written by Father Moses
20 APRIL, 2021 This day has proved to be another quiet day with a lot of heat and sunshine. As is usual, I didn’t go out until the evening so spent most of the day inside. Once again this provided time to do indoor tasks, such as continuing with the sorting and collecting of papers, as well as working on the updating of the Icon Corner Colouring Book. When checking my emails, it was pleasing to see that a note had come from Slovakia where one of my friends is now living with his wife. He passes along news of what is happening in his part of the world, which right now is pretty much what is happening in our part of the world. They also are presently not allowed to attend church services and so he and his wife pray at home in their icon corner, awaiting better days when the churches are once again open to everyone.
19 APRIL, 2021 Today is another hot and sunny day at the monastery. After the usual routine, I read the 40 days prayers and then began planning what to eat. Strangely enough, planning what to prepare for eating has become a regular part of my daily activity. When Vladyka Varlaam was living, food was something I thought very little about. As long as I had peanut butter and bread, food was not something that concerned me. Now things are different since often I have to prepare things for myself, though I have to confess that it is becoming interesting as I learn more about food, such as how to prepare complimentary items, how to prevent them from spoiling before being eaten, and now trying to control how much is eaten during the lenten period. The web has been helpful, also talking to people about cooking has also helped. Don’t misunderstand, I am not a great cook or even an “average” cook, but am learning and hoping to improve with practice. While walking in the later evening, I was struck by a beautiful and large plant called a “Mahonia”, though it isn’t sure that the spelling is correct. Any way, the plant is the size of a small tree and loaded with beautiful and bright yellow flowers, almost as if it is bursting into flames. Further along the path, there were many beautiful rock formations which also entered my collection of photos.
18 APRIL, 2021 Today was the commemoration of Saint Mary of Egypt. She has proved to be an inspiration to so many people, myself included. We had the Matin and Vesper service during which she was commemorated on this warm and sunny Sunday. Archbishop Lazar and Father Markel served and were assisted by Igor and Vanya. Our little group of singers/chanters was composed of both Sorin and Georgeta as well as by Natasha and Dmitri Arykov. The service went well, though I found the heat in the church to be close to unbearable. In the later evening, I took another stroll around the monastery property and got some excellent photographs. I noticed a large wooden cross sitting high upon a rock ledge and also that there was a kind of stairway made of large chunks of broken rock, leading up to the area. It was possible to get several clear shots of the area, including a few interesting rock formations and beautiful wild flowers.
16 APRIL, 2021 As I look out my window, I see a good number of wasps going about their business. On close inspection (though with a wall of glass between us) I see that they are taking tiny bites of wood so now the mystery of how they create their paper hives has been solved. I am not sure of what part they play in the order of nature but do know that they can be a nuisance as well as even dangerous for those who have an allergy to their venom. The memory of being stung last year still remains in my mind and how swollen my hand became as a result of it. Fortunately I seem not to be allergic to them because my hand hurt only for a couple days and the swelling only for a few days as well. Even so, the experience was unpleasant enough that I don’t wish to repeat it. In the area of food preparation, today I made a delicious salad with the remainder of the shredded cabbage and shredded carrots. To this I added a handful of Spanish peanuts, one avocado sliced into little cubes, and finely chopped raw onions. As a dressing, I blended balsamic vinegar, virgin olive oil and the remainder of my garlic. It was not only delicious but pleasant during this hot weather when it is just too hot to cook. Dessert was a large apple and a glass of Inka. This evening, we again celebrated the Presanctified Liturgy with Archbishop Lazar and Father Markel serving and Sorin acting as their acolyte. At the chanting stand was Matushka Raissa and Georgeta, both of whom did a marvellous job of reading and chanting. Ovidiu and Naiana were here and brought a much appreciated packet to me which included fresh garlic as well as a new container of Inka. We had a chance for a chat following the Liturgy when everyone said their “hello” to everyone else before departing for their homes. A great evening and way to end the day.
15 APRIL, 2021 Although today was a slow day, a good deal has been accomplished. With these last few days being sunny, it has been possible for Andy to finally get out into the field and do his doings. Then later in the afternoon, a large truck drove up into the monastery so I called Andy to let him know. It turns out that this was the delivery of what looked to me like several miles of baseboard for the hall and the kitchen. These were unloaded and carried into the hall where they would be safely protected from the unpredictable weather. Later in the afternoon, nearing evening, Kirill arrived on his way from South Burnaby. We had tea and a bit of conversation before he went next door to assist Archbishop Lazar with the moving of various objects in the altar. While they were doing that, I got my trusty little camera out and took several interesting photos, one of which was a view of the window in the altar which has a cross resting against the glass. The contrast of the wooden cross and the orange light coming through the window, was irresistable. Then I began writing the diary entry for today, wanting to post it before it became too late in the evening.
14 APRIL, 2021 The early mornings at the monastery are always cool but as soon as the sun comes up from behind the mountains, things warm up unbelievably fast. This is also clear when viewing the varieties of “wildlife” that is rapidly appearing here. For instance, today there were many wasps buzzing around the balcony and several kinds of birds playing in the trees and bushes just outside my window. The wasps are quickly building their paper nest and the ones that use mud are creating a little adobe habitat for their kind. So far, there are still no herons to be seen. Strangely, there are also no frogs as far as I can tell, for example no night croaking. The water level of both streams is dropping and the first one is especially low with most of the bottom now exposed and drying in the hot sun. This evening, we again celebrated the Presanctified Liturgy which went very well. As always, Sorin and Georgeta had carefully planned the readings for the evening so that the stress of doing so was not something I had to deal with. I was at first a bit shocked to see that they use their tablet on which they connect to a site that publishes the daily readings and other information from the Typicon. What can I say, “welcome Father Moses, to the 21st century”.
13 APRIL, 2021 Today was a relaxing and rewarding day both here at the monastery and also on the little trip I took today. The day began with the usual little prayers and then Andy came to collect me for a trip to Langley. It was warm, sunny but there was a nice breeze which kept the heat at bay. The trip to Langley was interesting from the perspective of viewing changes in the landscape and in the town itself. We used to travel every Sunday morning, very early, in order to celebrate the Liturgy at the former Saint Nicholas Parish in Langley. The trip was beautiful with so many rolling hills and a variety of shades of green so it was always interesting, never boring. Any way, it was lovely to view the landscape and note how little it has changed since the days of St Nicholas, though the parish of St Nicholas no longer exists. We also travelled to Clearbrook and visited several businesses that sold things such as gravel, large plastic tubing, rocks. Not only did I receive a treat in this little adventure, but 9 & 5 also were taken to the pet store where Andy bought for them a huge bag of food which they were obviously excited to be getting and immediately recognized when he brought it out and placed it in the back of the van. Following the visit to the pet store, we then visited Tim Horton where we each got a large coffee before returning to the monastery. Oh yes, on the way, I got several beautiful and clear shots of Mount Baker, presently covered in snow and almost glowing in the bright sunshine.
12 APRIL, 2021 At this time, we are having warm, sunny and breezy weather. Mondays are always a sort of recovery day because Sundays seem to require a lot of energy and these days I don’t have as much energy as I used to. I wanted to let everyone know that there is an excellent website for lenten cooking which is called “Monastyrskaya Kukhnya”. It is unfortunate that it is only in Russian because they have some supper ideas for lenten food, as well as cooking for non-lenten periods. Some of my ideas come from this site and others come from my own imagination though my cooking has only just begun to venture out of the “canned foods” category. There are also on the web some helpful cooking sites in both English and French so do look them up. Today I am frying cabbage and mushrooms and instead of adding sour cream to the finished product, I am going to add a thick coconut milk mixture. While frying the cabbage, I also added Spanish peanuts and crumpled seaweed so it should turn out nicely.
10 APRIL, 2021 A busy day was had by all. Father Markel and Matushka Raissa were here all day, cleaning, cleaning and cleaning. In the afternoon, Kirill came with Mimi and he went over to help Father and Matushka with the cleaning. I stayed with Mimi who slept at my feet while I was on the computer. Later in the evening, we had Vespers at 6 rather than the usual 5 and it also went smoothely with Sasha serving in the altar to assist Father Markel, and Matushka and myself doing the chanting. Today was a “memorial Saturday” so it was perfect for Kirill to be here and making a request for a Pannikhida for the father of his good friend. The father is named Alexa so, anyone reading this diary, please remember Alexa when you pray for the reposed. I should mention that today is sunny and was quite warm which has led to the snow on the mountain facing the monastery, being nearly gone. Yesterday the top of the mountain was covered with a lot of snow and today, the green is showing through a very thin layer of snow. To be honest, I don’t think that we have any weather patterns unless you consider chaos to be a pattern ! As I write this diary entry, Father Markel and Kirill are moving furniture in the big hall. I would like to help them but my arthritis is so bad today that simply walking is quite a chore. Earlier today, I did a bit of “cooking” if you could call it that. I mixed humous and avocado into a gluey mess which was then spread onto toasted multi-grain toast. Added to this was a thin layer of spicy tomatoe and vegetable sauce. It was ugly to look at but quite tasty and nutritious.
9 APRIL, 2021 It is difficult to believe that once again the snow line on the surrounding mountains, is dropping. This morning I looked at the mountain which faces the monastery and was surprised that it was snowing. I received today a long e-note from a good friend who now lives in New Mexico. As some of you know, I lived in New Mexico for 2 years when a school boy and loved it very much. With my friend living there, I now have a chance to catch up on how it has changed, what kind of people are there, are there any Orthodox churches, is Spanish still widely spoken there, and other questions. I was also thinking of calling Gerry to have a short talk but couldn’t decide if it was a good idea or not. As many of you know, his health has been a bit fragile during this passed year and I didn’t want to cause any problems by yacking about pointless matters. It turns out that the problem was solved because he called me and we had a really nice chat. Please do remember him in your prayers because he is going to have serious eye surgery soon. The evening dawned quietly with the celebration of the Presanctified Liturgy. As always, it was exhibited by way of Youtube and Facebook (I’m not sure about Zoom), and went smoothely. The chanting went exceptionally well with Matushka Raissa, Sorin, Georgeta and myself. As well, the books of those in the altar and those at the chanting stand, are in harmony which also makes for a much smoother and beautiful service.
8 APRIL, 2021 Today is proving to be dark and rather cool. I walked out onto the balcony to look at the fields and mountains all around and was more than a little surprised to see that there is new snow and that the snow line has dropped. The mountain directly across from the monastery has new snow and quite a bit of it. In fact, it is so much cooler that I am going to make a fire in my little wood burning stove and try our the new teapot that Kirill gave me on Saturday. After heating the stove, I’ll sit the teapot, filled with water, on the top of the stove and wait for it to simmer, then make a tall glass of steaming hot Inka. Oh yes, before I forget, I found the jute binding twine which someone had left a long time ago and which I soaked in vinegar and wanted to use as wicking for my little lampada. Any way, last night I put in the jute wicking, lit the wick and it has been burning now for 18 hours without any trimming, just needing to have a bit of oil added to the lampada. There are several kinds of wicking that are good: pure cotton, jute, hemp fibre. They all need to be soaked in vinegar, then dried and cut into sections before using. One more hint, if you use cotton, make sure that it is not mixed with any artificial fibre because then it will readily form carbon and choke oxygen from the flame and won’t burn very long. Also, even though it is not traditional to use, the best oil for the icon lamps is canola oil which burns well and doesn’t smoke much.
7 APRIL, 2021 Today has been a big day with the celebration of the feast day of the Annunciation. We did have the morning Liturgy which began with the Hours and then the festive Liturgy. Father Markel and Archbishop Lazar were in the altar, with Sorin serving as the acolyte for the Liturgy. Matushka Raissa and I were the readers and chanters for both the Hours and the Liturgy. After everyone left, Sorin stayed and worked on the lighting and a few other projects, having to do with the kitchen. All the fluorescent tube lighting has been removed from the site of the kitchen, which makes the whole area so much better. One thing that helps is that all the new lights are LED so that they take much less power, which should help to lower our B.C. Hydro bills. Any way, Andy and Sorin worked together until late in the evening because when the fluorescent tube lights were removed, there were ugly holes in the ceiling which had to be removed. It was both interesting and fun to watch as they nailed wood into the ceiling from above, in the attic. Then some kind of plaster mixture was smeared over the holes, smoothed with trowels and made nearly invisible. It was quite impressive to watch, especially since there were so many of these ceiling gaps needing to be removed.
6 APRIL, 2021 Once again, it is a warm and sunny day, even verging on being hot. Today I spent a good deal of time sorting clothes to be washed and other, such as socks, to be given to the Value Village. It seems that I have tonnes of socks but cannot wear most of them because they cut off my circulation, hence I mostly wear diabetic socks or loose socks of all kinds. In the afternoon, it was time for a break and this meant going to the church for the Vesper service for the feast of the Annunciation. After refreshing the flowers around the icon, then the Vesper service was read and the church prepared for the Liturgy tomorrow
5 APRIL, 2021 Another warm and sunny day at the monastery. Once again it was possible to walk about and get some nice photos of a few interesting plants. There are a number of mushrooms growing and some of them look super delicious. Since I am not, however, an expert in mushrooms, I could only look and appreciate their physical beauty, rather than their taste. There are also many flowering bushes and trees which beg for attention as well. Some of these are barely in bloom and others are quite strikingly in full bloom. There are so many other beautiful views to look forward to in this emerging Spring.
