I was up early this morning to get ready for a visit to my eye specialist in Abbotsford and Father Moses agreed to accompany me. As we began to cross the Fraser River, the gentle snow suddenly turned into a wall of white, making it almost impossible to see ahead and remember, this was on the bridge so there was no turning back. Soon after crossing the river, the snow quickly dissipated and we soon arrived at our destination. All went well with this first examination of my eyes. Vladika Lazar told me that there are many readers of this diary in Romania, so I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who so faithfully read this diary. There are times when I feel that there is nothing to write about and yet, this diary has been continuing for many years. Do have patience with me if it ever becomes uninteresting. Having thanked the Romanians, I should also thank those in Russia, Germany and elsewhere who read this diary, for being interested in some of the smaller incidents in our monastery life. By the way, the ravens are back and creating mischief, so we shall have to learn how to live with them.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2019. Although we were warned that it might snow today, we kept hoping that it would not. By mid afternoon, it began and, thank goodness, the tiny snow flakes did not build up to any depth. What was most pleasing was the arrival of Yuri, the pest control man who quickly made the necessary searches and found the trapped mouse under the washstand in the bathroom. He showed it to me and explained that it was, no doubt like all the others, a deer mouse, native to this area, and not to be confused with a field mouse, having a silvery tummy, a slightly larger head than others, along with a touch of brown in the grey fur. [I apologize if you are uncomfortable reading this detailed description, but something in me made me do it]. After he checked the cottage and replenished the stations, as they are called, indoors and outside, he went across the yard to the main building to make his inspection there. I wished him Godspeed, as he and his wife are flying to Hong Kong this weekend for a much needed holiday.
TUESDAY, MARCH 5, 2019. Just as Vladika Lazar and I were about to set out for Abbotsford, a woman called to say that she was on her way to the monastery. I informed her that, unfortunately, we were ready to leave, but she wanted to come anyhow, which she did, bringing us an assortment of fruit, cheese and other nutritious things. Actually, Father Moses was available to meet her and show her the church. Meanwhile, we went on our planned way to purchase a number of items that are needed by old and handicapped people. Gone are the days when we could hurry and scurry, now we simply shuffle along, but thanks be unto God for at least that! The slight touch of a cold that I had since the weekend is disappearing, while Vladika Lazar has not been well in this period, afflicted possibly by some virus. Father Moses spent considerable time in gathering all the material necessary for the first week of Great Lent, such as copies of the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, material for the Presanctified Liturgy and also for the Liturgy of Saint Basil. While he was doing that, he came across a book stand that we have been searching for over a year. It turned out to be a search and rescue operation.
MONDAY, MARCH 4, 2019. Our friend Yuri had planned to visit us this morning to check all the rodent stations, as they are called, but he was unable to come because of an injury, so he plans to be here the day after tomorrow. Without his help, I do not know what we would have done, as he was able to control the rodents for entire months at a time. As I mentioned before, we live with a forest behind us full of rodents and others creatures, from mice to bears, and we must always be cautious. We took a look at the roadway where the trees were cut down the other day. There is long stretch near the stream that is low and usually damp or wet, so we thought of planting willow trees on either side of the road, as they thrive in such conditions. Many people suggested yesterday that we plant sour cherries, so I began searching on the internet for places where they can be found. Natalia informed me of the various flowers she has growing in a sheltered area and assures us that plenty of gorgeous flowers will be found here all over the monastery grounds this year. I must remember to prune the hydrangea bushes before it is too late and also the Magellan fuchsia. If they are pruned in autumn, they will not have flowers the following year.
SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 2019. After this morning’s Matins and Liturgy, we had the usual abbreviated healing service, as we on the first Sunday of each month, followed by a memorial service for Michael Apostolidis who died last year. His widow Glyko wanted everything to be perfect and it was. As for her koliva, I have never seen it looking so exquisite and tasty. Whenever we have a memorial service, others ask to have their loved ones commemorated as well which draws everyone that much closer to each other. Father Shio served together with us which meant that the Georgian congregation was also present. A family from Turkey dropped in later in the afternoon to light some candles in memory of the woman’s father who had died some time ago. You can imagine how pleased Evgeny, the Turk who was baptized here at the monastery, was to be able to speak to these visitors in Turkish. Our dear Vera from Washington was with us today and, as could be expected, she brought a few dozen cups of an elegant dessert. She does this every time she crosses the border and our Canadian customs officials do not bother her. If anything, they probably would like to taste her desserts.
SATURDAY, MARCH 2, 2019. This is a continuation of the mouse episode. Kirill kindly filled in the hole through which the mice were entering the bathroom and I hope that it will be the end of this unpleasant adventure. Today is Ancestral Saturday so we served a memorial before Vespers, attended by quite a few people. Unfortunately, my throat was raspy so my involvement in the singing was nominal. One of the visitors today told me that he thought that he had entered the wrong driveway, since the trees and shrubs alongside the road were gone. I reassured him that the road would be improved and new trees will be planted. He thought that it looked like a short Wall of China, a good, if inaccurate, description.
FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2019. This is the first day of March, but has spring really arrived? I used to enjoy describing the various flowers that were still in bloom until the cold spell came upon us. Now, all of us keep hoping that spring will soon arrive, because it is the most beautiful of all seasons here in this part of British Columbia. We have been bothered lately by an invasion of mice. This morning there was one caught in the mousetrap and another one in the evening. In fact, I have not yet dealt with it but I must soon, for it is not at all pleasing to walk into the bathroom and to see the creature lying lifeless on the floor. In fact, I just went into the bathroom to check and both the mouse and trap are not to be seen. It must have crawled under the hot water tank, pulling the trap along with itself. A problem—who will volunteer to rid us of this creature? Kirill arrived not long ago, so we perhaps can ask him to do it in the morning, and hope that no others enter the building at night. Today’s diary entry was to have been quite different, but it was hijacked by the little furry creatures, so I hope that you readers were not turned off by its content.