected, having been brought out of Bosnia Herzegovina where it had been defiled. Although I did not help much, I did become weary just watching everyone being so active.

Daniel had printed about 100 copies of the Slavonic Liturgy hymnal the other day and yesterday about fifty covers were printed so that I could fold and staple them after Father Moses had collated them. They are neat and fairly compact, and they will come in handy this Sunday when we will be serving the Slavonic Liturgy instead of the usual last Sunday. We had been left with almost no copies, as some became tattered while others were taken by people who wanted a copy at home. Our stapler is ancient and ever so heavy, foot operated and easy to use once you figure outs its quirks. We are due for some rain over the weekend, so the composted manure had to be covered with a large tarp. While shopping this afternoon I notice bags of frozen okra and a sudden impulse to prepare a pot of gumbo made me buy a bag. Actually, the gumbo was quite a success without any recipe, just adding one ingredient after another and a lot of herbs and spices. The bag of frozen shrimp helped to improve the flavour immensely.

Different groups of visitors came today to pray, for counselling, and in general to become acquainted with the monastery. As it happened I was free to spend time with all these people who were genuinely interested in knowing more about us. We have found that the best way to become known is by "word of mouth". Each person has something interesting to say about themselves and something to take back with them. Daniel carried out material from the library and storage room to set out for this Sunday's give-away. I added more things and had to keep from retaining some of those things, as there is the inclination to think that everything might be of some use one day. Before sunset Vladika Lazar went to the field with the tractor, an exercise he finds invigorating,

Part of the day was spent in sorting material that will be put out this Sunday after the Agape meal for people to browse through and select whatever they desire. We have accumulated so many gifts and "odds and ends" that we almost feel inundated. Many of these objects are entirely unnecessary for us, but they were given with love, so we want to share them with others. These items include some older icons, cloths and material of various sorts, books and more books in different languages, new bread boards, pasta makers, grills, dishes of all kinds and so forth, Rain is forecast for Sunday, so we shall have to display everything in the reception room and open it only after the meal so that all might have an equal chance to view the display. Erin spent the afternoon working on the terrace which will look great once it is completed.

The delivery of mature mushroom manure [or something to that effect] arrived this afternoon in a truck driven by the new owner of the business. He had just taken over from a gentleman with a French name and I thought that I might possibly exchange a few words with him in French. No, the new owner is Vietnamese with such a strong accent that I scarcely understood him, still, he had a good sense of humour. I think we got about eleven yards of this material which will be spread around bushes and other plants by our volunteers. The little bear climbed up the holly tree to eat the grapes that are draped on it, but I could not get a photograph of it.

It felt good to be under no pressure and to have a day full of relaxation, enjoying the sun, the warm breeze, and eating the last of the ripe Corfu grapes that are still on the vine and out of reach for the animals. Erin worked for part of the day shovelling soil where the terrace is being prepared on the slope in front of the konak. Vladika Lazar took the tractor our into the east field where he cut the rest of the area next to the stream. We all feel happy that the fields are once again being brought into shape so that they will look verdant and irenic

We could not have asked for a better day, for it has been bright and warm and it felt like the beginning of Indian Summer. It looked as if there might be few people in attendance for the Liturgy but, as it so often happens, more and more came so that it was really well attended. Also, we were pleased to see so many Georgians in attendance and, once again, the Lord's Prayer was read in Georgian. The five icons that were hung this week look splendid and many made favourable comments. After most of the people had left, there was a small group of us at the refectory table when someone suddenly cried out that a bear was outside and, indeed, we looked out the large window to see the bear eating white winter berries and almost posing for us. Igor might send us a copy of the photo he took and then it can be placed on Facebook.

What a busy day it has been. Andy came early to hang the two icons, one of Christ Not Made By Hands which now is above the icon of Saint Nina of Georgia, and the Old Believer icon of Saints Florus and Laurus, placed above the icon of Saint Nicholas next to the iconostas. That entire corner looks very complete. Some of our regular women volunteers came to do more cleaning and painting of the lattice on the ramp. At the same time we had the baptism of two month old Alexandra, so cute and scarcely a murmur out of her. Within an hour of their departure, the next group arrived when we baptized twenty year old Mark. Enough food was brought to feed the neighbourhood, and it was a most pleasant event.

We picked another tub full of apples and made more apple sauce, some with a bit of clove and vanilla flavour, another with rose water added for interest. The little bear ran ahead of us this evening, probably frightened and uncertain where he should be headed. We were delayed hanging a couple of the larger icons, but Andy should have it done by tomorrow. He can take his time, as they will be in the new church, while we will have two baptisms in the old church. I gather that some of our volunteers will be coming tomorrow to continue their previous work, and bless them for that.

Vladika Lazar came across a young bear on the monastery road and he had time to photograph it, as you can see on Orthodoxy Canada. After they have fattened up for the long hibernation, they will retreat and begin looking for a den where they can spend the winter. Daniel helped me to hang some icons in church: Saint Vladimir, Saint Sava of Serbia, then Saint Macrina, Saints Alexander and Helen, a small icon of Heiko's The Burial of Christ and lastly, the icon Not Made By Hands of Jesus Christ, painted by our friend Robert Senger of Regina. A few more will be hung in the next few days.

While driving along the monastery road, I noticed many more apples lying both on the road and off to the side on the grass exactly where we had picked the apples yesterday. Vladika said the he saw the small bear the previous night up in the tree and photographed him, although I have not seen the photo. No one picked up the apples as it was raining, and I fear that by tomorrow they will either have been eaten or else will be beyond saving. On the other hand, while in town we noticed that a thrift store was going out of business and, being curious, I popped in for a minute and bought a nice new shirt for all of 94 cents.

The bears climbed the apple tree near the monument and, although they ate many apples, others fell as the tree was being shaken.  We picked up those fallen apples and spent an hour or so paring them, then making apple sauce that was delicious.  I doubt if we can reach the apples on the uppermost limbs.  I took a walk behind my place to see where these bears sleep or at least rest, only to be told that moments later, the bears were seen in that very same spot.  We had a delightful visit with people from Toronto who hope to move here one day in the future.

Today is a public holiday, Labour Day, so we tried not to venture out because of the heavy traffic with holiday makers returning home. Vladika Lazar went out with the tractor and cut the grass in the lower field. Now we shall be able to keep the fields from being overgrown with unwanted grass and a new invasive one. I found out that last night some visitors stayed until late in the evening and some others arrived on their way home, bringing us a variety of food, utensils and other goodies. In the afternoon I stepped out to see what might be left of our apples, only to discover the smallest apple tree shaking, as if someone were in it and, indeed, there was a small bear chomping on the ripened fruit. I managed to chase him away but not for long, for he retuned and sat on a rock directly behind my place. I telephoned Father Moses who came out and we drove the bear away. Daniel hurried to bring an apple picker to remove the last of the fruit, whether or not it was completely ripe, otherwise nothing would be left by late evening. And so, the apple season has ended for us with the bears taking the greater part for themselves. As for the grapes, there are still clusters high up in the holly tree but, alas, they cannot be reached.

After I arose and began getting ready for church I could hear an unfamiliar sound outside and, looking through the window I could see some movement in the shrubs and eventually a bear stepped out. It ignored my shouts, and I finally used the bear horn to frighten it away. Later I noticed it by the apple trees and used the horn again. Of course, they are hungry and are fattening themselves for the winter but it does not make it any more comfortable to have them so nearby. This is the Labour Day weekend and we were sure that few would come for the Liturgy, as many had already gone away, yet great was our surprise to see how many people had come for the service. At the end of the Liturgy we had prayers for travel, prayers for those returning to school and the usual healing service on the first Sunday of the month. It was great seeing Olga and Vanya again, after their long visit to Latvia. And, once again, Vera spoiled us with her exquisite desserts.

Since Vladika Lazar was not feeling well, I took Father Moses with me to Burnaby for the International Festival which took place at the Serbian Centre. This place is remarkable, for within the complex one finds a beautiful Byzantine church, a large atrium that encloses the space between the church and the large reception hall, with an outdoor patio. One floor lower is a lounge with a good sized theatre, and two or three levels of parking area, all this within a small plot of land. The architects certainly knew what they were doing, as this complex is a huge success. One must credit the Serbs for their determination and perseverance. There were booths and displays from most of the former republics of the Soviet Union with all the varied costumes. The Moldovian display was prepared mostly by those who come to the monastery and they offered us an example of their dancing. The costumes from Kazakhstan were impressive, as were those from Belarus, and it was interesting to see that the Russian and Ukrainian displays were spread out on a single table. The common language was Russian, with a number of Russian speaking Afghanis present, as well as those from Uzbekistan, Kirghistan, and even Tatarstan. The concert in the main hall included talented singers and dancers from these various countries. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves immensely and were touched by the kindness of the organizers and participants of this wonderful festival. We wish them even greater success in the future.

There is only one month to check for the 2017 calendar, corrections to be made, and then it can be printed, It will surely be the earliest one completed, as usually we end up printing the calendars at the very end of December. Jon has helped us tremendously this year in doing the layout for the calendar with all the little details that can be easily overlooked. Daniel has thrown himself into the task of cleaning up in the downstairs storage room where, he claims, a lot of the things stored at the back are really nothing but unnecessary things, if not even junk. We shall have to tend to that soon. Also it was so handy having Seraphim here to help me with my computer, instead of having to run to Vladika any time a problem arose.

We were suddenly jolted into realizing that September had arrived and, in a way, summer is over, or at least the scorching days. We enjoyed the rain and cool weather today, a gentle reminder of the future. We crossed the border to mail books and had, as a treat, a couple of dishes of ice cream [mine was caramel and cashew---yummy]. I am fairly tired because of the telephone calls, this one in the middle of the night from someone in Romania who has called a number of times, and in each case his child needs surgery for a brain tumour, and would we please send him money. Another plea came by mail, asking for donations in the millions of dollars. At least such calls are from troubled people and not like the scam calls asking, or at least trying to get information about the computer, bank information, etc.

It is the feast of Saints Florus and Laurus today and we now have the very old icon of these two saints that was donated last Sunday. It reminds us of two monks at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, Laurus who became a metropolitan, and Florus, who remained a simple monk. The scattered showers brought us some relief, but we do need more rain for the welfare of the fields and gardens. I was quite pleased that the first six months of the 2017 calendar have been checked with only a few corrections to be made. Each year it becomes simpler to prepare the calendar, and I recall how terribly difficult and complicated it used to be many years ago.

The cooler weather has reinvigorated us, not that I have noticed any more energy, but perhaps the dreaded scorching days of summer have passed and it will be more pleasant in the next few weeks until autumn arrives. Gerry, Andrew and Luke spent the afternoon cutting grass and, in general, cleaning up outdoors, making the lawns look very presentable. Davey hauled a tractor here that he bought and he wants to leave it here at the monastery, allowing Vladika to use it when necessary. It is an old Massey Ferguson. Originally the company name was Massey Harris, then it became Massey Ferguson and now it probably has some Chinese of Japanese name. The Massey family is closely associated with the history of Canada, and Vincent Massey was the Governor General of Canada in the 1950s. I remember meeting him while I was yet in my teens. His daughter in law, Melanie, was active in the Orthodox Church during that period, and I got to know much about her through our mutual friend Princess Eva Galitzine.

How welcome today was so that there could be a bit of rest and a regaining of strength, as the weekend was ever so joyous but taxing. We were also able to tend to numerous small tasks that had been avoided earlier, but the time for them was ripe now. There must have been a terrible accident or some other occurrence on the main highway, as our secondary highway has had cars stretching for miles for much of the day. Obviously I have not turned on any news, so perhaps there were no fatalities. It is difficult to believe that it is exactly 8:15 and already it is fairly dark outside and, of course, the days shall be getting shorter and shorter.

Today we celebrated the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos and it was truly a great day. Since it is the last Sunday of the month, the Liturgy was in Church Slavonic, although we had quite a few Romanian and Georgian speaking worshippers. At the end of the service we had a Cross Procession with a final blessing outdoors. The hall was packed for the Agape meal and a number of people sat outdoors at the glass tables that had been cleaned yesterday. Later, we served a Canon of Repentance to the Most Holy Theotokos at which at least thirty people came, most having already left for home. Simeon and Alla of Moldova came to visit their children and brought us one of their family`s icons, that of Saint Flor and Saint Lavr, an Old Believer icon painted between 150 and 200 years ago. This Old Believer family received permission to take it out of the country and they asked us to accept it for the sake of their children and grandchildren. Now we shall have to find a place for it in the church. Since the Dormition fast ended today, we had an array of dishes with superb desserts brought by, naturally, Vera from Seattle.

We had another work party today, making it the third time people have come out this month to help us, This time, although there were fewer, most of the work was in painting and power washing the walls and windows. Just as we were preparing for Vespers, our power suddenly failed and, although it was still bright outdoors, it was quite dim in the church. We used a lamp that was bought some time ago for this very purpose, but by the time we reached the Old Testament readings, power had returned, the air conditioner came on and we began to feel cooler. Andy has warned us that the mama bear and her three cubs are appearing more often, especially in the early morning, and that we should use caution whenever we are outdoors, a warning that we shall most certainly heed.

There was a misunderstanding this morning about a scheduled memorial service. I thought that it was to be between ten and eleven, but when no one showed up by noon, I made a quick trip to town, only to be telephoned that the visitors had arrived. It seems that at the last minute we had decided that it would be served at one o'clock. Still, all went well and the service was beautifully chanted. Sorin came after work to continue repairing the deck of the old swimming pool which, once completed, will be solid and in no danger of sagging. Naturally, we have no use for the pool, but it has served well as a setting for eight tables for picnics and other events. My hip was bothering me again today, so I lay down for a while to have a rest. Suddenly I could hear some commotion outside near the apple trees and I was certain that it was the bears again. I went into the next room and slowly pulled up the blind, only to see that it was Vladika Lazar picking some of the ripest apples.