4 APRIL, 2021 Today was a busy day with the day beginning with the Matin service, followed by the Liturgy which honoured the veneration of the Cross. As we always do, we broadcast by way of both Facebook and Youtube. Everything went well. Following the service, everyone said their farewells to one another and then went their way. In the afternoon, I took a short rest and then got up in order to do a bit of cooking. Since I had been given a bag of shredded cabbage, it was possible to make a salad (I love salads) and try out my recipe for (Italian dressing). After putting the shredded cabbage into the large bowl, then I was able to add some chopped mushrooms, garlic, finely chopped green beans and then the dressing. I made the dressing by blending olive oil, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, raw onions and capers in a bottle and letting it sit for several days. The various flavours blend nicely with the olive oil and make a delicious, healthy and lenten dressing
3 APRIL, 2021 Today went well. Mainly it was quiet, with a good deal of rain. While sitting at my little table and having a bowl of oatmeal, I saw a dark figure on the side of the mountain. I can’t be sure that it was a bear but this does seem like a good time for them to be emerging from their caves and making their first public appearance of the year. Since today was a “Memorial Saturday”, I did read the Pannikhida after having eaten my oatmeal. As well, I did prepare my wood burning stove for lighting after the reading of Vespers. With all of this accomplished, I rewarded myself with a big and hot glass of Inka to end the day.
2 APRIL, 2021 This day at the monastery is overcast and a bit on the cold side. This provides more time to stay inside and do some indoor work, such as continuing with sorting papers, looking up recipes on the web, catching up on necessary enotes and getting ready for the evening Presanctified Liturgy. Lately, there have been a lot of phone calls, some asking for information about visiting the church (which we are keeping locked once again, due to theft), and others seeking information about where to purchase Orthodox books or icons or both. One interesting call came from Texas. The person wanted information on where she might attend an Orthodox Church and since I was on the computer, I asked her to hold for just a second while I looked up the information. She wanted a Russian church but one that used English and was on the Julian Calendar. After giving her the information, but before hanging up, I asked her if she realized that she was talking to someone in British Columbia, which she did not. Imagine, calling from Texas to Canada in order to get information about your local churches. The evening Presanctified Liturgy went fairly smoothely and was an excellent end to the day.
1 APRIL, 2021 Today was an overcast and cool but not cold day at the monastery. This worked out well because it made it possible to begin the day with a trip into town. Andy collected me and then he, 9 & 5 and myself, went into Mission. While there, I returned a book I had just completed, on the subject of Byzantine architecture. Then we went to Fresh Co for some groceries, stopped by the drive through window at Burger King to get their delicious coffee, and then home to the monastery. Later in the afternoon, it did get cold enough to make a fire in my little wood burning stove. At the same time, I managed to use my favourite cooking utensil for making chili. How did I do this? Well, once the fire in the stove had burned down and there were a lot of coals, I placed the pot of cold chili onto the top of the wood burning stove and in only about 20 minutes, the chili was steaming and ready to eat. Following this, I read a Moleben for those who had made a request that their names be read. After the prayers, I awarded myself with a hot glass of Inka and a mint/gingerbread cookie.
31 MARCH, 2021 Today at the monastery was quite sunny and warm, definitely not a “winter day”. With it being so warm and sunny, it was surprising to look out the window and see that the field is still quite flooded. It will take a few days for the soggy soil to dry out enough to work with it. Much of today I was on the phone. One of the most interesting calls was from a little girl who called and began the conversation by first of all asking if this was the Orthodox monastery. Once she received the reply that it was, she said, “I am a child and am calling for my grandmother who doesn’t speak English.” To be honest, I was impressed by her poise and confident phone conversation. We served the Presanctified Liturgy this evening and all went well. My voice was a bit weak so thankfully we had both Matushka Raissa and Georgeta to help with the chanting.
30 MARCH, 2021 Today was another mixed day when speaking of the weather. Part of the day was sunny and a bit warm but the majority of the day was overcast and what many people would consider to be cool or even a bit on the cold side; for me, the weather was perfect. Today there were a lot of ducks out on the water so maybe this year we will be seeing many more birds of all kinds. Still no bears and so far, I have not heard any frogs. Vladika Lazar told me that he saw 2 herons on the creek at the south side of the monastery, when he took his walk up to the main road. I did see a coyote in the field. It went from the field to the road that leads up to the barn. Surprisingly, it continued up the road but was not bothered by 9 or 5. Since my arthritis is quite painful today, I didn’t walk any further than the gatehouse but hope that tomorrow is better.
29 MARCH, 2021 This day at the monastery has been sunny and warm. I heard the sounds of sawing and so looked out the window to see Andy with the chainsaw, cutting small trees along the slopes as well as larger trees which had limbs that were too close to electric wires. As is usual for him, 9 and 5 were close at hand to keep an eye on things. I looked to see if the herons have yet returned (they have not) or any new monastery residents, such as the black bears (also haven’t seen them). Back in the kitchen, I made soup to which I added finely chopped broccoli and buckwheat kasha as well as mushrooms and finely chopped garlic. In addition, I got out the trusty toaster and inserted slices of multigrain bread which was then smeared with (what else) peanut butter and peach jam. Also predictable was the beverage of choice, a large glass of Inka. If my taste seems to be a bit odd, it is nothing compared with Vladika Lazar’s garlic and cabbage omelettes, which he is very fond of when it is not Lent. He also loves to stirfry a mixture of cabbage, onions and Kasha. So I think my diet is more ordinary.
28 MARCH, 2021 Today was the beginning of the third week of Great Lent and it began with the morning services of Matins and then the Liturgy of St Basil the Great. As I had mentioned in previous diary entries, we have once again started to celebrate the Slavonic Liturgy on the last Sunday of the month, so today the Liturgy was in Slavonic. As always, we broadcast the service on both Youtube and Facebook in order to fill the gap which has been created by recent events. Also, today following the Liturgy, we had a complete Pannikhida. Even though it is not traditional to serve Pannikhida on Sunday (because Sunday is the day of the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ), it was decided to serve for those who were unable to attend the Pannikhida which was to be served on Saturday, which was a “soul Saturday” on the Orthodox Church Calendar. A number of people came today just to light candles and say a prayer and then left the church, while a small group of people stayed for the Pannikhida and a brief chat with their friends before everyone departed for their homes.
27 MARCH, 2021 Saturday at the monastery is usually rather quiet and today was no exception. After the usual prayers in the morning, I then read the Pannikhida and the lists of names that people have left for commemoration. Following this, I had a snack and then spoke on the phone to a Russian lady whose mother just died today in Moscow. Due to the rules imposed by the Covid people, the family is unable to visit Moscow for the funeral so that she wanted to know what could be done. I told her about the 40 days memorial prayers which she was pleased to know that we serve. As well, she asked that her mother’s name be listed in the Pomianik which also I told her we could do. In the late afternoon, it was time for the evening Vesper service which was served in the big church and also televised on both Youtube and Facebook. As is usual, the service went smoothely except for the fact that the chanter (that’s me) mistakenly chanted the wrong tone at one part of the service but then corrected himself for the remainder. All in all, it was a quiet and peaceful service and an excellent way to end the day.
26 MARCH, 2021 Today was a full day at the monastery with the usual daily chores as well as the added joy of seeing the workers who are busy preparing the future kitchen to be used. Then in the evening, we had the lenten Presanctified Liturgy which went quite well. Following the Presanctified Liturgy, we then served a full Pannikhida which went fairly well, though there was a little bit of confusion during one section of the service but which was overcome and the service completed. Some of the ladies who came for the service, brought large amounts of food which they left for the monastery. After receiving a blessing, they left as did everyone else.
25 MARCH, 2021 Today at the monastery has been partly sunny and partly cloudy with a bit of rain. Even so, the day is definitely warmer and very springlike in feeling. While taking a walk around the monastery grounds, I could see that a number of bushy plants and small trees had the beginnings of leaves and some with blossoms peaking out as well. The ground is still fairly saturated from the rain so it was necessary to walk carefully in order to avoid both puddles of water and areas of mud. I see Vladika Lazar taking his usual long walk – about a quarter of a kilometre by the time he is finished – using his four-wheel walker that some of the Serbs bought for him. Serbs are stubborn. When the home care nurse gave him a list of ways to make life easier he said he did not want life to be easier, he wanted to bring himself up to the ability to cope with it the way it is. Considering that he had 4 strokes and a major cancer surgery, he seems to be doing a pretty good job of it. I also wanted to mention that Sorin has been slowly and carefully replacing the lighting in the big church. At the present time there are big, industrial fluorescent tubes in place and these he is replacing with LED, circular lighting which has a clean, white light that is softer and much easier on the eyes.
24 MARCH, 2021 Today was dark and cloudy and we had a good amount of rain. It was a good day to stay inside and do a bit of vacuuming and house cleaning. As well, this also provided time for continuing with the filing and sorting of papers. Then in the evening, we had the Presanctified Liturgy with the usual presentation on both Youtube and Facebook. Today we didn’t have tea and as soon as the service was ended, everyone left for their homes.
23 MARCH, 2021 This day has proved to be another cloudy and cooler day. Even so, it seems that there are signs of Spring which are slowly popping up. For example, I took a little walk around the monastery grounds and found some new flowers which are already in bloom, as well as some which are just in the beginning stages. It is reassuring to know that Spring is still a possibility. Although it is becoming warmer, it is still a bit chilly at night. At this time, I have a little fire in my wood burning stove and am going to cook a pot of vegetarian chili once the fire has created enough coals to cook. As well, today seems like an excellent day for a nice and hot glass of green tea to balance the taste of the chili.
22 MARCH, 2021 Today has been rather interesting from the perspective of our unusual weather. For some time it seemed as if Spring had arrived, full force. Then this morning I looked out the window to find that the sky was shrouded with dark and steely clouds and rain was falling on the monastery. At the same time, the mountain facing the monastery was being capped with new snow and the surrounding mountains were also being sprinkled with a thick layer of white. This led me to make a new hot soup. This time, the soup was based on yellow lentils. To these, I added cooked spinach, finely chopped onions and a bit of spicy chili sauce and salt. It turned out very well and was delicious. To accompany the soup, I made toast from a loaf of home made bread onto which was spread garlic flavoured hummus and all washed down with a large glass of Inka.
21 MARCH, 2021 This Sunday was the rainy celebration of the “Sunday of Orthodoxy”. This year there was no procession due to a variety of circumstances, including the fact that it was raining. As always, we had the Matin service beforehand with the special prayers that are reserved for the Sunday of Orthodoxy celebration. Since we now have the complete Menaya in English, as well as the complete Lenten Triodion, it was possible to read the complete Matin service as well as the additional prayers for the Liturgy. Following the Liturgy, a number of Russian and Ukrainian ladies began cleaning the hall and related areas (I apologize to the ladies that I don’t know how to spell their names properly). As well, the cabinet maker and his wife were here and, it was interesting that the wife of the cabinet maker had a present for me; a new face mask which is actually washable. She said that she thought of me as soon as she saw it so wanted to pass it along to me on Sunday. Kirill stopped by on his way home and we had tea and a brief chat before he left.
19 MARCH, 2021 This morning, Andy and I went into town so that I might pick up a few thing from the grocer that I have run out of. I always enjoy going to the grocery store and seeing all the interesting and new products, especially in the food category. The big news was that today we celebrated the second Presanctified Liturgy of the Great Lenten period. It went really well and was broadcast over both Youtube and Facebook. While Archbishop Lazar and Father Markel were in the altar, Sorin, Goergeta and myself, were at the chanter stand, doing what we do best.
18 MARCH, 2021 This has been a bit of an unusual day. Most of this day has been dark and a bit cold and now it is raining quite hard. Sorin has been here, working on the computer and transmission of the Youtube and Facebook programs. Today we had the reading of the Canon of St Andrew of Crete which went well. We began, as is usual, with the reading of Compline, then switched to the Canon and when the Canon was completed, we switched back to the reading of the remainder of the Compline service. Sorin and Georgeta have been a great help because it is actually hard for me to read due to the still present occasional breathing difficulties. We met Andy in the hall because he was walking Archbishop Lazar back to his little house. While talking to Andy, Kirill showed up. He had been planning to come for the reading of the Canon but was involved in the purchase of parts for his Volvo and so was delayed and only was there for the “amen”. Any way, following this, Kirill and I had tea and a bit of a chat but he was under the weather today and not able to chat too much.
17 MARCH, 2021 Today was another quiet day at the monastery. The weather began with lots of sun and a bit of a breeze but the breeze died down and the remainder of the day was quite comfortable. I did notice that besides the many ducks, there are now other types of birds on the monastery grounds, which is good to see. As well, other animals are coming out and have been seen: rabbits, raccoons, squirrels but still no bears. Toward the evening, the service of the Presanctified Liturgy was celebrated and was transmitted by way of both Facebook and Youtube. Even though this was the first Presanctified Liturgy of the lenten season, it went smoothely, without any breaks or mishaps. It will be interesting to see how the second Presanctified Liturgy goes on Friday.
16 MARCH, 2021 This day proved to be another sunny and Spring like day. When I got up, the sun was beginning to shine and there were many, many ducks on the water in front of my balcony. This time, I was about to count 15 of one kind of duck with beautiful blue-green neck and 6 of another kind of duck which had a white ring around the neck as well as a light brown ring and wings. All the ducks were busy swimming and diving for something in the water. So far, I haven’t heard any frogs and the herons are not yet visible so Spring has not completely arrived. Sorin was here today working on the kitchen as well as some kind of electronics having to do with the video cameras. In the evening, Archbishop Lazar served Compline and the Canon of St Andrew with Sorin and myself serving as chanters. The service went smoothly and was on view for people who might have been interested in following along.
15 MARCH, 2021 This being the first day of the Great Lenten period, we served the first section of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete. The service began with the reading of Compline, into which the Canon was inserted at mid point. Archbishop Lazar was the server and I was the chanter. Both of us were a bit tired but still the service went well and served as the end of this first day of the fast.