We have the full complement of kids here right now and so there is some bustling about. Seraphim installed a new keyboard for me, one that is larger than the former one and it is taking time to get used to it. It has some keys that are completely unfamiliar to me, but surely I will get to know them before long and I already have noticed that it is easier to type on the new one as the individual keys are a little larger, so that my fingers do not press two of them at once. The heat has been hard on some of the plants, although Vladika Lazar's little garden outside his study is doing well, and it can be pleasant to have tea there, surrounded by the trellised ramp, the huge rock, and the bamboo thicket.

It has been rather a lazy day with not too much accomplished because of the heat, although it seems that it will not be any hotter than this for the rest of the week. In the early afternoon I ventured out to look at the grapes and, indeed, there were still many clusters that the bears had not eaten because they were entangled in the branches of the holly tree. Small, but delicious! Then I examined the fig tree and had some of that fruit, then it was the turn of the apple trees and I had to sample them as well. At least I must have had quite a few vitamins from all that fresh fruit, completely organic at that. I spoke to the regional manager of the Big Box Outlet stores and thanked him for the special bargain prices that they offer. All the fruit and vegetables that were donated have given us the usual problem with fruit flies. If the situation does not improve, special traps will have to set out to capture them.

We had a baptism for little Maria who is one and a half years old, and she was unbelievable, smiling throughout the service and enjoying it immensely. Because it was early enough in the morning, it was still fairly cool outdoors and in the church. A reception followed with all the food strictly lenten, as the mother and grandmother pointed out, making certain that the Dormition Fast would be kept properly. The godfather had flown in from Halifax in Nova Scotia for this event. Last night after I had gone to bed and turned out the lights, I could hear the bears roaming about outside, and making their usual sounds that, at times, sounded like something between groans and grunts. It did give me an eerie feeling, but I felt quite safe in bed. Now, if I had to go outside, I surely would have taken the bear horn with me.

After such an exhausting day yesterday, I was hoping to sleep in a little this morning, yet I was wide awake before six and feeling full of energy, so I arose and began the day positively. Andy is having some trouble with his pickup so the garbage was not hauled away. Let us hope that it will be done tomorrow, as the garbage is beginning to be malodorous. Although the bears ate most of our grapes, enough was left for us to have a good feed of these Corfu grapes that are excellent for wine making, but we will not be doing that. Father Moses earned his degree in civil engineering by making it possible to block a window, yet allow a large opening for the air intake hose of the air conditioner. Natasha informed us that she is gathering another work party for this coming Saturday, as they are on a roll, so to say, and they want to do as much as possible this summer.

How much more pleasant it was today with the temperature much lower that it was yesterday. The fan and the air conditioner in church made a great difference, even though the doors and windows were closed. For much of the summer we had served prayers for travel for those who were travelling near or far, but today many of these same people had returned from their trips and were in church. Once again, the men's voices, especially during matins, were so strong and harmonious that I was almost overwhelmed. After the Agape meal, two akathists were served in Romanian in the old church, as this is done on the third Sunday of each month. Naturally, the discussions over tea and coffee continued until evening, today's main topic was, once again, the Dogma of Redemption, with Vera from Seattle giving us some insights from a work she has just read by Sergey Starogorodsky, who was an archimandrite at the time of the writing of it, but who later became Patriarch of Moscow. Such discussions prove to be stimulating, mind provoking, enlightening and, generally speaking, most beneficial.

This surely must have been one of the hottest days of the season and this was felt by everyone who showed up for the Saturday "work party". The first came at nine in the morning and others followed soon after. The kitchen was painted with the ceiling white and the walls the same beige as in the hall. I cannot get over how clean and bright it now looks. Others cleaned the library, office, and other areas of the monastery while taking a brief break for lunch, then returning to their individual tasks. We certainly appreciate all the work that they have done and, in fact, the volunteers themselves have suggested more such work parties. Early in the evening a young bear was noticed in the holly tree, eating grapes on vines that have covered much of the tree. It became frightened when it saw people and quickly fled. This means that we must be careful while outdoors, because there could be a mama bear lurking around.

With fans and air conditioner on full blast, we served the Transfiguration Liturgy in relative comfort. We really expected few people to show up in this heat, yet so many came that it was like a Sunday service. Plans were made for tomorrow's work party and some are to arrive early in the morning to begin painting the kitchen. Sorin came after work and spent a few hours on repairing the permanent cover over the former swimming pool. He saw a bear cub which means that its mother must be lurking around somewhere. I was told in no uncertain terms that I must not walk alone to my cottage at dusk. Needless to say, I fully agree with this advice. They say that it was in the high 30s here today [over 100 fahrenheit]. It is on days like this when we dream about chilly days and nights when an extra blanket comes in handy.

The days are becoming noticeably shorter, or is it that the evenings are becoming longer? I am having a problem with the size of this type, but someone will surely correct it for me, as I am not knowledgeable about computers. When I went out to gather fruit for the blessing of first fruits tomorrow, I could see that the bears were back, especially around the apple trees. Still, I picked enough apples, figs and grapes for the blessing. At the last moment I realized that no prosphora had been baked, to there was a rush to complete that before Vespers. Our local good news was heard today---the post office will remain open, so it was worth our while to send letters, emails, petitions, etc to various officials who, in fact, said that they were influenced by the public outcry and concern. This is perhaps a good lesson for all of us to become involved when such opportunities occur.

This entry is being prepared late in the evening and I am having trouble in not collapsing onto the keyboard, which is why it might be fairly brief. There were so many errands to be done all day that we seemed to be on the road much of the time. In the evening we drove to Coquitlam to visit a family very dear to us on the occasion of Nikita's first birthday. The Chinese neighbours on either side joined the outdoor meal which we had to leave somewhat early to get home before it got too late. And now it is time for sleep.

The visit of two families from Edmonton was pleasant. First we served a memorial for Vladimir, a young man who died suddenly this spring, leaving behind a widow and two small boys, then a moleben for Liudmila, Alexander, Maxim, and Marina and Anastasia. Some of the pears that were brought here on Sunday were sent with them, knowing that there are no pears growing in Edmonton. Friends from Saskatoon sent us a jar of their homemade Saskatoon berry jelly which we will try tomorrow. I still can readily recall the Saskatoon berry pies, tarts and piroshki that were made in my childhood. The taste of the wild brries cannot compare with the commercially grown ones.

At long last! The repairman arrived and repaired our telephone line. It really does feel good to have the land line up again. He had promised to arrive first thing in the morning, but by noon he still had not come. I phoned to find out what had happened and was informed that the repairman would arrive within the hour. I asked the woman, with whom I was speaking, where she was located and her answer was,"In Central America." I then told her about the previous conversation I had had with a person with a strong Chinese accent and I said that perhaps Telus had moved from Mexico to China. She did not seem to be amused. In olden days all this could have been accomplished in a couple of days, but globalization has extended it to a couple of weeks. This is the season when we are overwhelmed with donations of fruit and vegetables. Our tables and cupboards are groaning with pears, peaches, plums, countless cucumbers and large bags of kale and Swiss chard. Mind you, some of it is meant to be given away and, undoubtedly, it will amount to more than just "some."

Misha has recovered and, as usual, he was here shortly after seven in the morning. He was shocked to see the hall in complete disarray with chairs and pictures piled on all the tables, and the drapes lying across a couple of tables. Before the women came to bring about some order, some of the men rushed in and reassembled everything perfectly. How clean and bright the hall looks with a new coat of paint. At the end of the Liturgy we had a Cross Procession to the Holy Well where we had a lesser blessing of water and honey. For the dismissal people came up to kiss the Cross, then to be blessed with the newly blessed water, then to take a piece of the antidoron and dip it into the honey. After the Agape meal, an outdoor table was covered with clothing and various objects for people to help themselves. As Vladika Lazar was tired, there was no Meleti, but we served an Akathist to Saint Panteleimon in front of his relics. Last night a visitor from Moscow gave us a book of Akathists, so we shall have a good supply of them for the future.

Although the heat is almost unbearable, we have had a most interesting day that began with a large contingency of people from Langley who came for the baptism of three month old Apolinaria who behaved excellently during the service. Her Godmother flew in from Germany for his event which ended with a grand meal. All the while, the dozen or so who showed up for the Saturday work party continued with painting, steam power cleaning and other tasks. Usually the daily entry is prepared later in the evening, but today there are a number of people on their way for Vespers, so it might not be possible to do it later. It has been impressive watching all these people rushing about and taking labour and heat in their stride. Not so is it with us older ones.

For anyone who is superstitious, today is Friday the twelfth, not the thirteenth, so we are off to a good start for this weekend. The Telus repairman could not come today as the job that he was on consumed much of he day, so he expects to arrive early Monday morning. Perhaps they have been reduced to employing just one repairman for all of Vancouver and the surrounding area? The heat has been terrible and everyone looks wilted. Thomas did a lot of trimming and cleaning in preparation for Sunday's Cross Procession which will proceed to the Holy Well where the water will receive a lesser blessing, as is customary, together with the blessing of honey. Sorin came after work to help with moving some soil and other tasks.

The Riso repairman came to fix the printer, so now we can go full steam ahead, as they say. I told him that they were more efficient and much more prompt than the Telus repairmen who come out only on an appointment which means waiting for days. Someone mentioned that they are headquartered in Mexico now, and perhaps they have to send out someone from there. Actually, the crew has been subcontracted by subcontractors of subcontractors of Telus. The woman who phoned us for the appointment had a strong Chinese accent, so maybe Telus has moved to China in the meantime. Two more manuscripts were proofread this afternoon, one of which will be printed shortly.

Much of the food taken to the Senior Citizens' Centre consisted of fruit juices and beverages for this hot weather, together with frozen foods that can be quickly heated whenever needed. Some Roman Catholic visitors dropped in and, after a while, the conversation became rather heated [actually we enjoyed it] and, in the end, they might even come for a service, after having been told by Father Moses what they can and cannot do. At last the proofreading has come to an end, with only four minor corrections to be made before the manuscript is sent off. Jon and Daniel arrived a while ago and they will soon be put to work, as there always is much to be done.

While purchasing a few things at a large store this morning, I noticed a [Canadian] Buddhist nun standing in a queue at the Lottery Outlet. She looked quite elegant in her wine and turmeric clothes and she reminded me of many of our local Buddhists who had become enchanted with it, but after a spell they seem to have become "stay at home Buddhists" much like the expression of "stay at home Baptists" who do not give up their religion, but prefer to stay at home. Actually, there are a lot of other "stay at home" people in various faiths, many of them well known to us. The paper for publication in Russia has been sent off, and another proofreading was done on the same book that we have been working on. The biggest problem has been with pagination which sounds simple and straightforward, but in reality can be nightmarish.

Several people have dropped in to visit us which is always pleasant. Davey left the large van here yesterday, after having repainted it. It looks very different now, with its almost Northwest Native flavour, not that it was meant to be such. It will be useful for hauling large loads that could never fit in the sedan. The Dormition Fast will begin this Sunday and we have Vera to thank for spoiling us with an assortment of cheese. We began with English Stilton cheese, so rich and blue veined, eating it with fresh fruit. Then there was the smoked Gouda, an all time favourite with a pronounced smokey taste and, lastly, some French Roquefort that has not yet been opened. Surely this will be an extravagantly wicked cheese week! She also brought us some special vegan sausages, very tasty, but in no way comparable with the assortment of cheese.

We missed our Misha who is under the weather and, in fact, this is only the second time that he has missed church in more than ten years. His organizing skills were truly missed and we hope that he will be able to rejoin us soon. The Liturgy brought several new people and two families with small children. Reader Markel's new van was blessed and plans were made to baptize little Appolinaria before her godmother returns to Germany. Vera was here from Seattle, bringing several Tortes Napoleon and other goodies that were appreciated by everyone. Elena has promised us to bring boxes and bags of pears that are ripening on her pear trees so that we can pass them on to anyone who wishes to have some. Our own pears are not yet ripe enough. Alas, the bears were at our apples again so we might have to save some even though they are not entirely ripe.

It has been another long but enjoyable day. Shortly after noon we set out for Bellingham where we had been invited to visit some dear friends, Roxana and Costi, and their daughter Andrea and her boyfriend Murray, and to serve a memorial. As well, Ioana and Ovidiu came from West Vancouver so that we had a superb time, sitting at the table and discussing everything from the Orthodox Faith to contemporary politics, science, medicine, etc. The meal was excellent, and prepared by Murray who is a prominent chef. The two dogs, whose names I have forgotten, one a Boston Terrier and the other a Pug entertained us with their antics. Father Moses served Vespers alone for a number of people who had come and who brought tons of food, much of which can be used for tomorrow's meal. And yes, in crossing the border we were in the wrong lane again, but we did not have to wait quite so long as we did earlier in the week.

I was sad to see a large branch of the Turkish fig tree lying on the ground. Year before last it broke and I had assumed that some creature tried to climb onto it, but I patched it up and it did well. This time, though, it was probably the weight of the entire branch and the figs on it that caused it to break off. Now we will try to nurse it back to health and hope that there will be no permanent damage. Monica drove up with her first results of canning this year, as well as bringing a variety of fresh vegetables so that we are well supplied for the near future. And today's special dish for lunch? It was cold peach soup with added blackberries. It might sound strange, but was it ever delicious!

Andrew spent much of the day cutting the grass and especially trimming around the memorial crosses and other hard to reach places. We appreciate his help as we are getting a little too old for much of that type of work. During the heat in summer, the grass has to be cut less often, and it could be another three weeks or so before it needs another touch. We are often asked about our diet here at the monastery, and today I shall satisfy this curiosity by telling you what we had for supper. It might not be appealing to everyone, but we are very fond of cold cucumber soup with dill, and this time I added some cottage cheese to it instead of the Persian way of adding yogourt or even sour cream. Along with this soup we had grilled cheese sandwiches with a bit of sweet onion and, for dessert, there were blackberries with cottage cheese or ice cream. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Thomas has been painting the shingles on the side of the konak and a raccoon has bothered him by being bold enough to walk up to the cats' dish and eat all the cat food, even though Stubbs was right there, staring at it. On the whole, the raccoons have not been too troublesome, but they can be dangerous and, I understand, they can also be affected with rabies. A telephone repair man should be coming in a couple of days to investigate the problem we are having with the phones in the konak. All the other phones in the other buildings are on the same line, yet they are functioning perfectly. We shall see what comes of his visit. The big hall still has a lingering smell of fresh paint after Sasha painted it on Monday, but how good it looks.

TUESDAY 2 AUGUST 2016 Today's trip across the border to mail books was not unusual, although the return trip was tiring. We have no idea of what could have happened, but every lane had cars zipping through while ours scarcely moved. At one point we sat for almost half an hour before we could move a few feet, and it was almost impossible to change lanes. At one point we decided that the border official must have deceased and they were serving his funeral. When we reached the booth it was a surprise to have us sail through in just a couple of minutes. It really reminded me of superstores where one often gets into the wrong lane. On the other hand, proofreading has gone well, it has rained a little, and we are still enjoying the leftovers from Sunday's Agape meal.

Another day, another month. Here it is midway through summer and, before we know it, autumn will arrive, but that is the way it is supposed to be. At least it was cooler today and more pleasant to be outdoors. Daniel and his kids are here right now and he has watered all the plants at the monument, and also everything around the main monastery buildings, but not until the sun had begun to set, as that is the best time to water the garden, and not during the heat of the day. Sasha arrived early this morning and began the task of covering everything--floor, tables, walls, lights--in the big hall and then began to paint the ceiling, giving it two coats of paint. Another day he will do the walls and also the other rooms and corridors. It is a blessing to have him do all this voluntary work. I spent time proofreading one of Vladika Lazar's books before it is reprinted, while he worked on a paper for an anthology in Russia, a busy day for a Monday.

What a great way to send off the month of July with a successful feast day. Misha arrived before seven in the morning and the Old Believer service was already in progress in the old church. It was overcast which meant that we would not be suffering from the heat all day. We began with the hours and an akathist to the Joy of Canada, then we went directly into the Liturgy with people streaming in. It became so crowded in the back that I had to move everyone closer to the front of the church. The Cross Procession was especially touching with the church bells ringing out while we processed all the way to the monument where we served a moleben to the Theotokos, Joy of Canada and where a new icon of the feast was blessed. It is on a sheet of aluminum and is guaranteed to last many decades. The bell ringing continued even on our return procession. There was not enough room for all the people in the hall, so many went outdoors or sat on the balcony. My fears of not enough food were unfounded, and the tables were piled high with food. Tables were set outside where people could help themselves to items that were given to the monastery but not really needed. After, an Akathist was served to Saint Neil Stolobensky [15/16 centuries]. The balcony was bedecked with flags of different countries, giving the monastery a festive appearance. And so, the day came to an end with a most joyous feeling, after having worried about its success for a long time.

As I recall, in the past we always had people coming to help us on the day or days before our feast, but this year it falls on a long weekend when many have gone away for a short holiday. Still, Gerasimos and Andrew came a couple of times to tackle the lawns and the area around the monument where all the grass had to be mowed. Joanna came with boxes full of cutlery, knowing that we were running short on some items. Most interesting of all were our visitors today, a group of about twenty five Russian Orthodox Old Believers who came for a lengthy service served by Bishop Sofrony and Father Nikita of Oregon. The service was held in our old church which, in many respects looks like an Old Believer church. Their chanting is unique and very pleasing, while the women were all in long dresses and large white kerchiefs, and the men in Russian shirts with belts. They will be here tomorrow morning as well to serve the Liturgy. Today's service began at about half past four and will continue until at least ten o'clock. What a contrast that is when we see some of our own people coming in at the end of any service.

It is now evening and, although there is a slight breeze, we can still feel the heat of the day and, of course, everything has to be watered before bedtime. What a relief it was to have Davey and Norm haul away this week's garbage and the pile that was carried out of my place. Yet, it seems that as soon as one load is hauled away, the next one builds up immediately. Two new fans have been installed which should give us some relief from the heat. Several ladies asked if they could come and bring us supper which we could hardly refuse. Not only was it pleasant, but it also saved us from having to prepare anything.

Today is the feast of Saint Vladimir of Kiev and All Rus. For many days there have been two groups marching to Kiev, one from the east and the other from the west, to meet in Kiev on this feast. Take a look at some of the You Tube broadcasts and you will readily notice that there are not just tens of thousands, but perhaps hundreds of thousands of pilgrims on this march for peace. Unfortunately, enemies of the Orthodox Faith have tried to intimidate them and disrupt the peaceful march, yet there has not been a word of it in any western press that I might have noticed. Of course, we have become accustomed to such behaviour. We drove to North Vancouver to commune the ill in one home and to bless another one. How did we manage to drive years ago without air conditioning? Today's trip was entirely possible because of the cool temperature in the car.

The heat really got to us today and, by the time we all were dripping in perspiration, everything had to be stopped and a cool spot was found where one could cool off, so to speak. Thomas began painting the shingles on the konak's sun porch but he had to stop because of the heat. I tried to tidy up the old church but I also gave up as it was unbearably hot there. Fortunately, Vladika's office is cool, so I have spent a good part of the day there, mainly deleting all the inbox, sent, spam and trash items, not realizing how long it took to do each item individually. Yes, there probably is a speedy way to delete them, but I am not an adept computer user.

In the heat of the day, Vladika Lazar went out to work with the backhoe, something that would be a chore for me, but great pleasure for him. Give him a tractor or a backhoe and he is suddenly transformed into a young person with an abundance of energy. It does more good for him than a lot of medication. Andrew [not Andy] spent much of the day cutting grass around my place, and then at the monument where we will, God wiling, be processing to after Sunday's Liturgy. Misha kept reminding me that more skin creams were needed for this weekend, as the last jar was sold last week, consequently a new batch was prepared along with some lip balm, both products using pure beeswax and olive oil. I told some members of the Seniors' Centre that we would prepare several dozen bottles of water and produce for their kitchen next week when all should be less hectic.

It was touching to know that many readers of this Daily Diary responded to the recent diary entry about the fall I had, and various suggestions were given, all of which I have taken into account. Most of them concentrated on proper diet and nourishment while concentrating on certain vitamins and minerals, and even the suggestion that it might have been a mild stroke. I will see the doctor but so much has to be prepared for this Sunday's feast, the Joy of Canada. In this heat I often feel dehydrated and I have to remind myself to drink more water. Our mountain water seeps through layers of rock and who knows what else. Its taste is superb and, since it is blessed several times a year, we have the perfect water supply.

Another perfect day has arrived with beautiful weather and good attendance at the Divine Liturgy. Lately the singing at Matins has been powerful and moving, not that the singing at the Liturgy was in any way inferior. A number of people commented on the singing. Irinaeus gave an excellent sermon with much to think about. We were pleased with the number of visitors who were here, as many of the regulars are away on vacation. Luke was joined by David and Paramon in the altar. After the Agape meal, Vladika Lazar spoke at the Meleti which was followed by a car blessing and the chanting of the Akathist to the Icon of the Joy of Canada which, we hope, will be repeated perhaps once a month. Thereupon, enough time was found to speak to various groups of visitors from Germany and Romania. How good it was to see Sorin Rotaru and his family again, as well as Mark Northy and his family, as well as others. Eventually we sat outdoors in the shade of the evergreen trees until six o'clock when we decided that it was time for supper, and so some women went to the kitchen to prepare a meal which we ate alfresco [outdoors] including Mircea and Rodica, Oleg and Olena, David and Daniel. By nine o'clock everyone left after such a full day of activities.

Aside from a scraped elbow, there are no bruises or broken bones after yesterday's fall. Someone asked why I was not leaning on my cane, but actually I was; the force of being thrust aside was too strong to overcome and I simply had to try to fall safely, if you know what I mean. Today's baptism of Andrew went well although he did cry for a while. The mother said that in Russia there often are a dozen or more babies baptized at once and, when one of them starts crying, most of the others join in and the priest can scarcely be heard. Thomas completed painting the gazebo which was in need of a good touch of paint rather than just a stain. He also is anxious to do the same with the singles on the side of the konak. After Vespers and a light supper, we blessed Ina's new Jeep. It is so new that there is not a single spot of dust or dirt in [or even on] it and it smelled exactly like a brand new vehicle.

I must make this entry early and brief, as I had a frightening fall earlier this afternoon when I became dizzy and, suddenly, I seemed to be thrown off to the left, landing between the van and no more than four inches from a heavily constructed flower bed. It was fortunate that my head did not crack open, although it might have done some good. I lay there until I could reach someone on the mobile phone. A few bruises appeared but I shall rest for the remainder of the evening.

The heat has left me listless and for part of the day I simply reclined in an armchair and dozed, such are the rewards of aging. Father Moses noticed a strange creature in the water, seemingly with four humps, and I suggested that it might be a miniature Loch Ness monster. Perhaps it could have been an otter, or even two of them. Daniel arrived to stay for a few days and to help out with the many tasks that are awaiting attention.

What should have been a simple trip to the airport to pick up Vladika Lazar took, in fact, five hours, counting the return trip and various stops along the way where construction was being carried out. I could scarcely endure the noise at the airport with thousands of people rushing about, nothing like the quiet we have here at the monastery. Now I can fully realize why people come here and tell us how quiet and peaceful it is, because it really is so. Now that Vladika is back, we will swing into our old routine and see things happening that simply do not in his absence. Thomas has been painting at the gatehouse but I have not seen what he did, although I am certain that it was a good job.

I do not mind visiting my oncologist every few months, although I cannot say that I eagerly look forward to such visits. This morning was one and, instead of waiting the usual half hour or usually much more than that, I was in and out in fifteen minutes with very good news. I seem to be in fairly good condition and should be around for some time yet. That was most encouraging. Fortunately there were fewer phone calls and visitors today, yet food was brought to treat us and it was much appreciated. Gerasimos and Andrew came to work on the lawns and to trim around many plants. It can be tedious work but ever so necessary and I am pleased that people volunteer time and energy to help us with such work.

I accomplished very little this day, as it is my birthday and I tried to rest up after yesterday's full day. Telephone calls and messages came pouring in, something that I am not accustomed to. One of the calls was from Svetlana of Volgograd who said that they were suffering from the heat with one day reaching 45 degrees centigrade. By late afternoon people began streaming in, bringing gifts and birthday cakes, each one as attractive and tasty as the previous one. Of course I had to sample them all as well as all the food that was brought. We even managed to squeeze in a van blessing.

Last Sunday I announced that I would be serving the Liturgy today and I jokingly added that whenever I serve, people seem to stay away. Well, there were fewer people than usual today, so perhaps I have some prophetic gift! On the other hand, we had an overcrowded kliros with several men singing, so that it truly sounded like some men's monastsery. It was a compliment to hear that some visitors remarked that our singing reminded them of monasteries in Russia, especially Valaam Monastery. Personally, I do not hear the resemblance, but it was very kind of them to say so. Because my birthday falls tomorrow, Vera brought me a gigantic cake all the way from Seattle, along with two others, thinking that it would be necessary to treat everyone. As it happens, today is David' birthday so he received the second cake, and Sorin received the third one since his birthday was yesterday. Eventually we moved outdoors and sat under the spruce trees, away from the sun until rain drove us indoors.

SATURDAY 16 July 2016
Three vestments had to be mended which took some time, then I made an iliton and two communion cloths. The iliton is what the antimins is wrapped in on the holy table. As I have mentioned previously, I am not a tailor by any means, but if something has to be altered, mended or sewn simply, I can managed that. In years past, when we were poor, practically all the vestments had to be made by ourselves as we had no one who would order them for us and, in a way, I rather miss those simpler days. Those who came for Vespers brought food for supper, so that we had a most delicious meal.

Today is the feast of the Transfer of the Sash of the Most Holy Theotokos, a feast that is celebrated in all the Orthodox churches, with many churches and monasteries named after this important feast. There are tropars, kondaks, hymns, etc etc dedicated to this feast, yet you will not find a single service, prayer, church or monastery dedicated to the supposed Shroud of Christ. How easily people can fall into delusion, as they do when they so readily accept the Turin Shroud as that of Jesus Christ. Those who readily accept the Turin Shroud as authentic are usually the ones who rush about looking for miracles, seeing signs and omens where, in reality, none exist. Their faith is weak and so they have to prop themselves up with such things which lead them into total delusion. We have the True Faith and we can grasp it easily if we only allow ourselves to do so, but instead we prefer the follies of wildly impulsive seekers of spirituality.

The highlight of today was berry picking. It was a cool evening, overcast with a strong breeze, perfect for the job and, would you believe, nary a mosquito bite, thanks to the wind. After trudging through high grass, we reached the blueberry bushes, many of which were still loaded with berries. It is interesting to note that, after thinking that all the berries have been picked, one can lift a branch and find many more underneath. How large, how flavourful they are and they are our very own organic berries. I think that one more picking this month will be all for the season. The kids have left and all of a sudden it is so very quiet. They did a great job of cleaning the reception room which once again can be used for that purpose. For some time it had been a haven for little children and a storage area, but now it has regained its prominent designation.

We constantly receive visitors, and those who came today were especially delightful, some devoted Anglicans who have been here before. I have always found our Canadian Anglicans to be interesting, as they have had such a profound influence on the history and culture of Canada. In fact, many Anglicans have converted to the Orthodox Church and are continuing to do so. Father Moses and I went to Laminart in Abbotsford to have some prints of early seventeenth century icons mounted. They do a tremendous job and we have used them for many years, which is why they give us a generous discount. Often people donate icons, usually poorly reproduced ones but even proper ones. The worst ones are the type that look like peasant art or saints having realistic and sweet looking faces. It can be difficult to refuse them, but we are fortunate in having Father Moses who readily decides if we can or cannot accept them, explaining diplomatically what might be wrong with any of these icons, and further explaining what proper icons are supposed to be like. Perhaps people do not always understand what iconography is all about, but we try to teach them as best we can.