13 MARCH, 2021 We had a busy Saturday here at the monastery. As is usual for Saturdays, the day began with the reading of the Pannikhida and the lists of names, followed by morning prayers. Then I gave myself a treat by taking a bit of time to do some reading, including the life of one of my favourite saints, Saint Juliana Lazarevskaya. This was followed by several articles on the subject of “fracking” which I am trying to learn more about since my nephew lives in an area where serious fracking has begun in order to get at a huge deposit of natural gas. After the reading, then I made a snack and went back to work, sorting and filing papers. Later, there was a bit of time to work on an icon and by the time the icon was drying, I received a call from Father Markel to let me know that Vespers was going to be served at 5. The service went well with both Father Markel and Archbishop Lazar in the altar. Georgeta and I did the chanting (Georgeta did a very good job and helped a lot). Following the service of Vespers, we then served a full Pannikhida, in English, and this also went very well with both Georgeta and Father Moses chanting. When all this was completed, we then had a memorial meal in the little hall which is next to the new kitchen. While we were eating, Igor came through because he was on his way to work on Archbishop Lazar’s computer but he had a cup bit to eat and was then on his way. At that time, everyone bade their farewells to their friends and to the glorious day.
12 MARCH, 2021 What a beautiful day this has turned out to be. The early morning began with a beautiful sunrise which is all the more dramatic as a result of the surrounding mountains still being covered with snow and looking a lot like photos of the Swis Alps. Then the sun slowly began to appear, first a small, shadowy orange ball that slowly rose higher and changed from red to orange then to yellow as it became more prominent, leaving behind the purple and blue curtain of clouds that began the day. After admiring and photographing this, it was time to pray, then to get to work on a few projects. First it was necessary to go next door to check on progress being made in the construction of the future kitchen. There were a few minor changes which were photographed before then going to the church to check on the lampada, clean the wick and relight it. Also, even though I don’t like olive oil. the lamp needed more oil so I broke down and filled the lamp with olive oil, before relighting it. Then I came back and tried my hand at cooking. This day it was making a cream of broccoli soup. In case anyone is interested, it was delicious. Accompanying the soup was a marmite sandwich which goes well with any green vegetable. I also found a packet of manilla folders which are now being used for the sorting of some of the papers which hopefully can be put into some kind of order and be made useful again.
11 MARCH, 2021 Another glorious sunny and warm day at the monastery. I went for another walk which was thoroughly enjoyable, then returned to do a bit of work. One thing I wanted to do was try to make a dish which my mother used to make. It is made of shredded potatoes, mixed with onions and fried into what look like little hamburgers, though made of potatoes. I got busy, shredding the potatoes, then finely chopping the onions and putting both into the electric frying pan, which was coated with sunflower oil. I didn’t wash the potatoes, figuring that the potato starch would hold everything together. I have to say that the end product was not at all like what I had at home, though I still enjoyed eating them and washing them down with a glass of Inka.
9 MARCH, 2021 This day was another fairly quiet day at the monastery but I did receive a couple of very strange phone calls. One of the oddest was from a woman who wanted to celebrate her birthday at the monastery, on Easter (yes, that is the word she used) which is April 4th, her birthday. I explained to her that the Orthodox celebration of Pascha was not until 2 May because we used the Old Julian Calendar rather than the civil calendar. She said that she is Orthodox. Then she explained that she was interested in using the old calendar and wanted to know if she would be able to have her birthday and stay at the monastery for a few days. Again, it was necessary to explain to her that we were not receiving visitors and that her question was a bit confusing. I did tell her that she could view our Sunday service on either Youtube or Facebook and that we also had a web site if she was interested in looking at it as well as finding links that might be helpful. This is just one example for the diary.
8 MARCH, 2021 Thankfully this is a quiet Monday with not too much going on today. I was working on some line drawings which I had done 30 years ago. These are printed on inexpensive newsprint so the paper is very old, yellowed and a bit brittle. Some of the lines of the drawings have disappeared so I am redrawing where needed. Today was “chili and chips” day which means that I made vegetarian chili and what the Americans used to call “french fries”. It is a great combination and the fries help to moderate the spiciness of the chili. The chili is in cans and already blended so that the spices cannot be changed. Chili has long been one of my favourite canned foods and I am so happy that it is available here in Canada, both in the vegetarian style and non-vegetarian style. Dessert will be a nice can of cranberry jelly.
6 MARCH, 2021 Saturday morning and it is sunny and quite warm with just a little breeze today. As is usual for Saturday, the day began with the reading of daily prayers, followed by the reading of the Pannikhida. In the area of food preparation, I tried making vegetarian chili (it was a success) and today added finely chopped onions (raw) and buckwheat kasha, which I had fried to a crispy texture before adding to the chili. Matushka Anna from Moose Jaw had sent an email of some music that I had requested, and I was able to open the printed text with notes but was unable to open the audio she had also sent. I then tried to forward it to another party but this also did not work but at least the printed version came through. Sorin is here today, again working on some of the electrical additions to the future kitchen. I went over to take photos and he patiently explained to me what he was doing and even paused in order to allow me to take photos of some of his interesting electrical supplies. One that captured my intererst is shaped like a writing pen and has a light on the end. This instrument is to let the holder know if there is electrical energy flowing through the wires or outlets on which he or she is working. If the light is red, that means power is flowing, if the light is green, that means it is safe to work with the wires or outlets. This is just so amazing and a wonderfully helpful tool. After visiting Sorin and taking many photos, I then went to the church to check things out. The lampada before the Joy of Canada icon was fine but the lamp at the Pannikhida table needed a new wick. I had made some new wicks with butcher’s twine which is pure cotton. It had been soaked in vinegar and dried so was ready for use. The first thing that needed to be done was to dip one end into hot wax, then let it harden after twisting it to form a point which would then be threaded through the wire on the wick float. This sounds easy but can be a bit tricky if the wicking it too thick or if the wax is not quite hardened. In this case I tried threading the wicking before it had hardened so had to try several times before the wicking passed through the wire loop. Now with the new wick installed, I could relax and finish the other chores that needed to be completed.
5 MARCH, 2021 A busy Friday. First of all, the day was warm, though a bit breezy, which makes for a most enjoyable walk. Some of the flowering plants are beginning to show catkins and buds so it won’t be long before we have some beautifully flowering plants on the monastery grounds. Also, saw one of the largest raccoons that I didn’t think could possibly exist but, there it was, walking along the rocky area, just behind the monastery and on the side of the mountain. Although winter has just passed, the raccoon didn’t look at all thin or hungry, which was something I didn’t expect to see. So far, I have not seen any bears or rabbits but have seen lots of ducks, some eagles and falcons and hawks. I am close to finishing the book on the subject of the Carpatho-Russian people and their adventure of living in North America, attempting to keep their religious life and culture alive; very informative book.
4 MARCH, 2021 This day there is a change in the weather. There is more wind and the temperature seems to be cooler. I did manage to get some excellent photographs of the sun just coming up early this morning as well as taking another walk, which is not only healthy but enjoyable. Even though I have now lived here for many years, I always enjoy walking around the property, looking at the many plants and sometimes animals, which make this property their home, along with we humans. Nothing has changed in the kitchen, so I did not take any photos of it today. I did, however, take a couple of photos of a very long train travelling on the tracks which are near to the monastery. No interesting food experiments today.
3 MARCH, 2021 Today at the monastery almost feels like Spring. There is a gentle breeze blowing, the sun is shining and it is still cool but warmer than it has been in the passed week. I was able to take a walk down to the front of the monastery property and also able to take more photos of the property, including more ducks. The water level on the first slough is extremely low and many areas that are normally under water, are presently “high and dry”. Also noticeable is the work Andy has been doing on filling in the large holes that have formed on the road. It can be quite jarring to enter the property and pass over an empty space in the road, but with these having been filled, that is no longer a problem.
1 MARCH, 2021 Another glorious day marks the beginning of March at the monastery. Following the reading of the prayers in the morning, it was time for Andy to collect me for the trip into town. We went to the printery to check on the printing of our art work but they were unable to do the job. The end result is that we are going to have to do a bit more investigating to find someone who is able to do it. At the same time, I had taken a copy of the pages which were missing from my Psalter and wanted to know if the printery people could print the pages; (1) on the same kind and colour of paper and (2) if they could print on both sides of the paper. I am happy to say that the answer was yes on both counts. As a result, now I have the complete text of the Psalter, in English. Following our visit to the printery, Andy dropped me off at the store where I bought some lenten foods to bring home. As well, we went to the disposal site where Andy took a truck load of refuse from all the building work that has been going on at the monastery. The drive to the disposal site was quite nice and I managed to take a number of photos, one being of an antique car which had been planted atop a concrete wall next to a gas station.
27 FEBRUARY, 2021 As usually happens, today began with the reading of a Pannikhida and the large list of names of people for whom prayers have been requested. Then the morning prayers and the start of the day. Father Markel and Sorin were here, working away on the future kitchen. At noon, Sorin called to ask if it would be possible to record “the Waters of Babylon” for him on his little phone. To be honest, I have never sung it, only read it, so I explained to him that I would need to practice it for a while before making a recording. He graciously gave to me a copy of the sheet music so it was possible to take it next door, sit down at the table, and try reading it and singing it. For some reason, I got the Alleluia quite well, maybe even perfectly, but I could not get the verses so told him that it would be necessary to practice a bit before recording the verses. Even as I write this diary, I still don’t have the verses properly so shall have to practice all week. In the late afternoon, at 17.00, we had the evening Vesper service which went well, though I seem to be losing my voice. A few people came for the service and then stayed for the Pannikhida we served for Elena Beznyak’s grandmother. This also went well, and was served in mostly Slavonic with a bit of English. Following the Pannikhida, we had a short visit and then all said their farewell’s and departed.
26 FEBRUARY, 2021 Today has proved to be rather quiet, which has allowed me to accomplish some of the tasks that often get interrupted by phone calls or the occasional visitor. Kyrill had given to me several large, plastic shelving units, each with 3 good size drawers, and with these I am now sorting and filing some of the art work and written works from years past, when we were printing a little magazine dedicated to the Orthodox Faith. Rather than throwing away these works, I have saved them, hoping that they would be of use at a later date or at least helpful as reference materials. In the past, I had no real place to store these many papers so they were simply stacked on the floor, which is not really a very efficient way of keeping track of things. As well, people had “given” to me various books or objects that they didn’t know what to do with so asked me to take them (I didn’t often know what to do with them either). Slowly now it has been possible to begin putting things in some kind of order. Thankfully there is also time for painting and working on art projects and today has been one of those days. In the area of cooking, today was tomatoe soup day. As I have often mentioned, I love soup and found a can of tomatoe soup which seemed to be ready for a bit of working with. I chopped some mushrooms and onions and added also black pepper and green tea so that the soup would be tasty as well as healthy. Added to this was a grilled cheese sandwich on multigrain bread, which first was spread with a thin layer of horseradish before the outside of the bread was coated with butter for grilling in my little electric skillet. Dessert today was actually a drink, the fruit drink made with gingerale, mango, kiwi, orange and mashed blueberries.
24 FEBRUARY, 2021 Another sunny day here at the monastery. It was nice, with no wind and no rain or snow. It was finally possible to catch up on emails so now that bit of worrying is gone. I am still working on gathering and putting into order, the articles which had been written many years ago when we still printed our little Orthodox magazine. One of my jobs was to write a little column for children, which was really more to help educate their parents and serve as a gentle form of education. All this material still exists in a variety of boxes and envelopes so is taking some time to gather and arrange so that it makes some kind of sense. In the area of food, today was “chili and chips” day. I love chili and home made chips, which go together quite well. These two are great with a tall and steaming glass of Inka and a juicy apple for dessert. Nice way to end the day.
23 FEBRUARY, 2021 This day was a bit busy with sending and answering emails. Also completed an important art project and spent a bit of time next door looking at the future kitchen, taking some photos and talking with Sorin and his brother, Adrian. Previously, I had seen both Sorin’s brothers but constantly get them mixed up because I think they look nearly like twins. The other brother, Doru, does happen to be taller but usually I don’t notice the difference. Any way, today Sorin and Adrian were measuring the cabinet spacing and preparing the area for the eventual moving of the appliances into their proper locations. I knew that they were busy because when I walked in to take a few photos, there were tools everywhere: on the table, on the floor, on the ladder and even on the new island in the middle of the future kitchen. Today I made a nice fruit drink by taking dried mango, slices of orange, grapefruit juice and a bit of lemon, and then adding my favourite, Ginger ale. It is delicious when it sits for a couple of days and all the flavours are absorbed into the Ginger ale. Again I had chili which is another of my favourite foods. This time I didn’t add anything to it, just heated it on the wood burning stove and then ate it while hot. With it I drank the fruit drink and for dessert had a couple of kiwi fruits which go well with so many things; in fact, I am going to slice up a couple and add them to my fruit drink.
22 FEBRUARY, 2021 I hadn’t noticed anyone today at the monastery so don’t plan to take any photos next door. I do need to go over to check the lampada at the “Joy of Canada” icon to do the usual cleaning of the carbon from the wick, add more oil and I am going to try to use the little vacuum on the solea carpet which appears to have crumbs scattered over it. I did notice that the oil for the lampada is nearing the stage of being gone, so anyone wishing to donate oil for the lampada is welcome to do so. Today I completed the designs that Andy had asked me to help him with and so now I can ask him to go into town where we will visit the man who does colour printing. While we are at the printery, I want to check on making some colour reproductions of a few things I have painted, because it always helps to keep a record of these kinds of things and then check on them occasionally, to get ideas for further improvement of new paintings. In many aspects of life, learning from mistakes is helpful and this is also true in painting.