We celebrated today the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul a favourite feast for, among other reasons, it ends the Apostles' Fast which meant that we broke the fast, although most of the food was semi lenten anyhow. Visitors stayed until four in the afternoon, much of the time spent in the library, looking at books that were donated to the monastery, but which are now being given away. We simply do not have the space for more books. It was great to have Liudmila back with us, after having spent so much time abroad. She is studying Portuguese [Brazilian] after having lecture there last year and we must introduce her to Anna, a Portuguese speaking woman who comes to the monastery.

I was glad that today had been warm with no trace of rain, as I had to drive Vladika Lazar to the Vancouver International Airport for his flight to Amsterdam where he has been invited to give a lecture at an international conference. In his absence we shall have to carry on and not to slack off. On the way back, he phoned me but I could not speak while driving so, after crossing the Pitt River Bridge, I turned in at a service station and parked behind near a secondary road. Just as I was about to finish our conversation, I noticed a man running toward me and suddenly I realized that it was our Sergey who was driving his huge commercial truck. He had noticed me and thought that I was either lost or having car trouble. It was such a surprise and a most pleasant one. This is at least the third time that we have met under such unusual circumstances.

An interesting question arose today. "Are mosquitoes considered to be lenten food?" This seemingly absurd question was asked because of the number of mosquitoes flying about. Even though the doors were kept closed, every time someone opened a door, a swarm of the beasties flew in. That is why we are grateful for the bats, as they can consume huge numbers of mosquitoes so quickly that one can scarcely even notice them. A few weeks ago a bat did fly into the hall and I was certain that there would ensue pandemonium but most did not react and gently guided it out the door. Returning to the question of whether or not they are lenten, no concrete answer ensued and, perhaps, just as well. The Divine Liturgy was uplifting and Reader Irineaus' sermon was to the point and very well received. When the time arrived for Holy Communion, I stepped out with the chalice and suddenly my head began to spin. I whispered to Misha, who was standing next to me, that I was fainting, no doubt frightening him, but he immediately tried to support me. In a few seconds all was normal and perhaps it was the heat and closeness in the church that affected me.

We experienced a horrendous rain storm last night with rain pounding on the rooftop and thunder resounding throughout the valley. In reality, it was like a typical low budget horror movie, but morning came and all was normal again. A moving thanksgiving service was held for a couple celebrating their twenty fifth wedding anniversary, with a large group of well wishers in attendance and everyone in a joyous mood. It felt stuffy in the church so we opened the door for a while until the mosquitoes began swarming in. It really was not all that bad, but the city dwellers are not used to them and so the door had to be quickly closed. After Vespers we went outside to bless an automobile and, although I did not notice any, the visitors were plagued by mosquitoes. They also heard a frightening sound and thought that it was a bear crying out when, in fact, it was nothing other than a bullfrog. We have had an invasion of the American bullfrog that is huge and preys on other amphibians and anything that it can devour, while its cry does sound like that of a bull or an oxen.

Did I mention that I found my lost cane? It had disappeared weeks ago and, after searching everywhere and quizzing everyone, I simply gave up and decided that it no longer wanted to be with me and to gain its independence. But, lo and behold, there it was, patiently waiting for me at the coffee shop in the nursery where we buy most of our flowers and shrubs for transplanting. What a joy it is to have it back again, rather like finding a lost friend. It is decades old, once having belonged to the late Marge Birch who inherited it from her mother, and who knows who owned it before. It is blond in colour, looks hefty yet is gentle, and fits into my hand as if it were meant for no one else. I have a sizeable collection of canes and walking sticks, including one that has a secret blade, but this particular one was always my favourite. And now, no matter what comes ahead, my faithful friend is once again reunited with me!

Today's treat was the visit of Matushka Anna, and Hannah and her children. Although we were visited by Matushka Anna and Father John last autumn, we have not seen Hannah and the children for at least five years. Makary was five when they moved to Saskatchewan, and we did remember him quite clearly, but the others---Patrick, Lidia and Daniel were new to us [more or less]. What a beautiful family with children so well behaved, yet full of life with abundant energy. The children were disappointed that they did not get to see any of our bears. Although the visit was short, we were energized by their very presence. Father Moses just informed me that Dima brought us some Okanagan cherries, Bing no doubt, which I really relish and which always remind me of my childhood when these cherries were eagerly anticipated, then quickly consumed.

The main event today was centred around a gargantuan blueberry pie that a couple of ladies brought for us. It reminded me of something out of a nineteenth century Russian novel where a person might have brought a piping hot pie to a neighbour for one reason or another, or perhaps for no reason at all. Needless to say it was immense, with a crust that could have been made by some master chef, and the berries sweet, full of flavour and unbearably delicious [and lenten!]. The only danger was the possibility of getting blueberry stains all over oneself. As if that were not enough, eating a few lenten potato filled dumplings could not have made the day any more Slavic or East European. The taste of the dumplings [vareniki ] with a touch of added salt and pepper, and a dash of powdered mustard keeps lingering and reminding one of the beauty of simple food. Yes, indeed, it does remind one of an old Russian novel.

It was a long wait to see my eye specialist, but it was worth all the waiting because he informed me that nothing has changed and I do not have to see him for another year. And, in speaking to Mike, he told me that he also had good news from the oncologist, so perhaps this has been a good day for many of us. I noticed that Davey had been in the parking lot with his huge Dodge truck pulling a car on a trailer which means that he picked up another vehicle at an auction. He does very well by finding such vehicles, repairing them, then selling them to satisfied customers. The rain has kept us indoors for much of the day, but at least it is an opportunity to work on indoor projects. Father Moses and I plan to select a number of fine icon prints and have them mounted at our favourite place---Laminart.

After a much needed rest, energy has returned and most of the day was dedicated to bringing more things into order. Having all these building and the two churches, there always is something to be done, cleaned, repaired, etc. and, with the recent rain, the weeds are competing with our flowers and other plants. We are fortunate to have the complete 17 volumes of the work of Archbishop Nikon on the life and works of Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky. Unfortunately, Volume 12 has been missing for a few years and no doubt it will never find its way back. If any readers of this dairy know where we might obtain this particular volume, please let us know, as we would really like to have the complete collection once again. Our friend said that, while living in the Soviet Unoin, she understandably never heard of Metropolitan Antony, but coming here, she discovered him and could not stop reading all his works.

Yesterday's entry was rather skimpy as there was not much to say, while today is quite different. Considering that it is the long weekend, we had good attendance for the Divine Liturgy. Vladika Lazar felt unwell and I offered to take his place so that he could rest. I too often pride myself thinking that I offer a great deal by singing at the kliros, yet the singers did splendidly without me today. We had visitors from Thailand, Australia, and places much closer to us. There were a number of Russian Orthodox Old Ritualists in attendance and after the Agape meal it was agreed that they would serve in our Church of the Holy Relics later this month. Since they have nowhere to meet, we offered our old church where they can gather for worship until they can firmly establish themselves. Naturally, many people asked for prayers for travel, as the summer holiday season has just begun.

Can you believe that I have almost nothing positive to say today or, for that matter, even negative. It is as if nothing happened at all. Yet, the day has been warm, Joanna came with a supply of goodies for the Sunday Agape meals, kind visitors dropped in, and we did work hard to bring everything into order, a never ending theme since, just as all has been brought into order, one thing or another falls into disorder. Sorry to make this entry short, but tomorrow's will undoubtedly have much more to tell.

It is Canada Day, our national holiday, yet I must admit that its former name of Dominion Day still rings loudly and clearly in my memory. There was no real celebration here at the monastery other than receiving visitors and, of course, the kids from the city. For some time now, I have ignored our Russian Site and today I finally prepared some material, although it took ages to type it in Russian. We hope to provide more material for it in the future. As well, I noticed that the schedule of services ended in June, so we shall have to quickly put up another month or two. As you might have guessed, we are great tea drinkers and our favourites are Yorkshire Gold and Twinings, although we have a lot of ordinary orange pekoe. People constantly bring us herbal teas, green and white teas, and a Turkish tea that we can drink out of special small glasses. I forgot to mention the Chinese teas that were brought for us by visitors to China. Of course we also drink coffee, herbal coffees and Ovaltine, but tea is still the favourite.

We can now say farewell to June, as summer has already arrived and the days are becoming shorter, not that we can notice it just yet. My day was tiring not from blessing a couple of homes, but from sitting in traffic jams, and it might have been because of the beginning of the Canada Day long weekend. At any rate the two homes blessed were in Langley, and it was a pleasant surprise to find them located quite close on either side of Saint Herman's Orthodox Church of Langley. Both were three storeys high and I have some difficulty negotiating stairs while picking up my cassock and blessing at the same time. The Granny at one of these homes speaks seven languages and manages to flit from one to another with no difficulty and often not even realizing that she has done so. The kids have come from Vancouver, although I have not yet had a chance to visit with them. Our nasturtiums have gone berserk [well, not quite that violently] but the brilliant orange of their flowers make a beautiful display.

In my haste to post yesterday's diary, I completely forgot to mention that it was Vladika Lazar's nameday, as he is named after Martyr Lazar of Kosovo. Despite numerous physical handicaps that he has experienced, as well as the machinations of the Evil One and his minions, Vladika continues to be a beacon of light to those seeking the truth of Orthodoxy. May he have many more years of missionary activity. I scarcely moved from my chair this afternoon, as a stream of visitors came for help and spiritual advice. I did not even stay for supper but retired to my cottage for some rest. Somewhat refreshed, I returned to post this diary and, no doubt, I shall soon return for more rest. For the past few days we have been inundated with fruit and berries that visitors have brought us, for which we are most grateful, although I blame myself for some negligence. I somehow was unaware that I did not put some of the cherries in the refrigerator and, alas, a good portion of them turned mouldy. Perhaps the birds [or beasts] will enjoy them. That is all for today and tomorrow I shall be off for a couple of house blessings.

After having had a good rest, we all felt much more energetic today even though many of the tasks we had hoped to accomplish were left for another day. We were pleased to have Reader Irenaeus come with three young men from Britain, brothers whose mother is principal of the academy where Irenaeus lectures whenever he is in Britain. It was their first trip to Canada, so I hope that they are enjoying it. Aside from the intellectual and theological discussions, we treated them to only cold fruit juice and Punjabi biscuits. I had not realized that last evening Father Moses and Thomas each picked a bucketful of blueberries, saying that there are so many green ones left, although I have a feeling that the bears will be at them soon. At least we are able to share the berries with them. We are often bothered by nuisance telephone calls, such as the one from Windows in the middle of the night, obviously from the other side of the world where they had no idea of the various time zones. After hanging upon them, Vladika Lazar told me that I should have warmly invited them to come and clean both our indoor and outdoor windows. Then, this morning, Father Moses was informed that we won a free trip to who knows where. What a waste of our time. And, once again, thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers.

After yesterday's exhausting day, I could barely function today, so it really has been a day of rest, aside from my monthly visit to the chiropractor and the eye specialist. Andy has not yet come to collect the garbage bags that had been filled with rubbish and there are plenty of them. The double event ensured that we would have about half a dozen huge garbage bags to be taken away. On the other hand, it was nice to have had so many books taken and, I believe, all the decorative plates have also gone. Now we have only ten or twelve boxes of books to give away. The chocolates we received from friends in Lake Constance, Germany, proved to be delicious and, now that the Apostles' Fast has begun, we are enjoying cherries brought for us from the Okanagan Valley. Yesterday, some men went to the blueberry patch to pick berries that they shared with others. Do you not also think that things taste better when we can share them with others?

This has been the second Sunday in a row where the weather was perfect for an important day. Each year we have a healing service on the feast of All Saints and, as I recall, the weather is good each time. Today it was splendid and it was wonderful to have Reader Markel back with us, as he has the ability to somehow guide everyone in singing and to encourage us to participate as fully as we possibly can. Really, the singing was excellent with extra voices provided by Larisa from Victoria and also Lilia, the founder of the Silver Ensemble, a group devoted to singing. Immediately after the Agape meal, we served an Acathist to the Theotokos in the Church of the Holy Relics, where about forty people came. Later, tables and chairs were taken out onto the lawn, several long tables set out for a couple of hundred of books that people were encouraged to take, as well a good number of Palekh collectors' plates. By four in the afternoon, many people arrived from the city and we began the Healing Service with Father Michael and Father Matthew participating. We had a Cross Procession and the anointing of all those who were present and a meal that followed, so that some were here for over ten hours.

I realized that there were still many things left after the wonderful wedding we had here recently, so we put away cutlery, decorations, plates etc. to prepare for tomorrow's Divine Liturgy and the Healing Service. A family from North Vancouver was here for Vespers tonight and they are planning to be here again for the Liturgy tomorrow. They think nothing of driving that distance, as does another family from North Vancouver and, what is a little disturbing, some people who live only thirty minutes away find that driving here is difficult because of the distance. Try to figure that one out. The sun came out this afternoon and splendid weather is forecast for tomorrow, so we will undoubtedly have the Healing Service outdoors in the shade of the towering cedars.

Today's trip across the border was simple in that there was only one vehicle ahead of us and, in no time at all, we were at the Sumas Post Office where the books were mailed, all 200 copies of one title. Father Moses and I struggled to carry the boxes to the car, heavy thought they were, and they were not any lighter at our destination. After having finished at the post office, we stopped briefly at a dairy outlet, much frequented by Canadians, where I purchased some cheese for Sunday's two Agape meals, and a dish of strawberry white chocolate ice cream to enjoy, [most delicious], since this whole week is fast free. Just before supper we experienced a torrential downpour that lasted only a few minutes, but it was so intense that I could scarcely see across the road. It reminded me of days long gone by in Panama with its daily downpours that quickly passed by.

What has happened to this week? It seems that no sooner does a weekend pass, than another one pops up. Someone asked for the recipe for cold watermelon soup because, as I vaguely recall, I mentioned it recently, and that inspired me to quickly whip up a large bowl of it. Of course, it was readily eaten, although we have at least two more watermelons lying around. I did not see who came to mow the field, but it must have been Davey, for his tractor is still here. You have no idea how quickly everything grows here, and particularly now that we have been having enough rain.

I had to take the car in early this morning to get some work done on it and the manager, a kind and friendly woman, included some extra work for no extra charge. That was an unexpected bonus. Then I went to a place that specialized in glass, as a gravel truck tossed up a pebble the other day and created a chip on the windshield. This place was also very good, fixing the chip, then offering to fix the door handle at no extra cost. I almost began to worry, wondering why everyone was so considerate today. In the early evening we went out to the blueberry patch to check on the berries and, to our great delight, they had begun to ripen. Alas, the bramble bushes have taken over a large part of the field, but we still managed to pick a couple of buckets of berries. They are large, sweet and juicy, truly organic, as we never, in the more than twenty years that we have had them, fertilized or sprayed them. They grow in an area next to the water and the soil is damp and very acidic. These berries are far superior to the commercially grown ones and, besides, they are our very own.

It would seem that this is the first day of summer which, no doubt, will quickly pass by. As one ages, the seasons and years pass by more and more quickly, each day becoming closer to one's last day. The visitors of today brought food for us, fortunately nothing that will spoil, adding to what has been left over from the weekend. A number of items will be taken to the Senior Citizens' Centre. We feasted on Byelorussian khlodnyk, a cold beet soup with eggs, cucumbers, onions and dill, to which a bit of horseradish was added. It was delicious and there is enough for at least one more meal. Thomas is anxious to go to the blueberry patch, having been told that the berries are ripe.

MONDAY 20 JUNE 22016
I could have continued resting after yesterday's exhausting day, but it was Monday and work awaited us. An admirable job was done of cleaning up after yesterday's crowd of a couple of hundred people had left, and even the bride and groom helped the others. Today visitors came from Saskatchewan and we had a wonderful time reminiscing about "old times" which is what older people tend to enjoy. Davey tells us that the blueberries are ripe and we will try to pick some before the bears get them all. We try not to let anyone go to the berry patch alone, even though the black bears are, in theory, not dangerous, still one can easily be frightened by them.

What a day this has been. After worrying all week about the possible rain today, it turned out to be perfect. The morning was cool which made it comfortable in church, as it was crammed and overflowing. The services were long enough, of course, but they seemed to fly by quickly; aside from the festal service, we also had a crowning, after which a huge dinner was laid out on the upper lawn. Gradually, the clouds vanished and the sun came out, making this a perfect day. The decorations were impressive and especially the gate house where hay was scattered and an assortment of flowers placed upon it, much like what can be found in some of the monasteries in Russia. Among the people who were present, some had come from the US, Germany, France, Russia and Georgia, thus lending an international flavour. Yes, the day has been long, but we all enjoyed it immensely.

It has rained and drizzled all day, while we kept hoping for a change in the weather. Some say that it will be sunny tomorrow, or at least for part of the day. We were to have had a baptism this morning but, due to some unforeseen factor, we ended up with two baptisms at the same time. Still, a double baptism was perfect and both Zoe and Benjamin cried in unison. Meanwhile, the workers came for the Saturday work session and began the much needed cleaning that continued throughout the day. Even though it was raining, the men worked outdoors and they put up a huge canvas awning over a good portion of the upper lawn so that people could sit outdoors. They also washed the eight glass tables and dozens of lawn chairs that will be [we hope] used tomorrow. I believe that there were more than thirty of us as we sat down for lunch, after which the women continued decorating and preparing all that is needed at a wedding reception. Before serving Vespers we had a memorial service as is required on the eve of Pentecost. Now it is nearing bedtime and we pray that tomorrow will be a perfect day for all of us.

What a pleasant relief to have such a hot day, although rain is forecast for the weekend even though here it is difficult to predict what it might be like the following day. Later in the morning I drove to Chilliwack to bless Sasha's home and it was like being in the clouds, in an eagle's aerie, looking down on the city of Chilliwack and the Upper Fraser Valley. Just over the crest, in the Chilliwack River Valley is where the old monastery was located. When we lived there many years ago, there was little development, but now the mountain sides are covered with housing. By early evening Georgeta and Sorin arrived as did Alexander and Vanya to begin the preparations for the weekend. As it happened, Maxime brought us their refrigerator which we stored in the workshop, and now it is plugged in and filled with food for the feast. Thomas and Father Moses went to the monument to cut the grass while Elena and Tri are visiting with Vladika Lazar, having arrived from Olympia this afternoon.

Some medical appointments slowed us down a bit, otherwise we accomplished what should have been done long ago. The storage space under the stairs is large and it was crammed with boxes, bags and various papers. Over the winter, whenever anyone brought boxed pies, pizzas, etc. for the Agape meal, the cartons were chucked into the storage space. I did glance in a few times but did not realize what actually was there. Father Moses cut up the boxes so that we could put the paper products into recycling bags. There was even a large box of sweets, candies, and chocolates left over from the children's Yolka in January [yes, they were still tasty and had not spoiled!]. Sasha came with many of his things for the forthcoming wedding and he stayed on to mow the lawns, with the help of Thomas. I think that Jonathan managed to repair to leaking drain pipe which will be of great help.

I was pleased to hear about the Saturday work party being organized with a list of tasks to be done. At my age it is often overwhelming to even think about organizing something like this, but Natasha has all under control. Andy came over for a visit with his two beautiful dogs, Nine and Five, who look ferocious but really are like little puppies, at least with all of us here. My raspberry patch is doing quite well and I had a nice feed of the berries, although there could have been more. The wild morning glory vines have invaded the berries and it is a constant struggle to subdue them. Actually, one cannot, rather it is simply an attempt to keep them from spreading, otherwise they can cover an entire garden or even field.

Alas, Thomas was unable to get a photograph of the bear yesterday, as it ran into the woods quickly, but perhaps a future visit will be recorded. If nothing else, we are a little more cautious while walking about the monastery grounds because the bears can appear at any time of the day or night. We noticed that the pear tree is heavily laden with fruit and that will eventually attract the bears, at least when the fruit becomes ripe. Jonathan has been busy attacking the brambles that so easily overtake the yards, gardens and fields. Even though they produce delicious berries, they still are an aggressive nuisance.

It has been rather restful today after yesterday's busy and, at times, hectic periods although all in all, it had been a most interesting day. We took boxes of printed booklets and hundreds of copies of a best selling book "Twelve Great Feast Days for Young People" which has been reprinted over and over again, to our favourite bindery where the collating and binding should be completed in two or three days. As I was sitting at the computer not more than fifteen minutes ago, I noticed, through the corner of my eye, something moving outside and, indeed, it was a large black bear walking along the path behind the monastery buildings. I barely had time enough to phone Thomas who was able to photograph it [I hope].

What a beautiful day it has been with the weather being perfect and with a church packed full of worshippers. Vladika Lazar mentioned that the singing during Matins was so beautiful that it was a pity it had not been recorded and, really, it was powerful with the male voices blending into harmonious chanting. We were pleased to be visited by Bishop Sophrony of the Russian Orthodox Old Rite Church who, accompanied by Deacon Joseph and some lay people, stopped on their way to Alberta to visit their church in Hines Creek. Bishop Sophrony read from the Prologue that was donated to the Monastery, and he confirmed that it had been printed before the schism in Russia. George, whose profession is the restoration of artwork, books and furniture, has offered to restore this volume that has suffered over the years. Deacon Joseph had lived many years in Alaska among his fellow Old Ritualists, and now has moved to Oregon with his family to be near his children. Bishop Sophrony, being a well known iconographer, was interested in seeing some of our icons and looking at the large collection of books on iconography in the library.

Yes, it did feel chilly at times and I discovered that I was unwittingly wearing two sweaters. Sergey and Nikolai spent the night here so that they could get an early start with work this morning, but that stray cat kept them from getting a full night's sleep. The tiling has been almost completed by Nickolai and it will look great. We had a double baptism for the twins Valery and Victoria, who are a little more than a year old. They behaved wonderfully and their identical baptismal gowns of white with dainty embroidered flowers made them look most charming. Even though we had eaten at noon, the baptismal party brought food enough to feed an army. Later we had a memorial, with more food brought, and the women who came for Vespers brought what looked like several shelves of produce form a grocery store and more food to eat with tea. All in all, it was a great day although somewhat heavy on eating.

I wanted to take another look at the foot path that is being prepared behind the konak, the main dwelling. It is coming along well, although it does become steep at the end, and I did not venture farther but I am certain that once the men have installed some steps it will be easily manageable by even old people , such as me. Perhaps a bridge will eventually be built over the water so that one can make an entire circle with this path. Our "to be weds" came with a photographer who was shown the church , the hall and the lawns to make it that much easier, rather than being thrown into a situation at the very last moment without having had the chance to become acquainted with the surroundings. We had cold watermelon soup for supper [much liked by all of us] and sour dough bread that was so sour that it almost curled one's lips, or is the expression "puckered one's mouth"?

We celebrated the feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ with mainly women in attendance, together with a Russian Orthodox Old Believer family that we had not seen for a while. As one would expect, their children behaved admirably and later they tried to befriend the cats which they did with Stubs, the Manx cat, that is usually shy and avoids most visitors. Father Moses showed the children how to befriend this cat and it worked. As it is a major feast day, we rested and relaxed most of the day with daily worries and concerns banished from our thoughts. For a while the bullfrogs in the pond carried on their croaking loudly, as one would expect, and it is so evident why they received this particular name.

Four young women who attend services at the monastery have been studying day and night for the exams that they will be taking beginning tomorrow. Although they have completed their courses and exams for nursing, this one is for the entire continent and, needless to say, they are concerned. As a result, they have come to the monastery for prayers and a blessing, feeling that it would enable them to do their best. Over the years we have printed countless copies of a leaflet "Invitation to the Monastery" in English, then Russian and now we have finally printed it in Romanian. Actually we should have it in French as well, but I fear that my knowledge of the French language has lessened to such a degree that I would not be able to do it. Perhaps there is a kind soul out there who would volunteer to do it and, if so, please speak up.

I never tire of admiring the foxgloves that are scattered along our driveway, the white, pink and mauve flowers beckoning us to drive farther up the road and welcoming us with their beauty. This is a tall plant of the genus Digitalis with erect spikes of flowers that supposedly resemble glove fingers. But since they are biennial we will not be seeing them next year, unless they happened to have self seeded last year. It is difficult to stop buying plants to transplant and, moreover, there are some kind ladies who enjoy bringing us a variety of flowers, vegetable plants, and berry bushes, many of which they do the actual transplanting for us and it is somehow very comforting to walk out and pickup a few red currents, a couple of strawberries, or cherries and to eat them immediately in the fresh air of the morning before there is even any hint of oppressive heat.

After an exceedingly busy Sunday, it felt great to have a good night's sleep, although the fan kept running all night long for, without it, the air would have been too unbearable. Much more printing had to be done and, along with it, the collating, etc. We were surprised to find ripe cherries on two of the three old cherry trees and tomorrow Thomas intends to take a tall ladder to pick the ripest of the cherries. They are organic, since they are never fertilized, sprayed, or even taken care of. Vladika Lazar was quite proud of his cauliflowers, one of which he picked and steamed for himself. As soon as the rest of the cauliflowers are picked, the leaves and roots will be discarded, and more vegetables or flowers will be planted.

It has been very hot, about the mid 30s [mid 90s Fahrenheit] although it was bearable in church, buts the baptism in the afternoon did present some difficulty with the heat. Still, we managed and little Phillip was baptized in the new church as Grandmother Natalia is using a wheelchair and it would have been nigh impossible for her to navigate the steps up to the old church. Since there is no water, the men carried buckets of warm water from the kitchen and all went well. This also meant that there was a second meal offered and it is no wonder that losing weight is most difficult here.

Yes, the heat is almost oppressive but it is to be worse tomorrow and with the baptism tomorrow afternoon, it shall be uncomfortably hot. There is a bit of pressure in our midst, as an order was received for two hundred copies of a certain book, of which only a couple of dozen copies are left. This means that there is a lot of printing, collating, etc ahead. At supper I was spearing some slices of pickled beets when the bottom of the canning jar broke off and fell on the table, scattering beets and beet juice all over the table, the floor, and also myself. Thomas helped me to clean up the mess and now there is no trace of the disaster. The jar must have been faulty and at least I had on my oldest cassock which did not even show any of the red from the beets.

There was only one main event this day, as Vladika Lazar and I drove to Vancouver to attend the wedding of Julian and Anastasia. On the way to the church we stopped to see Yana, our iconographer, who showed us her latest works and we talked about the two icons that she will prepare for our monastery, the icons of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Basil the Great. The two icons of the Annunciation that she made for the church's royal gates have been admired by many people and, indeed, they are among her finest works. The wedding of Julian, a young member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, whom Vladika Lazar recently baptized, to Anastasia of a well known Russian family took place at the Holy Resurrection Sobor in Vancouver. Julian's family came down from northern British Columbia for this splendid occasion and it was a delight to meet them. I asked his grandfather about the small gold medal he was wearing and he explained that it was his family emblem, the beaver, while Julian is that of the wolf. We were unable to stay for the reception as it is a long drive back to the monastery.

After all the cool weather we have been having, today's announcement, or perhaps warning, that by Sunday it might rise to at least 32 degrees [95 Fahrenheit] which will have everyone calling for rain! There is much happening here and I cannot keep up with what is being printed, the landscaping, digging, levelling, etc. but it will end up being positive. I really do not acknowledge in these diary entries the mail that we receive, yet I must say that it was pleasant to hear from Reader Nicholas of Salt Lake City, whom we have know for what seems like half a century. Keep up the good work there! After Father Moses had some dental work done, we picked up a supply of food and took it to the seniors' centre where an annual meeting had just ended, with elderly folk milling about the centre and the grounds.