21 FEBRUARY, 2021 This Sunday proved to be again, a quiet and peaceful day. We had Matins and the Liturgy on both Youtube and Facebook, for those who are unable to attend and who are interested in following the Sunday services at the monastery. Following the Liturgy, there was recited the Litany for the reposed, along with the chanting of “Memory Eternal”. In honour of the occasion, Vanya had done some baking of what I believe were brownies and what he called chocolate chip cookies but without the chocolate chips, if I understood him correctly. No matter what they were called, they were excellent so hopefully he will continue to practice baking and can only become better at it as time passes. Most people left but a few of us stayed in the little hall for a cup of tea and a quick chat before we left.
20 FEBRUARY, 2021 Saturdays at the monastery are usually a bit busy and today has proved to be no exception to that. First, the day began with the reading of the daily Moleben and names. Then, since it is Saturday, I also read the Pannikhida, which I read every Saturday, and again read the names from a stack of lists that people have left at the monastery. Since work began in the early morning, on the future kitchen, it was necessary to plan the proper time to go over for taking a few photos of the site and the latest changes. As well, I also wanted to check on the guest room and see how it is recovering from the collapse of the ceiling and massive water damage. First of all, the guest room is currently being dried with heat and fans but I could tell from the smell that it will be quite a while before this is accomplished. The kitchen, on the other hand, is coming along well and has so many new cabinets. As well, many of the new kitchen appliances have arrived and are presently in boxes, in the main hall. I did take a photo of these but with so many of them and so much “stuff” in the hall, it is impossible to actually tell what is an appliance and what is “stuff” that has been stored in the hall for the time being. I was informed by Sorin that Father Markel would be coming and that we were having Vespers at 17.00 in the evening. A number of people arrived for the service, which went well. Following the Vesper service, we then had a big Pannikhida for Ovidiu’s father. The service was mostly in Romanian so most of it I could not understand, though as a result of the use of Russian melodies, I at least knew where they were during various parts of the service, even if I couldn’t understand the words being used. Following the Pannikhida, there was a memorial meal in the small hall next to the guestroom. There was a lot of food and, one very nice thing, someone brought non-alcoholic gingerale, so that those of us who do not drink, could still toast the memory of those commemorated during the Pannikhida.
19 FEBRUARY, 2021 Another calm day has prevailed at the monastery with work continuing on the future kitchen and also repair and damage control work being done on the guestroom and basement where serious water damage happened. If a person enters the building, it will be immediately clear that there are heaters and fans blowing away the moisture, though this will take some time. I did venture up the stairs into the small church in order to put away some things and noticed that the carpet is quite dry but water stained. The kitchen area looks like it is ready to be painted and the door frames have been patched and are also ready for a fresh coat of paint.
18 FEBRUARY, 2021 Once again, it is snowing at the monastery. Thankfully there is not much wind so that it is not (or at least doesn’t seem to be) much colder. As I promised the diary, after trying the diet Coke as a cleaner, I tried regular Coke to compare the two and I have to say that the diet Coke was a more effective cleaner. Today I used the regular Coke on the same type of iron stains but in the bathroom sink this time. The Coke did lighten and remove a good deal of the stain but not nearly as well as it’s diet companion. After going to the big church to check the lampada, clean the wick and add more oil, I then went to the future kitchen to check the progress. What a wonderful job is being done. Today the doors were added to the cabinets by Igor and Father Markel. As well, frames were constructed around the new entrance door as well as the large door space between the kitchen and guest room. There is also going to be a door installed between the new kitchen and the large hall and it will be in the same style as the entrance door so shall make an attractive addition to the area. Today Igor brought his dog and for the first time, I had a chance to spend a little time with it. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the dog so shall just call him “he” for now. Any way, he was at the door of the new kitchen when I went down to take photographs, so startled me at first. In spite of the initial surprise, I spent some time with him and managed to get a good photo of him sitting beside Igor, as Igor was working on one of the cabinets. When I went into the large hall to look for paper napkins, he followed me and then followed me down the stairs and then back to the kitchen. He is a rather large dog but I wasn’t at all fearful of him and he seems to like me as well. What can I say; it’s always nice to make a new friend.
17 FEBRUARY, 2021 This day has proved to be both sunny and a bit warmer. All the snow at the monastery has melted away and a visitor would not be able to tell that we had any snow, that we had strong winds or that it was super cold here. It is interesting how the weather can change so dramatically in such a short period of time. Today I had vegetarian chili, to which I added a sauce made with garlic and onions, also added fried tomatoes. In order to wash this all down, I made a drink of ginger ale to which I added dried mango slices and orange juice and then let it sit for a day in order to soften the mango slices and absorb the various flavours. The whole drink had a nice mixed flavour of the orange and mango, along with the ginger flavour of the ale.
16 FEBRUARY, 2021 The main thing that I have to report to the diary to day is an interesting discovery which was made purely by accident. After having made dinner, which was of buckwheat kasha, blended with avocado and fried cherry tomatoes, I decided to clean the sink. My sink is a stainless steel, double sink. Because our water has a lot of iron, it rapidly turns anything connected to it, a kind yellowish brown. Add to this the fact that if there is water standing in the sink, it also creates a thin and slippery film which mixed with the iron deposits, is hard to clean. Someone gave to me a can of diet Coke and since I don’t drink diet drinks, I poured it into the sink. Much to my surprise, it began eating away at the iron and gunk in the sink sooooo, I poured the entire can in the sink and scrubbed away all the uncleanness. Now both sides of the sink are shining and look almost like new, which means that the diet Coke did an excellent job of cleaning, even better than the official cleaning stuff that is in bottles beneath the sink. I plan to use diet Coke to clean the bathroom as well. I haven’t tried regular Coke but shall try it and will report how much of a success it was, to the diary.
14 FEBRUARY, 2021 Today was another good Sunday which began with Matins and the Liturgy. Archbishop Lazar and Father Markel served and Reader Sorin and his wife, Georgeta, did the chanting. We had a plumber visit after the Liturgy and he, Fr Markel and Andy were looking at the plumbing in the basement, which had been flooded by the pipe which had burst in the little upstairs church. Since today was not only the day of the Martyr Trifon but also the eve of the feast of the “Meeting of the Lord in the Temple”, that means we also had the feastday service in the evening, which was served with the Litya and blessing of the loaves. This was televised (is that the proper word for it?) so could be viewed on Youtube as well as Facebook. During the Vesper service, it was snowing so I was a little bit worried that Father Markel might have trouble getting home.
13 FEBRUARY, 2021 Today we held the memorial Liturgy for Vladika Varlaam. The service went well, though due to circumstances, some of the men were unable to attend the service. Following the Liturgy, there was a Pannikhida for Vladika Varlaam and Father Markel also read the names of parishioners whom we have also been asked to remember. As a result of the uncertain weather, we were not able to go to Surrey as had been planned. Oh yes, the reason the men were unable to attend the service is that the ceiling on the new guest room collapsed and created quite a mess. It seems that the water line from the little church upstairs, had burst and flooded both the guest room and also the basement. I went to take a photo of the guest room when I heard what had happened but was asked not to do so since there was water and plaster on the floor and it was dangerous. Thankfully no one was in the room at the time of the collapse, but it is tragic that all the hard work to make a room that was both beautiful and a comfortable place for visitors to stay, has been pretty much destroyed. To counterbalance this tragic event, work on the future kitchen is moving along smoothely and the new cabinets are quite an addition to the room. I have never seen so much new wood in one place but with all the new cabinets, there is wood in the hall, as well as in the new kitchen. As I had said before, there will be an amazing amount of cabinet space and hopefully it won’t be abused by those who use it. After all this, Father Markel and I shall be serving Vespers after I finish this diary entry. This is the perfect way to make an end to a very busy day.
12 FEBRUARY, 2021 Today is still very cold at the monastery and the wind blowing continually. In spite of that fact, there was an amazing amount of work accomplished on our future kitchen, which I am proud to explain. A crew of a number of men arrived early and began work on the installation of the cabinetry for the future kitchen. It was possible to stay out of their way but still get some excellent photographs of the work that has been done. There shall be cabinets lining the walls and shall be not only on the floor but also attached to the upper walls, next to the ceiling. This means a good deal of storage space shall be available which will make for a much tidier kitchen and one that shall also be easier to keep in order and clean.The stonework was also completed and looks just as if it has always been the way it is, which is the sign of a true artist having done the work. Following the taking of the photographs, which was late at night, I then went into the church to prepare it for the requiem Liturgy which is to be held on Saturday. There are sections of the Liturgy that are a bit different, such as the reading of the prokeimenon and alleluia verses specifically for the reposed. As well there are Apostle and Gospel readings also dedicated to the services of the reposed so these had to be found as well. Since the water in the main building has been turned off, it was necessary to take the kettle outside to get water from the tap, which was a bit difficult with the wind and cold and it being dark outside. No matter, with the task accomplished, it was possible to return to my little space, have a hot cup of Inka to warm up, type the diary and then return to bed.
11 FEBRUARY, 2021 Well, today is another cold and Arctic day. The wind is howling outside my window. Early this morning we lost our electric power so I decided to stay in bed until it returned. While in bed, I thought that it would be a good time to do some reading, so got a couple of books and a large glass of hot and steaming Inka, and was set for a few hours. Finally the power came back so it was possible to get up and do a few jobs that were needing to be done. Later in the evening, Andy came by to check up on me because he had not seen me and had tried to call me but the phone was not working. The first thing he did (after checking to see that I was all right) was to check the phone and find out why it was not working. It seems that the phone turns itself off when any new app is added or various changes made; I didn’t realize this. Now the problem is how to know when any changes are made soooo, guess it will be necessary to just try checking it every day. To be honest, this phone has been nothing but trouble almost from the beginning and it doesn’t help that I am not the kind of person who relates well with all kinds of electronic toys. In the cooking department, I decided that with this being a cold, cold day, soup would be a wonderful antidote to the unfriendly weather. What I did was open a can of vegetable soup with egg noodles, added chunks of carrots as well as (one of my favourites) sliced bell peppers, both red and yellow. The combination is colourful, delicious and should chase away the cold, at least for a while.
10 FEBRUARY, 2021 This day at the monastery was more than a little cold. In the early morning there was a powdery snow and a strong Arctic wind, for a short period of time and then it stopped. The Arctic wind continued and has continued all day long. It is so cold and with the wind, the cold goes through your clothes all the way to your skin so it can be pretty uncomfortable. Even with our bad weather, work was done next door so I had to force myself to brave the wind and visit next door, both to check the lampada in the church, and to take a photo of the continuing stone work. It is going to be one more pleasant visual spot in the monastery, when the stone work is completed. A person would never guess that there had been the large and bulky fountain at the entrance because the new work is so much better and as I have said, is much more inviting. Going back and forth has also forced me to realize that I need my gloves for this weather. For so long I haven’t worn gloves but today, for the first time, my hands really felt the cold and even began to cramp. This made the creation of a fire in my little wood burning stove, all the more a necessity, as well as a pleasure.
9 FEBRUARY, 2021 I don’t know if it is just me but I thought that it was amazingly cold at the monastery today. In the morning when I looked out the window, all that could be seen was the water in our slough, frozen into one long sheet of ice. The wind was also blowing and this usually lowers the temperature. When I opened the door to go next door and check the lampada in the big church, I was hit in the face with a big and cold gust of wind. Immediately, my hands began to turn pink, then my face. The end result was that I hurried to the church to check the lampada, which did need more oil and carbon removed from the wick. With this done, it was time to go to the future kitchen and the hall to check on work progress. Once again I took a couple of photos of the stonework at the entrance door. More had been done, though now I can tell that it has to be done in sections, due to the weight of the granite stones and the need for each section of plaster to dry before the next section is added. It will be quite nice when it is finished and I am anxious to see the end results.
8 FEBRUARY, 2021 This day has proved to be a very cold day and feeling very much like Winter. I noticed that it was snowing this morning at around 8 but quickly changed to dry and with very high winds. I went out on the balcony to check and was shocked to feel how cold it was. At that time, the sun was shining so it looked like it would be comfortable outside; not so. With the weather being so unfriendly, I stayed indoors and worked on the designs for Andy and read a Moleben for Father Shio. There was a car parked so I knew that there was someone next door working on the entrance way. That meant that after they left, I would go over to look at the work and take a couple of photographs, which I did. After this, it was time to go into the church to check the lampada, add more oil and trim the carbon from the wick. Back in my little space, I decided to cook buckwheat kasha but this time I fried it until it was golden brown, then added antipasto, red peppers and cracked several eggs on top. This, washed down with a large glass of Inka, completed my meal.
7 FEBRUARY, 2021 What an interesting Sunday today has turned out to be. We had a chance to try out the new camera during the services and all went well. As I mentioned before, the new system is so much better because the electrical outlet for it is in the middle of the church floor. There are no more heavy cables for people to trip over or to dislocate from the wall so in every way, it is an improvement. The visuals are also quite good and I hear that the sound is exceptional. After the Liturgy, I went back to collect my sketch pad and met Father Shio, who was in the process of moving his luggage. We spoke in English for a while and he told me that he was going to be going to the U.S. for a period of time. It cannot be easy to go to such an unknown future so please remember him in your prayers. Following the end of the Liturgy and meeting Father Shio, I then went to the future kitchen to see if there were any changes. Today, there was Andrei and another man (sorry, again I don’t know his name), working on the stonework next to the new entrance door. They had taped the space between the door and the remaining granite wall and were mixing plaster, which wasn’t clear to me. Then Andrei began to lay a foundation of plaster into which he set a large and flat chunk of granite. Following this, he then added more plaster and set other granite stones so that he was slowly building a flat surface where there had been the jagged surface of the partially demolished stonework fountain and entry wall. Thankfully I had my little camera and so got several photos of Andrei and his friend at work. When this work is completed, it will be both pleasing to the eye and an inviting first view when entering the building. Several of us were in the library where Sorin had prepared a number of works with the coil binding machine. Last night he and I did a few calendars and today he and Matushka and I were looking at some service books that needed changing and binding. Sorin did the preparing and Matushka put everything together, an example of team work; I watched and provided the encouragement. While outside and having a discussion with Elena, Igor, David, Andy and Vanya, a man and woman came up the driveway. Andy kindly met them and escorted them around the monastery which finally led to their visiting the church where they said their own prayers and lit candles at the “Joy of Canada” and for the reposed.