Can it really be June because if it is, then the longest day of the year is only about three weeks away. We always look forward to this even though we know that the days will become shorter and much hotter. Vladika Lazar is feeling better, his voice is returning, and he is regaining his former energy and,thankfully, he has not had any visitors yesterday or today which enables him to rest more. Tonight's supper had a tossed salad made entirely of our own greens. At least we have no courgettes [zucchinis] that, if a few seeds are planted, one ends up with dozens of this vegetable, many of which are foisted upon others, who perhaps have more of them in their own gardens. We were given a beautiful icon of Jesus Christ "Not Made By Hands" done by a dear friend John [Robert] Senger of Regina who is a talented iconographer, despite the physical pain he has to endure.

This is the last day of May and it has been an unusual month, for last week, one day stood out as the rainiest day of the year. The warm weather is back and we have already begun to complain about the heat. Last night Jonathan took Vladika Lazar to Emergency were the medical staff was able to work on his eyes, as they had shut so tightly that he could not open them. A serious sinus infection caused him to almost lose his voice and it also attacked his eyes. I drove to the hospital to pick him up at one a.m. but we still had to drive to Abbotsford to the only pharmacy that is open all night to pick up some special medication. I finally got to bed at three but was up before seven to take the car to get its signal light fixed. Needless to say, I have been fairly pokey during the day, yet quite a few things were accomplished.

MONDAY 30 MAY 2016
It seems that the entry for this day somehow disappeared, so I shall try to recreate it now. My monthly visit to the chiropractor was useful, as is each visit. The sun came out and our visitors were able to see the beauty of the Fraser Valley in all the sunshine. As for the rest of the day, it is difficult to recall what had transpired, so we shall make this entry brief.

SUNDAY 29 MAY 2016
The sun is out and all looks grand again. This Sunday the Divine Liturgy was served in Slavonic which of course meant that there were more confessions to be heard than usual. It was good to have Markel and Raisa back with us since they do so much to enhance the beauty of the service. At mealtime Monica brought a large armful of lovage that was quickly picked up, as it is a marvellous herb that should be found in every garden. The announcement of the marriage of Sasha and Anastasia was announced, much to the joy of everyone present. The women are already planning on having a meeting to prepare for the wedding banquet and all that goes into such planning. An Akathist to the Icon of the Iveron Theotokos was held in the old church with those present taking turns in reading. Directly after that, we had the baptism of little Alexandra and more visitors coming, Aurelia from Regina and Oleg from Kaliningrad.

In the middle of the night there was a sharp snap and I immediately knew what had happened; an unwelcome guest was caught eating the cheese that had been laid out for these intruders. As it happened, two of them were caught and promptly dealt with, thus reducing the number of field mice by two out of the hundreds that must be running about the surrounding fields. Then, a bear began making his [or perhaps her] calls that shortly stopped when I cried out through the window, not wanting any more of my sleep to be disturbed. We were well treated by some of the people who came for Vespers, bringing their food, along with two kinds of cheese that had been brought this week from a visit to Paris. Speaking of which, I have listened to the remarkable playing of the young Frenchman, Jean Rondeau, who has mastered the harpsichord. You can easily find him on YouTube. Jean Rondeau, malgre son jeune age, fait preuve d'une maturite, tant musicale qu'intellectuelle. Il a une sensibilite rare! [Sorry that I could not provide the diacritical signs.

FRIDAY 27 MAY 2016
The scattered showers and, at one point, a good downpour did nothing positive for our visitors, yet we did as much as possible indoors. Since nothing much was accomplished today, this is no doubt one of the shortest entries to be found in the Daily Diary.

I had to rise earlier than usual to see the eye specialist before he began to receive his regular patients. The result was fairly positive and he asked me to return in a few weeks to have another examination. As a Copt he was quite concerned about the recent attacks by Muslims against the Copts in southern Egypt, something that happens all too frequently. Even though they constitute about ten percent of the total population of Egypt, they have always been persecuted. Vladika Lazar has been busy with our out of country visitors, while Thomas mowed the lower lawn and trimmed the grass around the crosses before it began to rain. The plumbing problem has not yet been resolved and I hate to think of what might have to be done. Our cats are not at all pleased with the visits from a stray tabby cat whose presence is not appreciated by them and perhaps that will persuade it to leave.

I was pleased to hear from my eye specialist's office that I have an appointment with him tomorrow morning before he sees his regular patients. The other day my right eye suddenly grew dark and behaved strangely which made me think that it could be a detached retina. This particular specialist is excellent and treats us kindly and respectfully, as he is a Coptic Christian originally from Egypt. In the afternoon visitors arrived from the great state of Kansas where, by the way, there have been a number of tornadoes lately. We here in B.C. have not experienced them, although they apparently can be most frightening and dangerous. Parts of the basement in the main building were flooded and the consensus is that the drain pipes are still partially clogged. Andy and his plumber friend have been working on it and I hope that they can repair it quickly.

This is the day when we celebrate the feast of Saints Kyril and Methody, teachers of the Slavs as they are often called. It also happens to be the birthday of our dear friend Liudmila, as it was of my mother, long departed this life. At the border we sat amidst trucks and equipment from some carnival that seemed to be stranded right on the border, but they let us through quickly, no doubt assuming that we did not look like the carnival types. It was a relief to have Davey come to our rescue in the ongoing siege of the starlings who, as transplants from Europe, have taken over all of North America. If you do not know them, just realize that they are the aggressive birds that will be bothering you.

MONDAY 23 MAY 2016
We are celebrating Victoria Day this day which is a public holiday in Canada, commemorating the reign and life of Queen Victoria, the Grand Old Queen, although our present Queen Elizabeth II has already reigned longer than Victoria, her great-great grandmother. Some readers might not realize that Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Phillip, is of an Orthodox background and that his mother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark [yes, that was her official title] and also called Princess Alice of Battenberg, spent her last year s living in Buckingham Palace as an Orthodox nun. She had formerly founded the Christian Orthodox Sisterhood of Saints Mary and Martha, based on the work that her aunt, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia had done. After her death, and according to her wishes, she was buried at the Russian Orthodox Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, next to her aunt, now the Great Martyr Elizabeth.

SUNDAY 22 MAY 2016
Last night just before going to bed I heard a familiar sound outside and at once realized that it was a bear. Nothing could be seen in the dark, so I made some loud noises and the bear disappeared. There was something almost haunting about its sound. Quite a few people were absent from church on this holiday long weekend, but it was good to see those who did come, among them some who were here for the first time. It was a year ago that we buried an elderly gentleman and his family came to remember him, bringing memorial food to be shared with others. Somewhat later in the afternoon, we had a marriage service for Alyona and Olaf, a quiet and meaningful ceremony.

It could not have been more than 12 or 13 degrees [Celsius] today and it did feel more than just fresh outdoors. Still, the passion flower has begun to show its magnificent beauty and, although thought of as a semi tropical plant, it does well here. Andy brought three of his friends who worked much of the day in cutting down the blackberry brambles and widening the path behind the buildings that will go along the water and, perhaps eventually, across the bridge that might be put over the water. It is an undertaking that will assuredly be popular with everyone who comes here unless, of course, they will be physically unable to do so. We have had memorial services during the day with people bringing food, as is the custom with many to have a memorial meal after.

FRIDAY 20 MAY 2016
Sunday's prosphora was baked together with two loaves of bread. There are times when a large amount of dough is prepared with part of it set aside for the prosphora, while the rest has some added cardamom and caraway seeds with a touch of sugar and salt. The prosphora is dense so that cutting it leaves no crumbs, while the extra dough used for the loaves gives us a dense and fragrant bread which quickly disappears, it is that delicious. The two large floral arrangements that Anastasia made for Pascha were taken out, as many of the flowers had become quite limp. Father Moses removed them and, from the many other vases of flowers, he reassembled the two arrangements that once again look beautiful, although now there are flowers of many colours rather than the all white ones from Pascha. We have a number of young people with us, so there is activity in abundance. We met the young man who has bought the building where our Dewdney Post Office is located and it is assuring to hear from him that he wants to renew the building and do something positive with it, as the sleepy little village had begun to permanently fall asleep.

The weather has been good for gardening, not too hot, with occasional light showers and little sun. Our grape vines will probably produce an abundant crop this year, as they did last year, when previously the few clusters that did appear seldom tasted fully ripe. The feeder for the hummingbirds had to be refilled as the birds are being attracted to it more and more. At one point all four openings were being used when a fifth hummingbird flew in and tried to oust a couple of the birds. Naturally, I wanted to capture this on camera, but would they cooperate? No, the minute the camera appeared they fled and I was not about to stand still for any length of time, hoping that they would return. Thomas has been restoring a large wooden Serbian cross that will be sanded and varnished so that it can be put in a special area of the monastery grounds. Our new Romanian cross, a troitsa, so kindly made by our dear friends, will remain in the church until a cover is made to protect it at the Holy Well.

How good it was that almost no one came today, as there are times when one needs space and rest. That is not to say that nothing was done, no, on the contrary, I stacked the wood that Sergei had split recently and it reminded me of my youth when that was a necessary and important task. Wednesday tends to be the beginning of preparation for the following weekend with vacuuming in both churches and the main halls and rooms. The last finishing touches are done on Saturdays so that all is as spic and span as possible for Sunday.

My little Kodak camera was recharged and ready for more photography, as there is so much that can be filmed at this time of the year. After the outdoor filming session, I photographed the mounted exhibit of the ten small icons, showing the various steps in painting an icon, from the bare wood panel to the completed icon. Then I brought out the two volumes of the Prologue or readings for each day of the month that had been given to us by the late Father Oleg Kotov, who in turn had received them from an Athonite monk who legally brought them from Mount Athos in 1961. Another item was a Gospel in Church Slavonic printed in the 1880s for Serbian usage under the rule of Emperor Franz Joseph. The last item is the most interesting one, another Prologue that was printed in the reign of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich, and authenticated as a genuine Russian Old Ritualist tome. It was donated by a kind family and a gentleman whose profession is the restoring of artwork and furniture has graciously volunteered to restore it.

MONDAY 16 MAY 2016
After a very tiring weekend I was looking forward to a long and restful night only to experience restlessness and an awakening earlier than usual. It was not too difficult during the day, however, although a couple of times I almost fell asleep at the table. Still, it was possible to prepare a large batch of skin cream since there was none available for at least three weeks due to a lack of jars, but last week a side trip to Richmond provided us will all the necessary jars for some time to come. Thomas was busy painting parts of the Gate Chapel that needed some attention for some time, but no one wanted to climb up onto the roof so he readily volunteered to do so. We have allowed a couple of tree cutting outfits to leave their wood chips here where they are used as mulch for plants and other uses. One of the men dropped in to ask for permission to continue bringing chips and he got into a conversation with Father Moses on the similarity between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. That was all that the generally mild Father Moses needed to hear and he spoke out loudly and clearly with an almost missionary zeal to explain that the differences were far greater than any similarities.

SUNDAY 15 MAY 2016
I thought that this day would never end, not that it is a complaint, but so much has taken place. We did our best without our Reader Markel, although we heard that he will be back this week, so that next Sunday should be back to what it has always been. After the Agape meal we had the Meleti, or spiritual talk, several lengthy confessions and talks with people, an Akathist to the Myrrhbearing Women in Romanian, a blessing of a vehicle, and finally a baptism. Even though it is already six o'clock, a few people have still remained behind which pleases us. Little Vanya gave us a brief talk on the broken hammer he discovered on a deserted beach, and its possible historical significance. Little Andrey was quite boisterous during the baptism and he cried for a greater part of it, wearing a special baptismal gown that his grandmother had brought from Minsk.

I am almost falling asleep at the computer as today's diary entry is being written even though it is still early enough in the evening. Vladika Lazar and I set out for Vancouver early this morning and it was fortunate that we did not tary as an accident on the highway detained us for quite a while. We arrived at the cemetery where several hundred people had already gathered for a memorial service for Luka who was killed last year in Whistler. It is so sad to think that his unfortunate death was due to the fanaticism of a Bosnian Muslim who, finding out that Luka was Serbian Orthodox, stabbed him as he walked out of a store. Later there was a memorial meal at the home of his parents in Burnaby where we saw many familiar faces. After that, we went to the Serbian Centre where a May celebration of the end of the Second World War took place with many talented singers and musicians taking part. By the time we arrived back at the monastery there were visitors waiting for us who had come for the Vespers service and stayed on until we arrived. Now it is time for a well earned rest.

FRIDAY 13 MAY 2016
There are still people who fear the date of Friday the thirteenth, no matter what month it might be, but today had actually been a very good day for us. Perhaps the only snag was at the builders' supply store when, at the very moment when payment was to be made, power was lost and, even though they had generators for the lights, the computers and tills did not operate. Consequently, the purchases had to be paid for and picked up later in the day. Massimo, our favourite plumber, is on holiday in Italy and will not back for a week, so he was replaced by his assistant and also his older son to do some outdoor work. The floral arrangements that were prepared for Pascha are doing very well, with just a few of the more delicate flowers removed.

It had been an exceedingly long day, but one filled with various experiences. First off we stopped in Richmond to buy a crate full of jars and lids for the skin cream that we make, after which we drove to Vancouver for a funeral. It was a quiet service for a Serbian man who had recently reposed. On the way out of town we stopped at a familiar East Indian restaurant to have an early supper of food from a vegeterian buffet. No sooner than arriving back at the monastery, visitors came for prayers, so it has indeed been a long but rewarding day.

While painting a few more memorial crosses, I watched several hummingbirds trying to claim the feeder for themselves. There are four places where they can extract the liquid but, like so many humans, each one wants all for itself and thus they chase each other away, using unnecessary strength that could be utilized elsewhere. Even a wasp joined in, chasing a couple of birds away. Some time ago I bought a nest [?] of praying mantis eggs and today I took the first step of getting the eggs to hatch. I really do hope that it will be successful, as these insects are beneficial in the garden. Finally one of Heiko Schlipper's projects was completed, a display of ten small icons of the Theotokos, showing the steps in executing the icons, from the beginning with the bare board, the next one showing the grouting, the polishing, and all the stages until the last finished icon. It is hanging in the hall so that all can see it as an educational exhibit.