4 FEBRUARY, 2021 Another calm and peaceful day at the monastery. In the evening I had a visitor who brought a set of headphones with padded ear pieces, so these are comfortable to use. The visit was very short since I am still trying to be careful about spending time with outsiders. After a cup of tea, he excused himself and was on his way.
3 FEBRUARY, 2021 Another day in the new month and it was quite enjoyable. First of all, today was sunny and warmer. Secondly, the computer was fixed and so today it was possible to catch up on emails and to send both the diary for yesterday and today. Andy and I went into town to accomplish some tasks and all went smoothly. I went next door to check the future kitchen, then to add oil to the lampada in the big church. Following this, I went into the hall in order to refill the oil bottle which is used for the lampada in the big church; this was the last of the oil, which should last a couple of weeks more. Also did a bit of looking around because it is obvious that a lot of the stuff that was in the hall, has been removed, and that includes things like the microwave, several blenders, dishes, even some food. This means that I took a few things from the hall before they disappear: a measuring cup, several cans of vegetables, a carton of instant oatmeal. After this, Andy came into the parking lot and collected me for the trip into town. We visited the hardware store, the place that has farm equipment and then stopped by the library in order to return some books that I had borrowed last week. As a special treat, we went to the Tim Horton near the Burger King, and got large coffees – delicious and a nice way to warm up since it was/is still a bit cold.
2 FEBRUARY, 2021 Not much really was happening today, other than the usual but I did try a bit more experimenting in cooking. Today I fried Buckwheat Kasha with bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. You might think that frying tomatoes is strange but fried tomatoes is a Southern American treat, though they are often green tomatoes. Any way, when you fry ripe tomatoes, they are quite sweet and tasty and add so much to the taste of the bell peppers and the kasha. Along with the kasha, I also had toasted bread smeared with the delicious cheese that Monica gave us, which is so much like cream cheese and makes a delightful spread on toast. On the second slice of toast, I blended the cheese with an avocado, again a delicious addition and one complimenting the other.
1 FEBRUARY, 2021 This afternoon I made instant oatmeal and made it a special treat by adding frozen blueberries, granola, and instead of using milk, I used the creamy white cheese that Monica had brought on Sunday. It is so smoothe and creamy that it almost has the texture of cream cheese. Any way, it went well with the oatmeal and certainly adds a lot of nutrition to the cereal. Today was a fairly quiet day with rain falling nearly all day long. The field at the front of the monastery is flooding so not a reliable place for driving any kind of vehicle. Once again I am trying to put a number of projects in order. One of these is the “icon corner colouring book” which had been started several years ago but not completed. All the illustrations have been finished but the text is still in need of both updating and a few corrections.
31 JANUARY, 2021 This day has proved to be gray, wet and the kind of day when one spends their time indoors. Since today is Sunday, we began with the reading of Matins, followed by the Liturgy. All went well and the chanting was just so – so. Following the Liturgy, we served a full Panikhida with Father Markel reading several lists of names. There was also a bottle of wine and pastries to bless at the end of the Panikhida. After the service, I went downstairs to look at the future kitchen in order to see what has been done that is new and to take photographs, if so. I couldn’t really tell if any new work had been done since Saturday. I realize that Sunday is not a work day but since I did see someone on Sunday morning, driving away with a truck load of rubbish from the work site, it was a guess that there might be some changes needing to be photographed. In the evening, I made a pan of instant mashed potatoes but instead of using butter as the instructions on the carton say, I used the home made white cheese that Monica had given me. This I blended into the potatoe mix while it was still hot. The cheese melted as if it were butter and added such a wonderful flavour to the potatoes. I then added a bit of garlic and some chopped chives as well as a touch of pepper. What a delightful treat to have along with a sandwich and glass of Inka.
30 JANUARY, 2021 This day at the monastery was quite interesting and fulfilling. The day began with the usual reading of the Moleben and then the Panikhida which I read every Saturday. This was followed by an experimental lunch which this day was made with buckwheat kasha. I soaked the kasha overnight and today experimented by mixing Ranch Dressing, two hard boiled eggs and a half jar of home canned vegetables. It was delicious and something that is worth making occasionally. To accompany it, I had a small platter with pickled red peppers and beets, orange slices for dessert and all washed down with a glass of Inka. Work on the future kitchen continued today and is looking more impressive all the time. Since my camera is now working again, it was possible to take photos of the sealant which has been used to make the new door air tight. Later in the evening, Father Markel served Vespers which went smoothly. The Vesper service was followed by a Panikhida which was served in mostly Slavonic and about a third in English. Kirill came for a visit and brought Mimi along. She is such a good dog and super quiet. For the Vesper service, Mimi was left in a warm spot in my little kellia, with a bowl of water and was just fine when we returned after the service; she was actually asleep on the little mattress.
29 JANUARY, 2021 This day has proved to be interesting as well as rather quiet. First of all, the day began with the reading of the little morning prayer and Moleben. This was followed by Andy collecting me for a trip into town, which I was very much looking forward to. As always, 9 & 5 were in the van and offering their greetings and had warmed the seat in which I was going to sit during the trip. We went to “Sue’s Copy Place” which has now moved to a new location, to pick up some material that Andy had copied for Archbishop Lazar. While there, I noticed that Sue now makes copies on canvas, does colour posters in multiple sizes and many other interesting things (no, I am not getting paid to mention her shop but feel that good work deserves mentioning). Following the visit to Sue, we then went to the public library where a book was waiting for me: “Travels in Siberia” by Ian Fraser. As well, there was a second book, simply titled “Sicily” which has also been a place of great interest for a considerable amount of time. Sicily has been a multi-cultural land for many centuries, having a number of languages (Arabic, Greek, Sicilian, French) and all of them eventually modifying the native Sicilian language. It very much makes me think of Canada with the many cultures and languages, such as here at the monastery where we have Georgian, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, English and others. This evening I went over to the future kitchen to take photographs and was so impressed by the progress being made, much of which I would not have been aware of if it had not been for Andy prompting me. The wall that had been removed has now been replaced by external stone work which is really beautifully done. As well, the former door has now been replaced by a larger door and the roofing area above this door has also been modified so that when a person enters, the room is open and friendly and considerably warmer than it had been with the old door which leaked heat out of the building. The work on this area has not yet been completed so I look forward with anticipation, to seeing how the finished area looks when completed.
28 JANUARY, 2021 A very interesting day today at the monastery. First of all, two large trucks came in the morning to work on the future kitchen. The main task they accomplished today was the grouting of the large tiles which had been installed to create the new flooring. Little spacers were placed between each tile and then the grout smeared on the spaces. Since the tile is a kind of light granite grey, the grouting is barely noticeable. I did go over to the church to trim the wicking of the lampada and add more oil before visiting the future kitchen. In the kitchen, I did try photographing the new grouting but it is not possible to tell the difference from two days ago so I am not going to worry about posting this photo. Since it was quite cold this evening, I treated myself with a wonderful bowl of chili. After the fire in my little wood burning stove was going well and the stove was hot, I placed the saucepan with the chili atop the stove and it heated remarkably well. I have been experimenting with cooking on the wood stove because it is nice to have the heat in the room and also to use the heat for cooking food or making hot drinks; this saves electricity at the same time that it is cooking. Along with the chili, I was trying to make toast, though this was not so successful. I also wanted to make a hot drink on the wood stove but this also was not a success so I shall continue to experiment and see what works and what does not.
26 JANUARY, 2021 This day has been quite sunny and bright, though toward evening it began to darken and the temperature dropped. As a result, I now have a nice and warm fire going in my little stove and am getting ready for tea. No changes on the kitchen to report. I was searching on the web for some information concerning the All Saints of North America and came across a new icon which has been just published by the Georgian Orthodox Monastery of St Nina, in Unionbridge, Maryland. This icon is quite nice, in traditional, canonical style, and also contains Saint Peter the Aleut and Matushka Olga of Alaska. As well, I was checking for Orthodox examples of the Bible or Psalter and have found several excellent examples of new English language translations of the Septuagint text. I don’t know why it has taken so long but recently there has been an increase in the translation of Orthodox liturgical books as well as other works, such as the writings of the Holy Fathers, works on the history of Orthodox countries, church architecture and iconography. There is enough new material to keep the interested person constantly involved in finding and reading this material. It might be of interest for people to also know that much material is also available in the form of e-books as well as on various sites on the computer. In the area of cooking, today I managed to work with red peppers which are one of my favourite foods. These I shredded, along with onions and a bit of garlic, then added them to canned vegetable soup. With miniature croissants and a glass of Inka, this was the perfect meal.
25 JANUARY, 2021 There are no changes in the kitchen to report but by the weekend there should be more to report. Following the short visit at the library, Andy took me to the store where I bought a large bag of bell peppers which I like to fry and mix with other vegetables, or chop up and put into soups. This particular package has red, yellow and orange peppers so I’m looking forward to trying them. I also found my beloved “Spanish Peanuts” but also discovered that they are not called that in the store, rather are called something totally different. These I like to fry with spinach and seaweed and they add a really nice flavour to the blend. With the day being sunny, Andy and I went into town. We were going to fix my phone but this had to be postponed until tomorrow. Then we went to the library where a couple of books were waiting for me, one on the history of the Moscow Kremlin from the very beginning until the 21st Century, and the second on the subject of the gentrification of large cities. Today proved to be an excellent day at the monastery. There was snow on the mountains all around the monastery but none at our ground level. During the day, the temperature was a bit warm but now (following the setting of the sun) it is quite cold. Today my cooking adventure was mainly in the area of sandwich making and eating fresh fruits. There is also a large jar of pickled red peppers which go well with sandwiches, along with pickled beets and delicious Inka.
24 JANUARY, 2021 Anyone who reads the Daily Diary may have noticed a break recently. This was due to the fact that the diary is typed and sent through email. There was a problem with my email and I was unable to send any e-notes, hence, also no diary entries. Today Igor fixed my problem and explained what to do if it occurs again and this means diary entries have returned. Last night, following an excellent Vesper service, we had a Pannikhida for Elena Beznyak’s grandmother who reposed recently. The Pannikhida was partially in Slavonic and partially in English and went very well. Please remember to pray for Elena’s grandmother. Back to the future kitchen. Work continues on the kitchen and it is amazing what has been done by our little group of kitchen enthusiasts. Recently, a tile floor was installed and the entire room was painted a beautiful ivory which lightened the room considerably. All the electrical wiring has been completed and recently new overhead lighting discs were installed. There is even a new entry way which includes an enlarged door and the removal of the overhead window which allowed a good deal of heat to escape. Right now, I have a fire in the wood burning stove and am in the process of making a soup which is a combination of an already prepared soup but to which I have added black eye peas. With toast and a big glass of Inka, this should be a substantial meal to end the day.
12 JANUARY, 2021 I went to the church to check the lampada and it was good that I did because it was nearly out of oil. I didn’t check yesterday because it was cold and wet and my arthritis was quite bad so going up and down stairs was not an appealing exercise for the day. Any way, there was also the holy things that were in need of returning to the altar so this was another task. Archbishop Lazar had presented a program on video, on Sunday afternoon, concerning the service of Proskomedia which is served in order to prepare the holy bread and wine for the Liturgy. Along with the various objects, there was instruction to explain what was done with each object on the table; this is important information because many people are not aware that the Liturgy doesn’t just begin at 10, rather there is a period of preparation which begins with Vespers, then continues to Matins and the serving of the Proskomedia before the Lliturgy proper can begin. Well, even though most people have seen this presentation before, it is always good to remind them and refresh their memories since humans have a tendency to forget. Another Tuesday and it seems that this month is moving along rapidly. After completing the task of putting everything away, then I went to the future kitchen to check out what was being done today. Father Markel and another man (sorry, I don’t know his name) were working on the installation of the new floor. There were large sheets of heavy duty wood leaning against the wall and what to me look like gigantic planks, also being made ready to install in the proper places. I told Father Markel that I was there to take photographs and he asked that I wait until the job was completed because then it would be much more recognizeable to any who viewed the photos. Great idea! I left and returned to my little kellia where there was proofreading sitting on the table and needing attention.
11 JANUARY, 2021 In my little cooking space, I tried another food experiment. This time, I made the usual instant oatmeal but also added various kinds of fruits, including chunks of avocado, chopped orange slices, and bananas. To accompany it, was made grilled cheese but in addition to the cheese, I had fried several onion slices which I put onto the cheese slice before grilling the whole sandwich. This was all washed down with another glass of sauerkraut juice which I am beginning to find quite refreshing and tasty. Monday mornings are always difficult, especially during the rainy and cold season. If you ever experience arthritis, you will understand exactly what I mean. Any way, today was another quiet and peaceful day
10 JANUARY, 2021 Today is another quiet and peaceful Sunday. As always, the day began with the reading of Matins and was followed by the Liturgy, which was served by Father Markel and Archbishop Lazar. The service went well but by the time it ended, I was close to total exhaustion; it seems that my recovery from the Abbotsford hospital experience will take longer than I had thought. Any way, I had to take what was planned to be just a short nap but I fell asleep without realizing it.