TUESDAY 10 MAY 2016 Today could be described as a perfect early summer day, with warmth from the sun, yet a fresh breeze keeping us comfortable. A brief stop at Dollarama, one of many so called "dollar stores" throughout the valley, proved to be of use, as it had many items of quality which I did not expect to find. Noticing a special sprayer, I seized it to use on the many vases of flowers that we have. After the weekend's successful event, we managed to save enough flowers to fill seven large vases and with the several Paschal vases, there is much spraying to be done to freshen the flowers. The census questionnaires that were left for us to fill out have been completed and will be picked up tomorrow, as will be the backpack that one of the students from the Catholic Abbey left behind on Sunday. Some people are very much against this, feeling that they are expected to reveal private information, but really, there is nothing private in the forms and the information can be useful for future planning.

Last night at about ten o'clock we lost our power when a sudden strong wind arose, and we were later told that a large tree had been blown over a power line. There was nothing to do but to retire early and, at three thirty at night all the lights suddenly came on but I could not fall asleep for a couple of hours. These power outages always take us by surprise and each time we vow to be prepared for the next one, but we seldom are. Gardening was important this day as more flowers were transplanted and everything watered. The one thing I dislike most about summer is the constant watering, but it is necessary to keep all the beautiful plants alive.

After yesterday's heat it was nice to feel a cool breeze early this morning which lasted throughout the entire day. Not quite everything had been prepared for this morning's Matins, so there was some scrambling to be done. By the time the Liturgy began there must have been no more than a dozen people in church, perhaps an ominous sign that the civil Mothers' Day holiday was going to overshadow the Liturgy was possible. Yet, in just a few minutes the church was filled and we completed the service, followed by prayers for travel, ssnging Many Years for Thomas,whose nameday is it, then a brief memorial service, for although Radonitsa [the traditional service for the departed] is served on Tuesday, we know that almost no one can come, so we held it today instead, much to the pleasure of our people. The Agape meal was plentiful and we were joined by half a dozen senior high school students from the Roman Catholic Abbey nearby who visited with us, having the chance to speak with Vladika Lazar. I neglected to mention that at the very end of the service we all processed outdoors to the Holy Well where the water was blessed for the feast of the Life Bearing Spring and also for the new icon and kiot affixed to the cedar tree next to the spring.

Today had been designated as the day to celebrate victory over the Nazis, something that had been done for decades in Eastern Europe, but is now being ignored in many areas due to rising nationalism and, alas, the growth of neo-Naziism. During last year's celebration a beautiful white dogwood tree was planted and which now is covered in white blooms. By nine in the morning, some women had arrived to prepare food and, in general, to deal with last minute arrangements. By noon, the veterans arrived and we proceeded to the monument where a short memorial service was held, followed by the laying of flowers and the planting of another dogwood tree opposite the previous one. There must have been at least 150 people present with many photos and videos taken. The meal was to have been a reminder of wartime food, yet there was so much prepared and brought that it looked more like a banquet. A short concert followed and people left with a remembrance of the war years and all the suffering that was endured and the countless loss of lives. Everyone hoped that their children would be able to feel at least partially all that our veterans had endured. All the volunteers must be thanked for their generous contribution.

FRIDAY 6 MAY 2016 It has been disturbing to read about and to watch what is happening in Fort McMurray and the terrible forests fires that are devouring the city and vast area nearby. In our own modest way we have begun to help the thousands who were evacuated, knowing that our assistance would be only a drop in the bucket. Alexei, a visitor from Moscow, and who is a descendent of the Don Cossacks, brought us some beautiful objects from the Nilo-Stolobensky Monastery in Russia. It is a monastery that has been restored where once boats were used for Cross Processions as it is situated on a small island. The dogwood tree that is to be planted tomorrow by the veterans has been brought and a hole dug for it. Some women are coming in the morning to prepare food for the meal.

THURSDAY 5 MAY 2016 Today's gentle weather encouraged me to do some gardening, pulling up weeds, especially the monstrous wild morning glory vines that grow not by the inch, but by the foot and are found everywhere. This obnoxious weed, pretty as it is with its heart shaped leaves and pure white flowers, used to be given the name of "the devil's guts" because it is so persistent and difficult to destroy. In the afternoon I had to do some shopping and, before you could say "bob's your uncle" most of the afternoon passed by. Sorin dropped by with his chain saw to saw the logs still lying about and to drag them over to the wood pile. Andy has spent time cleaning up around the monument in preparation for Saturday's event with the veterans.

I drove alone across the border to mail some books and it was almost unbelievable that there was not a single vehicle waiting to cross the border. It took only a few minutes at the post office, then I stopped at a dairy [not diary] outlet to buy a couple of large blocks of cheese. Noticing that all the customers were taking out ice cream cones, I decided to treat myself to one as well. There were about twenty flavours and it was difficult to make a decision, so I asked for a cone of chocolate peanut butter nut special, but just in a childrens' size. Much to my amazement, the size looked more suitable for a Japanese wrestler, but I did not refuse. Half way through eating it, I felt my moustache and beard getting sticky, and when I glanced in the rear view mirror, I was horrified, for the whole area around the mouth had a chocolate colour. At least I had some tissues so that it could be wiped off. At the border I was sure that they would noticed the chocolate colour but nothing was said, other than if I wished to speak in English or French because I had unknowingly said, "Bonjour" and thereupon I began with a lengthy explanation of how, fifty five years ago I had taught French in a French speaking community in Alberta, and never using it since, I have forgotten most of it. Elderly people do often go off on a tangent.

What a joy it was to have the computer running again, Thomas having fixed it in nothing more than a jiffy. The lack of many visitors today was made up for by a stream of telephone calls which are easier than actual visits. Our two refrigerators are crammed with all sorts of Paschal baking, but I noticed that the crispers are full of vegetables, so that tomorrow we can have a good and healthy salad. Every year I tell myself that I will quickly gather up all the service books for Holy Week and Pascha and return them to their designated boxes and, each year, I fail to do so, leaving it off for a couple of days. This means that tomorrow I should make an attempt to gather them [many are hiding in the most unexpected places] and store them until next year's celebration

There was little time for rest as we served a Paschal memorial service for Georgeta's father who had passed away four years ago. Then, she and her mother Maria, went with me to the Mission Senior Citizens Centre, having brought what amounted to two full car trunks of provisions for the elderly. The woman in charge there was overwhelmed by the generosity of all that had been donated to feed the elderly. More visitors came during the day and, by early evening, I felt rather like a zombie and so I had to retire early. The computer, meanwhile was still not functioning

As soon as the entire church was in complete darkness, Vladika Lazar came out of the altar with a triki and he chanted the verse about receiving the light. The servers immediately lit their candles from this triki and went into the midst of the congregation, so that all could quickly light their own candles, meanwhile the church was still in darkness. The bells began to peal and we all processed out into the darkness of the night with the stars shining brightly in the sky and the frogs accompanying us as we sang "The Resurrection, O Christ..." We slowly went along the road lined with solar solar lights on either side, showing us the edge of the road and keeping anyone from straying too far off and falling into the water. We returned to the church, the epitaphos and other things having been put away by those who had volunteered to remain to do this, and we walked into the brightly illumined church to begin the service with "Christ is Risen!" being proclaimed and sung in many languages. Our fears that we might not manage without our reader, Markel, were unfounded because the chanters on the kliros did very well, as did the group of Georgian who sang heartily in their own language. With two chalices for Communion, the steady stream of communicants joyously received the Holy Gifts. At the end of the service all the baskets of food were blessed downstairs, the food that had been set out in the hall for the breaking of the fast was blessed, and all began to eat the rather rich food that had been prohibited during the Great Fast [by way of interest, our word for breakfast, what we eat each morning, is derived from the expression "to break the fast", something many are unaware of]. Close to a dozen women stayed to clean up after the meal, while several men gathered the garbage and vacuumed all the floors in preparation for the afternoon service. I left shortly before five while others were still busy with cleaning and it was soon thereafter that I turned out my light and instantly fell asleep. Meanwhile, the Georgians had been at their bonfires near the barn where they had prepared Caucasian shashliki while singing heartily, as our neighbours testified later in the day. At six thirty Vladika Lazar telephoned me to say that he had unbearable cramps in his legs, so I quickly dressed and rushed over to the konak to see if I could be of any help. Fortunately the cramps began to ease off and so I was able to return to sleep more, but I could not, so I spent all of Sunday with just an hour and a half of sleep, invigorated by the wonderful feast. By ten o'clock a number of people arrived with their baskets to be blessed and this continued throughout the day, at one point there were at least fifty people gathered together for this blessing and many stayed on to share the food they had brought, including a raw kulich [paschal bread] made with nuts and fruit by a woman whose family eats only uncooked food! After four o'clock we began serving the Pachal Vespers and I was taken aback by the number of people who had either stayed for this service or else had come for it. A meal was then served with many of the leftovers from the breaking of the fast and, again, many stayed on to visit so that I finally retired at midnight. What a glorious day it was and to all of you we proclaim "Christ is Risen!" with the response "Truly He is Risen!"

Because there were difficulties with this computer, it was locked until the morning of May 3 [today] when Thomas was able to resolve the issue in no more than five minutes and we are immensely grateful to him for this important deed. Now, I shall use my memory to relate what transpired these past few days. The Saturday morning Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great was attended by a few people, with much of the rest of the day spent in last minute preparations. We did try to get some rest, knowing that the night service would be long. Anastasia, as usual, prepared two large floral arrangements of various white flowers, one for each of the icons of Jesus Christ and the Theotokos on the iconostas. Between seven and eight o'clock people began to arrive, wishing to be present if any help was needed and by eleven o'clock readings from the Book of Acts began in various languages, including, for the first time, Georgian, as a large group of Georgians had already arrived. At midnight the church was crowed with many standing outdoors as all the lights were extinguished in anticipation of what was to follow.

We have had people here all day, from morning until evening, working, cleaning and getting the last details completed before Pascha. Several women spent hours decorating the tomb with long garlands of flowers, a custom that has been maintained for many years. Every last spot on the carpets was cleaned and everything looks as it should be. Although it sprinkled a few times during the day, we were able to have a Cross procession during the evening service. I was sorry to see fewer people in attendance than usual, but many do not wish to drive here two nights in a row and instead they visit the churches in the city. God willing, tomorrow will be another story, as they say.

It has been a long, tiring, yet eventful day, with a Divine Liturgy in the morning and the special evening service of the reading of the Twelve Gospels. All these services during Holy Week can seem to be burdensome and taxing if one allows them to be so, but really they are revealing, uplifting, instructive, inspirational and blessed. The entire week passes so quickly that all of a sudden we are at Pascha's doorstep. Already we have been brought organic eggs, beautifully decorated and dyed with onion skins, over forty of them. I had forgotten to ask people to bring eggs for Pascha, and now we have a good start on this.

Summer must be atriving, as I have hauled out the floor fan without which I could not survive, since I have no air conditioning, nor so I want it. Our thicket, which is almost like a secret thicket, is showing all its beauty right now. The gigantic rhododendron with its dark rose coloured blooms peers out from behind other bushes, with lilacs and azaleas surrounding it. The Healing Service was held tonight with a very large crowd in attendance, more than I could ever have hoped. Most people took swabs dipped in the Holy Oil to their homes to have on hand to anoint themselves when necessary or to anoint others who were not able to come.

This week it is Vladika Lazar's turn to end up in our local emergency ward. He is suffering from bronchial inflammation and the doctors have told him to rest which he needs, as this is the busiest week of the entire church year. But, as always, we manage to pull through somehow and end up on a bright note. Thomas got a fright as the wood pile collapsed next to him, creating great noise and wood scattered in all directions. Vladika spoke to the Brocks in Bellingham and learned that they had celebrated their sixty fifth wedding anniversary, an event seldom attained by married couples. After apologizing for my lapsed memory yesterday, I was given another session at the clinic this morning and I just happened to drop in to the neighbouring nursery for a minute where I purchased two types of Russian sage for our little Russian garden. I hope to add some camomile later, as it is considered to be almost the national flower of Russia.

After yesterday's services and becoming tired, I completely forgot about my early appointment with the chiropractor today, but they are kind and have rescheduled me for tomorrow. Of the various visitors who came today, an interesting one was a woman who owns a Russian bear dog, a breed that I had never heard of before. She brought it with her from Moscow and it is her special pet. Since it is black, furry and large, people often mistake it for an actual bear. She said that the other day the police rushed up to her and told her that she was being followed by a bear, only to discover that it was her pet dog. The second of the Bridegroom Services was held tonight, as we progress farther into Holy Week.

These diary entries are usually made at the end of the day or at least as late as possible, but today's entry is being prepared at six o'clock, because there might not be enough time left after the Bridegroom Service. It has been a wonderful day, somewhat cool with a refreshing rain in the morning. I doubt that another person could have been squeezed into the church for the Palm Sunday Liturgy and, since it is the last Sunday of the month, it was served in Slavonic. We feared that there could be problems without our regular reader but, on the contrary, all went splendidly. People came from all over, from Horseshoe Bay and from Seattle, not to mention other outlying areas. After the Cross Procession we had an abundant Agape meal, followed by an Akathist Service in the old church. A number of people are still here, waiting for the Bridegroom Service that will begin in an hour.

Too often matters are left to the last minute to be completed, rather than doing it all at a leisurely pace. Today might have been such an occasion, but instead all the vestments for Holy Pascha were examined and spot cleaned where necessary, then put up on hangers to keep all the pieces together. We have two three branched candle holders that are used during censing and they had to be cleaned of all the accumulated wax. We had a fright during Vespers when Vladika Lazar came out for the Litiya, loosing his balance and falling down on the solea. Men rushed to help him up during this tense moment, but Vladika stoically carried on with the service, not wishing to cause any confusion. Let us hope that it will not reoccur. Tomorrow the Liturgy will be in Slavonic and I wonder how we shall manage without Reader Markel who is visiting Moldova with his wife Raisa. Notes and reminders have been left all over the readers' stand to help those who will be doing their utmost in the reading and singing, but if anything goes even slightly awry it will simply prove that we are human, and as the saying goes---to err is to be human.

It was confession time this morning which led to a pleasant visit later. Especially at this time, confession is so necessary for most and how joyous it is when people come at any time of the day for confession, preferably telephoning first to see if it is convenient. Because of my present condition it is most uncomfortable to wear a wristwatch and thus I pulled out my old pocket watch from the dresser drawer but, alas, its battery was dead. No one in town could do anything with it, as something had jammed, so I borrowed an old windup watch that had once been given to Vladkia Lazar by our local antiquarian. Although, so others tell me, I look venerable carrying it in my vest pocket on the end of a fob-chain, I keep looking at my left wrist where the watch is no longer there. We had what was probably the best Presanctified Liturgy with many people present and with contrite singing.

I had good news this morning and some less good, that is, all the tests that I was subjected to recently have shown that all is well with me. On the other hand, I do have a condition that is so rare that my doctor had never encountered it before in his entire practice. It is a rare form of subcutaneous vein inflammation that breaks out in a rash, and can appear without any warning, and no one is sure how this happens. It is good to know, however, that it is not dangerous, but more of a nuisance. So much for today's medical report. We were offered another kitchen range and a refrigerator, but a decision has not yet been made. Aside from about a three hour spate of telephone calls received this afternoon, there is not much more to say.

The day began with a donation, mainly of babies' clothing, being brought to the monastery to be given to anyone who might be in need of them. We were also given an expensive espresso coffee maker, but lately no one drinks much coffee, all of us having become basically tea drinkers. Still, a good home will be found for this coffee maker. Much more work was done with the lawns. Visitors from out of town and also from out of country came mid afternoon, and they were given a tour of the monastery. It was a surprise to see how many of us there were at the Presanctified Liturgy, enduring the heat which abated somewhat as the service progressed, thanks to the open windows and doors and the one fan someone found in the storage room.

I awoke at three in the morning with a strange feeling that all was not well and it was not, especially when I saw the red rash on my body, so I quickly drove to the Emergency Room at our local hospital where I was examined, given medication and then sent home. Since I had only about four hours of sleep, I was groggy all day and, at times. feeling like a zombie. Yet, nothing could keep me away from the Healing Servce held at the Holy Apostles Mission in Chilliwack. Together with Vladika Lazar, Father Moses and Thomas, I arrived there in time to meet a number of people and to see some familiar faces. The service itself was inspiring with six priests and two hierarchs in attendance. Father Matthew and his parishioners have done well in converting a church school into an Orthodox temple and we all wish them every success in their mission's growth which is not always that simple in our age. On our way back, we stopped for gas at a service station and the attendant asked me who I was, thinking that I might be an Orthodox Jew. I agreed that I was Orthodox, but a Christian one, so he had to tell me of his pagan beliefs, once again leaving me to believe that our life is not that simple, but having just anointed so many people and being anointed myself, I had a grace-filled blessing to witness in the world, even amongst pagans!

The heat has arrived as we readily noticed even early in the morning. Throughout the day, refuge could be found in the shade where the breeze was at least comfortable yet, in spite of the heat, I decided to take a long walk to the monument in the field, taking photographs of scenery and blooming brushes and trees as I went along the road. A large truck from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife drove passed me and stopped in our parking area where they said that many of the minnows that they had put into our stream did return, so the prospect for the fish to return each year looks better than ever. I believe they added more of them today. Nicholae mowed most of the lawns but Thomas raked up the grass that had been strewn about, and probably will finish it tomorrow. Andy brought us some of his home grown mushrooms, although I cannot recall what they are called,still they made for a delicious supper.

I believe that we were promised a scorcher today, yet it was really quite comfortable all day. The Matins service was excellent because we had, for most of the time, six male voices at the kliros, blending into a powerful and majestic sound. Usually churches have choirs that tend to be dominated by women and their voices are different, while here we had vibrant singing. Among the saints commemorated today was Saint Joseph the Ill of the Far Caves of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and so I brought his relics from the old church. Reader Irenaeos gave today's sermon which was very well thought out and well received by those who were present. After the Agape meal we had the usual Meleti, followed by a singing rehearsal for Holy Pascha. For the rest of the afternoon, we were available for personal conversations with both those who were here and also with those who simply dropped in. It is now 6pm and I feel exhausted after being in church and speaking with people for over nine hours.

I forgot to mention in last night's entry that I am very proud of our Luke who has been serving in the altar ever since he was about six years of age and he continues to do so. During the Presanctified Liturgies, he has asked his father to replace him while he stands at the kliros to read and to sing. It is seldom that one can find a 17 year old young man who is so interested in all aspects of the Church. It also helps that his ear has an almost perfect pitch. It has been a quiet day for a Saturday, but, as usual, there enough for all of us to do. Thomas has almost cleared the lower patio that had become overgrown with ivy so that, once again, it can be a place to rest and to enjoy viewing the scenic water and field in front.

The happiest man here has been Thomas who received clearing from the RCMP for a name change, so that he is now Thomas Christian, and he is so proud of this name, something that he had been dreaming about for a long time. Many more people were here for the Presanctified Liturgy than I had expected and some stayed until almost 10:30 pm. Our boys from down the road, Davey and Eric, joined us for the supper meal which they enjoyed because they feel that we are a family for them. It has been somewhat cool today and, during the service, I kept my hands mostly hidden in the depth of the ryassa sleeves which did not offer that much warmth. Now that it is 11 pm it is bedtime as tomorrow promises to be a day full of activities.

There is a small vestry in the new church meant only for the vestments that are currently being used, however, over the weeks and months, it becomes more and more crowded as we forget to return many of them to the large vestry in the old church. This task, which had been ignored for ages, was finally tackled today when Father Moses and I carried armfuls of vestments to the old vestry. This also gave me an opportunity to examine them and to see which might need cleaning or some repair work. Thomas will empty out a three drawer cupboard in his room that is full of old vestments and I will examine them tomorrow. In addition, the three or four dozen cloths used for carrying icons in processions, large cloths, etc were also checked and put away. All the icons that were used in the procession on the Sunday of Orthodoxy were put away on the high shelves in the vestry.

Much of the morning was dedicated to confessions for people who came from other parishes and who wanted to have a monastery confession before Pascha. They also spent much time in the old church, reverencing all the holy relics. I suddenly remembered the jars of seeds that I had collected last year from various flowers, and I shall give them to Andy who is anxious to scatter them all over our property. Jonathan, Seraphim and Olga drove here this morning for a visit and I was surprised to see how much Olga has grown and matured now that she is three years old.

My family doctor wanted to be certain that I am still in adequate health, so he sent me for a series of tests and exams to determine my general state of health. I must say that all the hospital staff was polite and helpful. Today the air is fresher, although there still is a lingering presence of yesterday's "farmyard" smell. Davey had mowed the area around the memorial and along the road which makes it all look splendid. I noticed the appearance of figs on our Turkish fig tree, tiny that they are at this stage. It all looks so promising and joyous, the only negative thought being that in a couple of months the days will be getting shorter.

Our newly wedded couple from Vladivostok came this morning to have their new van blessed before they set out on a trip to Ottawa, driving much of the way through the U.S. This is the second vehicle they have had that comes from Japan, but not as an import, rather, it has its steering wheel on the right side which sometimes freaks out people who see a car moving, but with no driver in the driver's seat. We drove Jason to Bellingham, across the border, were he is to catch a flight back to California. We all enjoyed his stay here with us and, God willing, he may be back again one day. Kostya and his brother came to look for the lost drone, bringing along a large weed and brush cutter in the hope of making it easier to locate it. Actually, I was not here when they left, so I cannot tell if they found the drone. By evening, the air was filled not with the fragrance of flowers and blossoms, rather it was the pungent smell of cow manure being spread on the nearby fields. Probably by morning, most of the smell should disappear.

One can tell that it has turned warm, as we began our service with the double doors wide open, something that would have been impossible not long ago. Each Sunday we get visitors from various places, and today we had people from Taganrog [it took a few moments before I could recall where this city is located] where Anton Chekhov was born. Another visitor had a drone with a camera mounted on it, filming the area around the monastery, but it seems that it crashed into the stream and some young men have been searching for it. Quite a few left immediately after the service, although many stayed behind for the Agape meal and the Meleti. As it happened, today's pot luck assortment had more than its share of soup. One that I prepared yesterday proved popular, the one with stinging nettle, although at the last minute I added the pilav with its nuts and raisins, making it an unusual "oriental" dish!

Our back corridor was beginning to fill up with garbage bags which is not such a good idea, especially when it is hot outdoors. Andy dropped in with a friend and hauled it all away, freeing us for the time being at least. There is much garbage generated here, what with the Sunday crowds and others leaving behind a great deal of recyclable items, non recyclable items, and plain garbage. We do not have a compost pit or any other such thing because of the bears around us. Several people came to work outside so that the lawns, yards and other areas are looking better all the time. Some who had come to work and to stay for supper brought food for us, even though I had prepared our yearly feast of stinging nettle soup. We have been warned that the bears are out and leaving their "calling cards" behind.

I finally got to see my family doctor not because he is difficult to get an appointment with, rather, I keep procrastinating in seeing him. As usual, he was friendly and most helpful, in fact, it was almost like a lecture that could have occurred at a medical school. The outcome is that I am still alive and should be for some time and any problems that arise will be dealt with immediately. All this is comforting to know. The Presanctified Liturgy was very well attended and it included a family that lives far from us but that is hoping to move closer to the monastery. My mobile phone had begun to fail some time ago, so Thomas gave me his old one which, in turn, completely died yesterday. Although I began looking for a new one today, Thomas surprised me by buying me a new phone which will take a bit of getting used to.

We were promised hot weather today and in the early morning the sun was warm, yet the breeze felt quite cool. Raisa was first to arrive and we began to prepare for the hours when Father Matthew walked in, much to our delight. And, there was almost no one else, but slowly people trickled in until there was a sizable crowd. The Georgian men arrived late, having become lost due to their GPS sending them in the opposite direction. The service was good as was the Agape meal after, as we gathered in the big hall. Later on, a service of thanksgiving was served for which more than a dozen people stayed. This being the feast of the Annunciation, the feeling in general was quite festive and, since this is one of the two times that we are allowed fish during Great Lent, there was plenty of it. And how wonderful it was to have had Father Matthew serving together with us.

A marvellous donation has been made to the monastery, a December, January and February menaion in Church Slavonic. We have not yet been able to determine its age, but it is leather bound and on thick paper. The donors had it examined in Russia before coming here and museums had hoped to get it. It seems to be at least from the seventeenth century but as there are a couple of pages missing at the end, it is difficult to say,. We shall try to have it repaired and restored, as it is a treasure. As it so happens, a man who comes to services here specializes in art restorations and perhaps he can take this upon himself.

While driving through the countryside and on to the city, I was overwhelmed by the beauty surrounding us. Colour was everywhere, various shades of green among the trees and countless shrubs and trees breaking out in various colours. Many have often said that once people see this spring beauty here, they fall in love with it. The slight drizzle kept us from any gardening, although there was enough to do indoors. We were given a bag of men's shoes in good condition, but they were size seven, a size too small for all the men around here. As with many other donations, if we cannot give them to someone immediately, they are taken to one of the thrift shops where they can be put to good use.

Each Monday begins with a mental list of things to be done both on this day and during the week, but it seldom works, plans suddenly change, or visitors drop by. I actually attacked an area off the refectory that had become a storage space. Whenever anyone brought something, whether needed or not, the easiest thing to do was to "shove it around the corner," where boxes and bags gathered until today. Whatever was not needed went on its way, while the necessary things had to be put where they belonged. We were pleased that some young people came by and stayed with us for supper which was hurriedly prepared.

This was the first Sunday when we did not have to start a fire in the wood burning stove, as it was warm enough without that extra heat. It is a shame that not more people attend Matins, for there is much wonderful chanting during this service, although one can understand that many hesitate to arrive for a three hour Matins and Liturgy service. A number of Georgians were present and, for the blessing of the Agape food, the Georgian reader was asked to recite the Lords' Prayer in the Georgian language. We also had a practice session with the Paschal service and, on the whole, it was not bad at all, although we will continue to practise for the rest of the month.

We had another work party out today even though several people were down with the flu and could not come. The apple trees needed pruning, while the pear tree is doing well on its own, having been fertilized earlier. The reception room finally got a good scrubbing and cleaning as did other areas of the main building. Natasha, whom I sometimes call "captain" because she is always in control of every situation, brought along her clippers, as she is a professional hairdresser and stylist, in case anyone needed a haircut and, indeed, there was a volunteer. She gave Jason a haircut that made him look quite different, almost like the fleecing of sheep, but he claims that his hair grows back quickly. A number of Ukrainian and Bulgarian women came for Vespers and we had a nice chat later. The members of the work party brought much food for our supper and perhaps the most interesting dish was one from Kazakhstan. Our neighbours came with their friends to work on the bridge that they are building over the near stream that will lead onto the path through the woods.

When I was a child the first day of April was full of fun and known as April Fool's Day when kids liked to fabricate tales, then shout out, "April Fools". Gone are those naive days and now there is almost no mention of this day, other than it being the first day of April. We took a supply of canned and preserved food to the Seniors' Centre where it was gladly received and there, to my surprise, was an acquaintance of ours, preparing to run their annual general meeting. Their kitchen is well equipped and they will be expanding their outreach to the elderly and needy. My hummingbird feeder was washed and sterilized, then filled with the sweet liquid that these birds so much enjoy. It will be interesting to see which ones will claim ownership of the feeder and try to chase away others.

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