9 JANUARY, 2021 Today has proved to be a quiet and peaceful Saturday. Once again I am working on a new icon which is a bit of a challenge because the subject has an Asian face and most icons are of non-Asian subjects. The tricky part is how to present them without exaggerating and trying to make the icon conform to canonical rules. I have looked through many books to see how various racial and ethnic groups are presented in iconography but there is not much to follow. We shall see how this icon turns out. For lunch I made my favourite, vegetable salad, but again by frying all the vegetables in the electric skillet. This time the salad was not only of green beans but also of chic peas, okra and sea weed. The dressing of the finished product was olive oil and lemon juice. Accompanying it was toast smeared with almond butter and a couple of oranges for dessert. I am still not a great cook but it seems that my cooking is improving.
8 JANUARY, 2021 Today I consider to be “Orthodox Boxing Day” so to speak, even though probably no one else thinks of it in this way. To celebrate Boxing Day, I asked Andy to take me into town where we went to the phone centre to have my phone repaired. The phone was quite wonky and had totally turned off so that no one could call me and I could not make any out calls. For a very long time, my phone also did not ring so the only way I could tell that someone was calling was if I happened to see the screen flashing. This was a bit of a problem and another reason I was anxious to see if the problem could be fixed. As well, during any conversation, the phone would turn off even though the conversation was ongoing and this probably caused some people to be upset with me. Well, now hope that these problems are solved. Another day at the monastery. I am still working on the icon of St Peter of the Mongol Horde and it is about 50% completed. The difficulty in doing this icon has been to follow the traditional requirements for canonical iconography but also to present St Peter as obviously a Mongol, not as a European. I have checked the icon sketchbooks we have but there are no forms to follow. Thankfully, I found a sketch in a copy of an Orthodox magazine and the sketch was of St Peter, created by a well known Orthodox iconographer. This will be a great help in completing the icon. After going to the phone store, Andy then took me to the grocery store where I bought more cream of mushroom soup. Today I am going to try making the soup and adding crushed sea weed to it, along with some frozen green beans. As a special treat, I am also going to have a couple of fried eggs liberally sprinkled with black pepper and a nice apple for dessert and all washed down with a tasty glass of Inka with milk.
7 JANUARY, 2021 Nativity – Christ is born! Following the Liturgy, people left for their homes, so there was no feast or much socializing, though everyone did say hello to everyone else before leaving. This has been a rather long day. We began with Matins at 8 and continued on to the feast day Liturgy at 10. A number of people were in attendance, even though today is a regular work day. Now many people are working from home so are able to give more time to things like attending church, though now people are also restricted from large gatherings, including religious services and some people are being cautious by not attending any gatherings of more than just a couple of people. Today is the Orthodox feast of the Nativity of Christ.
6 JANUARY, 2021 Today is Nativity Eve at the monastery (well, in other places as well) and I have been busy. Since today was sunny (and no rain), it was possible to take a walk down the road to the front gate of the monastery. What an experience to be thankful for, and I am. The temperature was still a bit cold but the air was so clean and easy to breathe. Even though we are officially in the midst of winter, it was surprising to see how much living greenery there is on the monastery grounds at this time of year. What I was thinking was, “What a wonderful Nativity Eve gift !”
4 JANUARY, 2021 The kitchen once again became a place of experimentation this evening. I love green beans and had bought a large package of frozen green beans when shopping last week. What the experiment consisted of was frying the frozen green beans with red peppers and onions. There were no cooking instructions on the green bean package so I wasn’t sure how frying might affect the texture of the beans. It turns out that all went well, though the beans were just a little bit tough, but tasty. Next time, I shall add just a little water to the frying pan in order to simmer them and hope this makes them not so tough. I went to the church to check the lampada and the church. After adding oil to the lampada, I then decorated the icon of the Nativity with greenery from several different plants and then was able to add a bit of colour with tiny rose hips which I found near the entrance. There were a lot of white berries that would have been a nice addition to the greenery but most of these berries had already passed their time and were beginning to change to brown on one side and were getting a bit squishy. Today has been another cold and damp day with a lot of rain for the first half of the day. When it finally stopped raining in the afternoon, I took a walk down the road and to the entrance of the monastery property. One of the reasons for my walk was to search for greenery and any kind of flower or decorative plant to use for decorating the Nativity icon.
3 JANUARY, 2021. It was possible to take a few more photos of the work on the future kitchen, which will be wonderful when completed. After we completed the Pannikhida, a young couple came with their new baby, to ask for the prayers of blessing for the mother and the new baby. Even with the weather being what it was, we still had the Matin service early in the morning, followed by the Liturgy. Everything went smoothly. After the Liturgy, we served a Pannikhida at the request of Elena Beznyak, for her grandmother. This also went very well, though it was a bit hard to stand during the service due to my arthritis. This day started off with cold and rain and remained that way most of the day. For several short periods of time, the sun came out and it almost looked like the sky would clear and the day would be less daunting. Well, it didn’t work out that way.
2 JANUARY, 2021 This day at the monastery was one of rain, rain, and more rain. I am surprised that the property has not flooded, though the fields are drenched and unsafe for any object weighing more than a few pounds. As I do every day, I went next door to add oil to the lampada and trim the wick, then set up the reading for the Epistle, changed the candles on the candle stands and went into the future kitchen to check progress of the work being done; very impressive. The drying of the plaster has been completed so I took 5 photos of the work, showing both the kitchen area and the entrance where the stone work was removed, along with the closet, in order to make a more orderly and friendly entrance way. Very nice work.
1 January, 2021. This first day of the year was quiet and relaxed. As far as I know, there was only one visitor to the monastery today, who lit some candles in the big church and then came by to say hello. Well, we actually made it to the year 2021; for a while it looked rather doubtful. In the late afternoon, I did kitchen duty by making a new years treat for myself, traditional style English fish and chips, which is one of my favourite things to eat. Along with the fish and chips, I made a kind of salad from English cucumbers and red peppers and washed it all down with a tall glass of ginger ale mixed with orange juice. Someone had given a large bag of golden apples which are another of my favourites and one of these I sliced, sprinkled with pepper and had for dessert. This is not a bad way to finish the first day of the new year.
31 DECEMBER, 2020 This is the last diary entry for the year 2020. It has been a rough year for many people, including the residents of the monastery. In spite of the difficulties, there have been many positive actions, such as the present renovation of the monastery kitchen, the new roofing of all the buildings, and now the improved video and sound system for the church which allows the transmission of services by way of Zoom and Youtube. I try not to be superstitious but hope all these positive things are an indication of more positive things in the year 2021. We all can pray that God bless and save us. The morning began with a large van in the parking area. It was some of the people working on the kitchen, checking the dry walling and the heating in order to make sure that all this work was in order. It was. In the kitchen, I made a large bowl of instant oatmeal with the lemon pudding poured over it, added some fresh fruit and chopped nuts. To accompany it, I made multigrain toast which was spread with almond butter and peach jam. All of this was washed down with my favourite drink, Inka with silk.
30 DECEMBER, 2020 Today was another very cold and humid day at the monastery. I don’t usually start the fire in my wood burning stove until after 5 in the evening but today I started it at 3. How wonderful it is to sit before a blazing fire which takes the dampness out of the air and offers some relief from arthritic pains. It is unfortunate that this relief is temporary but I am thankful for even this. The culinary efforts have been interesting as well. I mentioned previously about making a vegetarian (or is it properly called “fruitarian”) lemon pudding. It was supposed to sit in the fridge over night and become thicker; this didn’t happen. It sat in the fridge for 2 days and every time I checked it, it was still quite liquid and obviously was going to remain that way. Since I didn’t want to waste the pudding, I made a large bowl of instant oatmeal and used my pudding the way I usually use almond milk or soy milk. It was actually quite tasty so I will have another bowl tomorrow.
29 DECEMBER, 2020 This was another quiet day at the monastery. I did have one visitor who brought two jars, one of vegetarian caviar and another of pickled red peppers; nice treats.
28 DECEMBER, 2020 Another partly sunny day here at the monastery. Someone came early this morning to work on the drywall in our future kitchen. I did go over this evening to take some excellent photographs of the work being done and it is impressive. Where there had been a sort of half wall and fountain made of stone, much of this has been removed and levelled so that the area that once had been a little entrance hall is now open and is much more inviting. At this time, there is a heater helping to dry the plaster that was used to seal the small spaces between the sheets of drywall. The road leading in and out of the monastery is quite safe and dry but the fields on either side are rather flooded and muddy so anyone driving off the road would probably get stuck and even sink into the muck. The parking area is still safe and solid. When checking out the drywall in what is to become the new kitchen, I also went into the big hall to look for a vegetable peeler. I found several so took one to use and also was pleased to find a potato slicer. Now that I am allowed to eat potatoes, I have been slicing them by hand in order to prepare them for frying. With this slicer, all that is necessary is to wash the potatoes and then slice them with this little machine. It is much safer than using a knife and certainly much faster. Another advantage is that there is a little dial so a person can set the dial to make the slices the thickness they desire. This is a great help when cooking the potatoes because they all cook evenly and there is no problem with having some cooked and some only partially cooked. Also, there is a setting that allows for the cutting of potato fingers, in case a person wanted to make chips for “fish and chips”.
27 DECEMBER, 2020 A Sunday morning which began with the reading of Matins at 8.00 in the big church. As is often the case, Sorin and Georgeta were in church doing the reading of Matins while Father Markel was preparing things in the altar, as well as serving the priestly parts of Matins. The services were being broadcast for those who wished to take part. At 10, I managed to arrive for the Liturgy which was already being introduced by both Archbishop Lazar and Father Markel. Today, I made sure not to oversleep because I didn’t want to miss the Liturgy and ruin my day. The Liturgy went well and hopefully our “Zoomer family” had the chance to sanctify their day by participating in these sacred prayers.
26 DECEMBER, 2020 Today has proved to be a quiet and relaxed day here at the monastery. As I look out the window from my balcony, I see the two large chipper trucks parked and at rest. Then looking further toward the main road, I see that our fields are flooded and almost look like the California rice paddies in Northern California. Lastly, looking even further toward the main road, I see that all the snow has melted on the mountains on the opposite side of our valley (it has also been noted that it didn’t take long for the snow to melt, even though it was quite a heavy snowfall). Since later in the day I was rather tired, it seemed like a good idea to lie down and take a short rest before the Saturday evening Vesper service. Much to my surprise, when I woke up, the clock registered 21.00, which meant that I missed Vespers, so had to get up and read it in my little icon corner.
25 DECEMBER, 2020 Well, for the world, today was Christmas but at the monastery, today on the calendar was for St Herman of Alaska, or St Spyridon. As a result, it was pretty quiet here and I believe there were no visitors. Around noon, I did get enough courage to venture out into the cold and next door, in order to add oil to the lampada which we keep burning in the big church. It was fine and all that was needed was to remove some excess carbon from the wick. Then, I went down the stairs in order to check out the work that had been done in the future kitchen. Wow! What a difference there was. With all the dry wall finally installed, the room looked amazing. I was able to take several photographs of key areas of the work so that it would be obvious what has been done. The work is not complete because the lines between the drywall have to be plastered and smoothed so that there are no seams in the walls. Even so, It is easy to imagine this room as a fully functioning kitchen. There were also new plywood sheets laid down on the floor and this also will aid in making the room a better space and much sturdier than before. Today I also tried something new in the kitchen. I made a pot of vegetable soup but the difference is that I added avocado to the soup. The inspiration came from turtle soup which is quite rich and oily, just like avocadoes and it was delicious, without having to hurt any turtles. There is a nice fire burning in my little stove so I think that now will be a good time to make and enjoy a nice, tall glass of Inka.
24 DECEMBER, 2020 Today at the monastery it was cold and there is still snow on the ground, though now it is a bit thinner. Another caution concerning the snow is that now it has melted and in the cold, refrozen. This means that there are spots where the snow is hard and slippery, it also means that there are spots where the snow has melted and cannot be seen but has formed a layer of ice which if stepped upon could be very dangerous and cause a serious fall. This was one of my concerns today because Andy volunteered to take me into town where I had to pick up some new pills and buy a container of milk which is used for taking the medication. In order to get into town, it was necessary to walk through the snow and along the entrance, which had some icy areas that were extremely slippery. Thankfully I had my faithful bamboo cane with the rubber food, which helps to keep balanced when walking and also helps to prevent slipping. Andy and I made it into town, picked up the medication and made it back to the monastery without any mishaps. In town there was no problem with snow or ice because there doesn’t seem to have been much snow in Mission and all the walkways were safe and dry. I didn’t go next door to take photos of the kitchen because I didn’t want to get in the way while the workers were busy and, by the time they were finished and left, it was getting dark and too difficult to see the walkway. In order to prevent any accidents, I decided that it was best to stay inside and take a few photos tomorrow during daylight when I could see where I was walking and where not to walk.
23 DECEMBER, 2020 Most of today at the monastery was sunny but, again, not warm. We still have snow on the ground but it is melting and sliding off the roof of the various buildings. Today I went to the big church to check the lampada and add more oil and was surprised that it was burning just fine and only a little oil needed to be added. Since I had not been to the church since Sunday afternoon, I collected the icon of St Nicholas in order to return him to my icon corner. After reading a short little prayer, I went down the stairs and into the future kitchen to check out what was happening. Fr Markel and Andy were trimming and installing the new drywall and I was trying to get good shots of their work, without getting in their way. I’m not an expert in this kind of work but what they were doing looks excellent to me. It is so interesting to watch as what was an empty and gutted room, slowly is morphing into a recognizeable kitchen area. Since the work had to be done with at least one open window, the room was super cold so I only stayed long enough to take some photos of their work, chat most briefly and then leave.
22 DECEMBER, 2020 There was not too much happening today, no work on the future kitchen, no visitors that I could see and no snow. Today the snow that we had so much of yesterday, was in the process of melting, and melting quickly. The sun was out and this helped to speed up the melting process. Every so often I would hear a large “thud” and feel the ground tremor, as large globs of snow slid off the roof and onto the ground. Walking about was also rather hazardous due the the slippery ground so, I didn’t even attempt to go next door and I hope the lampada is burning all right. Even though today was sunny, it was still cold. This evening I made a good size fire in the wood burning stove. It seems that wood heat is pleasant because it takes the dampness out of the air and it also smells good. Andy had brought wood over for me and checks to see that I have enough wood to keep the place warm. I don’t have the stove burning all day, just in the evening when the temperature drops noticeably and the dampness seems to creep into everything.
21 DECEMBER, 2020 This day at the monastery has been quite restful. The chippers were here very early in the morning, working with Andy. I was in the process of preparing food when our electricity went off. As is usual, I had heard that it was going to snow today so prepared two large containers of water because at the first snow, we always lose our electric power and the way it works is, “no power, no water”. Needless to say, with everything being electric, water is not the only thing we don’t have. There is no light, no heat, no cooking and so on. How long the power will be out is never a certain thing so we do have to be prepared, rather like being prepared for an earthquake. Sometimes the power is out for only a few hours and at other times, it is out for much of the day or sometimes even for days. This year has not been so bad and we have lost our power only a few times but, it was for certain that with the first snow, it would be blackout time. Since it was not yet dark, I got my trusty camera and was able to get some excellent photographs of the “first snow” of the season. For a while, it was also quite windy and that means snow drifts on the road. I did see a Bobcat later in the day, clearing the road and the parking area where the chippers are presently resting. At 21.00, the electric power came back on soooooo, even though it is not good to eat an evening meal after 19.00, I finished cooking the food that was in the skillet when the power went off, and am going to eat it before retiring for the night. Hopefully we will have power tomorrow, without the snow.
20 DECEMBER, 2020 An interesting and rewarding day here at the monastery. We began the day with Matins and then continued with the Liturgy. My arthritis was bothering me so badly today that it was hard to walk. During the Liturgy, I had to sit on the stool that Andy had thoughtfully made for me; it is almost the same height as the reading stand so that I can either stand or sit and read the books or follow the music on the reading stand. Today I sat for close to 70% of the service. In spite of this, the service went very well. As always, the readers did an excellent job of planning the proper hymns for the day and knowing the changeable parts of the service. For some of the Romanian parts, they did a new (well, new to me) form of the “Lord have mercy” which I could not quite get. I am one of those people who needs to see the notes in order to actually be able to produce them with my vocal chords. I spoke on the phone with Nianna and she told me that the audio and video were excellent, soooo, this means we no longer have to worry about the quality of our transmissions. This is a relief for everyone because they were worried that people could not hear the service and/or could not see clearly. Following the Liturgy, we had a cup of tea in the hall and a bit of a chat before preparing to leave. It was Andy’s birthday so it was requested that “many years” be sung for him, which we did before having tea. Two young Russian ladies came to visit and they had made a birthday cake and also brought a gift pack for Andy and a similar gift pack for me. Even though I don’t like celebrating birthdays, I accepted the gift and was glad to have done so because inside were all kinds of health goodies, such as cookies made without gluten or sugar but very tasty; various packets of nuts, including Wasabi peas, and roasted Chana which are two of my favourites. Andy got a new hat so now we won’t recognize him without his grungy baseball cap! This evening, after taking a short nap, I went back to the hall in order to get a pitcher of water. I was there for only a short time when I heard Andy coming up the stairs. I am thankful that he pays attention to whether people are in the building and checks things out. Any way, I had a little present for him which he accepted and then we had a brief chat, I got my water and hobbled back next door. A good ending for a good day.
19 DECEMBER, 2020 Here we are once again with the diary in the future monastery kitchen. Fr Markel, Sorin and Andy were working very hard today and the results are visually obvious. Today all the insulation was completed and now the room is ready to have the drywall installed. I went over just before evening Vespers, again with my trusty camera, and took photos of the work that has been accomplished. Immediately upon entering the room, I could feel the difference that the new walling material and the insulation have made. It was still a little bit cool but not cold and you could not see your breath. For the evening Vesper service, we remembered Saint Nicholas. Since this was his day, I took the icon of St Nicholas from my icon corner, to use during the service. The icon has been with me where ever I have gone, since the 1980,s so it seemed proper to have him with us in church today. Following the Vesper service, Fr Markel served a Panikhida with me as the chanter.
18 DECEMBER, 2020 Today a new and interesting chapter was added to the story of the monastery kitchen renewal. Father Markel and Andy were busy working away in the future kitchen with the new insulation. As always, I took photographs of the work, though I waited until after Father and Andy stopped working because this insulation is the kind that comes in sort of pillows and I believe it is made of glass fibres so isn’t exactly what people with bad lungs should be hanging around. The installation of the insulation is not yet complete but seems to be 75%. The entire ceiling has been insulated and, oh yes, the new wooden floor has also been installed. I believe that the floor is going to have some kind of kitchen tiles installed over it. On the subject of cooking, again I tried something new. Since green beans is one of my favourite foods, I decided to try making them with onions. These were fried in a large skillet and then I added firm tofu with mushroom soy sauce. I firmly placed the lid on the skillet so that it was a bit like steaming everything. Then came the toast with peanut butter and a big glass of Inka.
16 DECEMBER, 2020 Two interesting things came about today: I was able to renew my services card, and also try some new culinary experiments. Andy and I went into Abbotsford today and after all the effort to make an appointment, I was expecting the process to be long and require a lot of waiting. It was nothing like this. As soon as I walked into the ICBC and announced my appointment, I was sent to a series of chairs where we were told to wait. After only a minute, I was called to a counter where I presented my card, he asked a couple of questions and then walked me over to the area where a camera was waiting to take a new photo. We then returned to his little window where I signed a paper and that was it. The man was polite, efficient and could speak three languages. Following the time spent renewing the card, Andy and I went to the Fresh Co Store to do a bit of shopping. I wanted to visit because I had heard that they have vegetarian chili in cans. I didn’t want to stay very long because I am still trying to limit my social interactions to as little as possible. There were a lot of excellent food products in the store and I managed to find some super good deals, though vegetarian chili was not one of them. I just returned from next door where I went to inspect the work on the future kitchen. Today Andy and Sorin are concentrating on the electrical work since Igor helped to prepare the interior. When I went over, I could hear the sound of drill bits punching through the wood and could smell the odor that wood has when heat is applied to it (in this case, from the drills). There were huge spools of wire as well as wire with a rubbery coating, and these were being threaded through the many holes that were being drilled into the wood. Little metal boxes were also being attached to the areas where various wires met and were joined together. It all looks very complicated and way beyond my understanding but it is fun to watch the work being done and wondering about how it will look when completed.
15 DECEMBER, 2020 Another cold and wet day here at the monastery. Even so, work continues on the future kitchen and will cause the new kitchen to be a huge improvement over the older version. The old kitchen served us well and created a lot of welcome memories but it was getting to be used more and more often and the deficiencies of the design were becoming obvious. The new design will be both attractive and efficient and serve to create new and equally welcome memories. After fixing the lampada in the church, I then went down to the future kitchen to check on the work that had been done today. The first and most notable aspect was the removal of the pantry and the beginning of the construction of the new floor. The floor area had been extended by what I am guessing is a metre and even though this doesn’t sound like a lot, it is amazing how much larger it makes the room. My understanding is that an island is to be constructed at one end of the kitchen. There is to be a lot more but I’m not yet aware of these constructions at this time.
13 DECEMBER, 2020 We have had a cold and wet but otherwise pleasant Sunday at the monastery. No work was done on the kitchen since today is a “day of rest”, though there was a bit of discussion about some future work that is still to be accomplished. Since today was the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, who is the patron saint of many Orthodox countries, we had an icon of Saint Andrew out on an analoy in the middle of the church and even though there are very few flowers, we managed to find berries and “Chinese lanterns” to decorate the icon. The Matin was chanted by Sorin and Georgeta, and as always, they did an excellent job. I arrived at 10 for the beginning of the Liturgy and even though I am still having a little trouble breathing, managed to get through the service. At the end of the service, we chanted the “Many Years” for all of those who are named after the Apostle Andrew and then adjourned with a blessing to continue the remainder of the day.
12 DECEMBER, 2020 Today has proved to be a sunny day here at the monastery. The air is cold and crisp and clear, which means that the view of the surrounding mountains is quite spectacular. From this distance, the mountains appear as sapphire blue, topped with pure white snow. Often there are masses of clouds swirling around them and it tends to remind me of pictures I have seen of the Himalaya mountains or the Alps. Thankfully the temperature doesn’t match the view. This evening, Vespers was served as a closed service which Fr Markel and I served in the big church. With tomorrow being the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, we put out the icon of St Andrew for the Vesper service and it will remain on the analoy during the Liturgy tomorrow. There were a number of men working on the future kitchen again today and they accomplished an enormous amount of work. As always, after Vespers, I peeked into the kitchen and took photographs of the progress that is being made so that we have a record of changes in the physical aspects of the monastery.
11 DECEMBER, 2020 Today has been a rather eventful day. For the first time, I received a long email from a friend who has recently moved to Slovakia. I am so pleased to correspond with him because I have relatives living in Slovakia and in the Czech Republic and several other areas of Eastern Europe, though I have never met them so have to say that I don’t really know them. No matter, through correspondence hopefully that will change. The second big event is the further work being done on the future kitchen in the main monastery building. As always, I have been going over to fix the lampada burning before the “Joy of Canada” icon, say a short prayer, and then move to the future kitchen to take photos of the work in progress. Today, electrical work was being done. Since I am not well acquainted with the intricacies of electricity and how to manipulate it, it was enough to photograph the men at work. Not only were they doing work on the future kitchen area but also on the laundry room which still looks rather unfinished. Andy had to travel into Mission to purchase some parts for the electrical work and asked if I would like to go along for the ride. Since I have not left the monastery since returning from the Abbotsford Hospital, I accepted his kind offer. The drive was pleasant and I enjoyed viewing the changed landscape. When we arrived at the store, I stayed in the truck while Andy went in to purchase the parts. Nine and Five were with us and sat patiently guarding me and awaiting Andy’s return.
10 DECEMBER, 2020 Another interesting day at the monastery. The chippers returned in the early morning with two trucks this day. Work continues on the room that is to be the kitchen. A lot has already been done but there is still quite a bit more to be accomplished. Kirill stopped by briefly, wearing a mask and blue latex gloves and kept the proper distance during our visit. He stayed for a very short time but it was good to see him.
9 DECEMBER, 2020 Here at the monastery, work continues on upgrading the kitchen. At this time, the area looks nothing like a kitchen since everything has been removed and the way made for important changes. Today, new framing was installed. The old insulation was removed and bagged to be taken away with the trash and the new framing installed so that new insulation could be added to the room.
8 DECEMBER, 2020 Rain, cold, wet, what else is there to report to the diary about today at the monastery?! Truly today was cold and wet but this did not deter further work on the future kitchen. This evening I went over to do my usual cleaning of the lampada that burns before the Joy of Canada icon, and adding more oil, then when leaving the church, I went to the room that is to be the new kitchen and was surprised by the amount of work that has been done. Today, the entire ceiling was removed, which means the insulation, the plastic and all the ceiling plaster. There were 6 new trash bags full of stuff, waiting to be removed. Work began in the morning and continued until around 4 in the afternoon, so it is clear to see that there is a lot of work involved in renovating the kitchen.
7 DECEMBER, 2020 This day has been fairly quiet, though I received a number of phone calls which were rather interesting. The first was from Stavroula’s mother, calling just to say hello and check on the health of all those resident in the monastery. We had a long conversation and I was surprised that she knew who I am but I didn’t know who she was. The second call was from one of our neighbours who wanted to check on the possibility of removing a tree which grows on our property but overhangs hers. The tree is in the process of dying and she fears it either falling or being blown over during this winter season. In the area of food preparation, today I made a large bowl of oatmeal with mixed fresh fruit. The fruit is a gift from Andrei and consisted of a variety: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes and bananas and mandarin oranges. An excellent collection which combines to make also an excellent fruit salad.
6 DECEMBER, 2020 The big diary entry today mostly has to do with the Liturgy which was a closed celebration, meaning that only the servers and chanters and the reader, were allowed to physically attend the service. Sorin and Georgeta read the Matins service while the Proskomedia was being served inside the altar, to prepare the bread and wine for the Liturgy. Due to having chanted the Vespers service on Saturday with Father Markel, I didn’t show up until 10, for the Liturgy. The Zoom setup was used and this time we had a sound system which was nice because with this system functioning, it was possible to hear Archbishop Lazar and Father Markel, during the Liturgy. A few times the system hummed and a couple of times the volume increased but mostly things were working well. Following the Liturgy, there was a bit of discussion on a few improvements to the Zoom system and then a look at the gutted kitchen and a review of the plans for the renovations. I tried to take photos of the guttted kitchen as it looks now, as a future reference and to show people how much work has been done, but my camera isn’t cooperating for some reason.
4 DECEMBER, 2020 Today is the feast of the “Entry of the Theolokos into the Temple” and we celebrated it at the monastery with a closed Liturgy. The service began at around 9:30 with the reading of the Hours and then the Liturgy began at 10.00. Archbishop Lazar, Father Markel and myself were the ones in attendance and I don’t believe this service was broadcast on Zoom. Any way, the service went fairly smoothly except for the fact that my chanting was a bit rough. I still have trouble breathing and get tired easily so can’t stand long during the services. There was nothing that could be done about the breathing because that will take time but, Andy had made a stool for me and it was in the church and ready for use. Since it is quite tall, I can sit on it and still read the service books, then stand up whenever is necessary. After the Liturgy ended, Father Markel and I had a bit of a chance to talk over a cup of tea. After a short visit, Father Markel had to leave and I was exhausted to needed to take a nap to regain my strength. Overall, it was a great feastday with a mostly sunny day, no wind and it wasn’t too cold, though the church was pretty cold during the services.
2 DECEMBER, 2020 Another sunny and cool day at the monastery. With the bright sun, it looked like one of the first days of Spring but as soon as I opened the door and began to walk outside, I could feel that it was obviously Winter. Surprisingly, when looking out the window, I saw ducks swimming in the little waterway that flows before our building. This was a surprise since there have not been any birds visible for at least a week. There were very tiny birds flying in and out of the blackberry bushes and these were so small that I have no idea what they are, maybe some kind of chickadee. After trudging next door to trim the wick on the lampada burning in front of the Theotokos icon, I then thought it might be a good idea to take a short walk. The walk went only as far as the gatehouse, then into the parking area and then back to the gatehouse and returning to my little kellia to warm up with a hot and steaming cup of Inka. I did find a frame for the icon of Christ Pantocrator that is for the guestroom. The frame is close to the exact size for the icon and has even the glass in perfect condition.
1 DECEMBER, 2020 Even though it is supposed to be Winter, today doesn’t show many signs of that fact. As I write this entry, it is sunny and quite bright outside. For the first time in several days, I have seen birds of some kind which at first I thought were ducks, but which are not. As a culinary treat, I tried something new. The process began by frying mushrooms until they were browned, then adding sliced onion, again until they had begun to brown. The “something extra” was a collection of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sultanas, almonds, peanuts and cashews, which were ground into powder and then added to the mushroom and onion mix. These were then added to the macaroni that I was making, though I am not fond of pasta. Once the hot macaroni was put into a bowl, the above mix was added and all of it was sprinkled with black pepper and Ranch dressing. The side dish was fried vegetarian hot dogs and toasted multigrain bread and delicious pickled red beets, all washed down with, you guessed it, a large glass of Inka.
28 NOVEMBER, 2020 What a contrast today has been with the days of the previous week. Early morning, the sky was filled with dark clouds but in one section of the sky, there was a bit of white cloud and you could see the sun behind these clouds. Then it rained for a while, then cleared and the remainder of today has been sunny (though not terribly warm). Finally I got my phone to stop beeping every 3 minutes. Well, I didn’t do it myself but Andy looked at my phone and I explained the problem and he then explained that when we get the emergency message, we have to respond in order for the phone to stop going off every 3 minutes. He answered and immediately the beeping stopped, which was a relief because it has been beeping every 3 minutes for the passed 2 days and even kept me up all night. I couldn’t just put the phone somewhere and ignore it because it needs to be nearby so that I can answer any important call that comes in. Today, for the first time, I used one of the new cooking pots that have been given to me. It is really nice, just the right size and has both a wooden handle and wooden knob on the pyrex lid. The pyrex lid is most helpful because this means I can look at the food and judge how well it is cooking and if it is done. I had been given some soups which I was eating cold but now with these new cooking utensils, I can warm the soup and have nice, hot soup, which is one of my favourite things to eat, with toast.
27 NOVEMBER, 2020 Right now, it is cloudy and cold here at the monastery. It is not raining and this is good because the wood chipping trucks are here and able to do their work without getting soaked. I noticed them early this morning when I got up and walked by the window where there were all kinds of lights glowing in the early morning. It was noticeable since there were 2 trucks with multiple lights and was similar to what you see when driving along the highway and coming upon a road accident with the ambulance lights, lights from the police cars and so on. The only difference is that none of these lights were flashing, though there were several different colours: yellow, orange, red. I watched them for a while until they drove away and was surprised that they returned this afternoon. I’m not sure if it is due to the chips or the weather but there are bunches of tiny little birds fluttering around in the parking area and near the mound of chips. At first I thought they were hummingbirds but know that it is too cold for hummingbirds to be here. Also, they don’t move in the same way as hummingbirds and are one, uniform colour. I tried counting them and there must be at least 45 to 50 of these birds. Following my bird watching, I went next door to the church to fix the lampada. The flame was still burning brightly, even though I didn’t go to the church yesterday, due to the heavy rain and cold. I trimmed the wick and added oil because the oil was quite low, then said a short prayer before the icon and returned to have a welcome glass of Inka.
26 NOVEMBER, 2020 Once again it proved to be mostly a rainy day here at the monastery. I am back to trying to get my sewing machine to work; it is frustrating because I’ll sew something and it looks like the machine is working just fine and then when I look at the stitches, they are knotted and tangled. I have called up the various Youtube programs on sewing machine troubleshooting and tried their suggestions but still have not succeeded in solving the problem. The needle is fine, the thread is fine and has been properly threaded onto the machine. I even checked the interior of the machine for any build up of dirt or lint and that is not a problem. We shall see if I get the machine to work
24 NOVEMBER, 2020 Another cloudy and wet day was seen at the monastery today. As a result, I stayed in and continued with the cleaning, which I am doing a little bit each day. While cleaning, I found a little lamp and bottle of oil so set them up in my little icon corner, to light during evening prayers.
23 NOVEMBER, 2020 Here at the monastery, we lost our electricity for a goodly amount of time in the afternoon. Since it was a bit cold and I am still not well, I decided to stay in bed where it is warm and safe from inclement weather. I made a large, hot cup of Inka which I then took to my bedside table, got my book, turned on a reading lamp and was set for several hours. When the electric power came back, I got up and dressed then made my usual “mini-pilgrimage” to the church where I cleaned the wick in the lampada which burns before the “Joy of Canada” icon. Next I added more oil, lit the wick and said a short prayer. It was rather cold in the church so staying for a long period of time was not a good idea. When I left the church, I went to the kitchen to look for a cup for drinking coffee and there are a lot of them in the kitchen cabinet. Since I don’t have one, it seemed like a good idea to borrow one from the kitchen. I also needed a large bowl, again from one of the cabinets in the kitchen and am borrowing for use for things such as rinsing vegetables and fruits, and for holding foods that would spoil if left in plastic bags. Andy was in the kitchen so we had a brief chat and then I excused myself to return to my little kellia. The remainder of the day went smoothely and quietly.
22 NOVEMBER, 2020 Today was a mix of quiet and active. The quiet part is the fact that the services for today were totally closed; the only persons attending were the serving priest, the Reader and one or two chanters. As is usual for me these days, I read morning prayers at my little icon corner and then rewarded myself with a glass of Inka and two cloves of garlic. Then I was able to work on some new icons which are on old pieces of wood. It is interesting because I am using the paints that Vladika Varlaam gave me and they don’t work in quite the same way as the acrylic paints that I usually use. So far, one icon is completed and the second one is nearly complete. Later in the afternoon, a group of men brought up a new bed. I thought it would be just a box and mattress but it was a frame and wooden bed with box spring and mattress. It is such a nice piece of furniture with even a matching headboard. The old bed I had used since we first moved into the monastery, was only the box spring and mattress, with no headboard and no frame and it was more than a little worn and ready to be retired. I am sure that I will sleep much better on a firm mattress.
21 NOVEMBER, 2020 Today has been a very slow day for me. Last night I did some serious cleaning but it was too much and today my back is quite sore and I don’t have much energy (no, I am not looking for sympathy). As a result of this, the two biggest things I have done today are, make lunch, which was rolled oats and apple slices and a big slice of Jicama, then a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, all washed down with a tall glass of a mixed drink of Inka/Ovaltine. The second event of the day is that in the late evening, I made a “mini pilgrimage” to the big church to put oil in the lamp which is before the “Joy of Canada” icon, and then lit the lamp and said a short prayer. By the time I returned to my little kellia, I was too tired to do anything else except sit down. Lija sent a nice note with greetings for the feast of Archangel Michael so I wanted to note this in the diary. Vladika Lazar and Andy spent some time watching the Eagles play. They have finished fishing for salmon in the small Creek at the South boundary of the monastery and are now putting on a show to try to attract females. There are over a dozen eagles nesting on the mountain behind us.
20 NOVEMBER, 2020 Another wet and cold day here at the monastery. Even so, it is quiet and peaceful and still like living in the middle of a park. Looking down the valley toward Chilliwack, I see that the mountains in the area are covered with more snow so it is likely that their weather is much colder than ours. While looking out the window and down at the water, I noticed that even though our weather has turned cold, there is a line of water lilies and these still have green leaves floating on the water. I have never seen this kind of thing before and am surprised that they were not killed by the changing weather. Father Vasili called from Florida and it was a joy to speak with him. He is doing well and in excellent health and still running the St Herman Home. He hopes that by the time Pascha arrives, it will be possible to visit the monastery again and spend some time being with all of us.
19 NOVEMBER, 2020. Another unpredictable day at the monastery, as far as the weather is concerned. In the morning it was sunny and later it became again overcast and more rain. I did go next door to the big church to check if there was oil for the lampada which is before the “Joy of Canada” icon. It was not burning and there were no bottles of oil for replenishing the lamp. In order to be prepared for this, I brought an empty milk carton which I planned to fill and leave in the church, just for the purpose of replenishing the icon lamp. I had to go into the kitchen and open the canola oil container which was on the floor. Then it was necessary to fill one of our coffee pots with oil because only this way could I pour the oil into the milk carton. This is a slow process and difficult at this time because I’m rather shaky so it was hard to hold the coffee pot steadily to fill the carton without spilling it. In spite of the difficulty, I managed to fill the coffee pot three times, then the milk carton which I took up to the main church and put it in the cabinet in the church so that next time the lamp needs refilling, the oil will be there. This took all the excess energy I had so following this, I went back to my little living space to make a glass of Inka and catch my breath.While enjoying the Inka, the phone rang and it was a call from an old monastery visitor who now lives in the Kootenays with her husband. She wanted to let me know that several monastery acquaintances had died recently and she also wanted to pass along to me the email address of a priest I had known but lost touch with when my computer crashed several years ago. She and her husband live in isolation on a large piece of land with their “dream home”, so are quite content to be in a place that is not only safe but beautiful.
18 NOVEMBER, 2020 Rain, rain and more rain seems to be the story of today at the monastery. Since it was not possible to venture outside, it seemed like today would be another good day to do a bit of cleaning. As well, I made oatmeal but instead of using milk, used coconut milk and chopped bananas and sprinkled a few pumpkin and sunflower seeds into the mix to make it more healthy and interesting. This was all washed down with a tall glass of Inka.
17 NOVEMBER, 2020 Another day here at the monastery with mixed weather. Part of the time it was sunny and part of the time it was overcast with clouds and rain. At certain periods there was a good amount of wind so I went out onto the balcony to check and was surprised to find that it was not cold but rather quite comfortable. There were so many trains coming and going so I tried to take a few photos of them. Several times the trains were the kind of cargo trains that carry shipping containers, at other times they were made up mostly of tankers carrying liquid cargo, all quite interesting. I did venture next door for 5 minutes in order to check because I understood that we now had a new container of canola oil, for the lampada of the Theotokos. I grabbed my mask and walking stick, put a scarf around my neck and made my way next door and into the kitchen. Sure enough, there was the new container of canola oil, which had not yet been opened. I also checked in the church to see if our oil bottles were still there but these were gone. As a result, tomorrow I shall go into the kitchen with two new bottles and will fill them with canola oil, then will refill the lampada and light it so that once more we will have the acknowledgement of the love and protection which our Mother offers not only to Canada but to all those who are worthy of it.
16 NOVEMBER, 2020. Today was overcast and quite wet here at the monastery. I did manage to work on an icon since all it requires physically is to sit in a chair and hold a brush. My hands have become quite red and rough due to constantly washing them and using hand sanitizer. I have a tube of green tea lotion so put some of this on my hands and it has helped take the soreness away, though my hands are still rough and red, as though they had been sunburned. I did some vacuuming and have decided to do a little cleaning each day, so that it is not too exhausting but also so that it is not neglected.
15 NOVEMBER, 2020. Sunday and the day began with sunshine and milder weather. Once again, I was not feeling well enough to stand for any length of time so read prayers in my little icon corner while the Liturgy was being served by Archbishop Lazar and Father Shio. It remained sunny until afternoon when it once again became overcast and cooler. In the morning I took a few pictures of the beautiful rock formation just outside my window. Then in the afternoon, I took a photo of a leafless tree which is full of eagles who were continually circling the area, probably looking for fish. They would fly very high and make elegant circles, then suddenly swoop down and then up, in a “V” formation. I counted nine eagles, plus some other good size bird which I did not recognize. A number of people sent food to me so I’ll have enough to last most of the week. One of the items that came was a sheaf of garlic, which I was thrilled to receive. It has long been a habit of mine to eat garlic every day. I had stopped doing it for a while but it is a habit hat I am happy to have restored.
14 NOVEMBER, 2020. There was a good deal of activity today at the monastery. For the first time, I went outdoors and to the big church to see if anything had changed. It seems that Sorin and one of his Romanian friends, were working on installing cameras both inside the church and outside the church. If I understand the information correctly, the interior cameras are to make the Zoom broadcasts easier; with the camera in the church, all that needs to be done is flip a switch and everything is ready. With this all in place, it will be possible to broadcast church services for people who are at home or any where that they have computer access. That means that if you are camping and have your laptop computer, you can access services if they are on Zoom. Today the snow on the mountain facing the monastery is completely melted. This day doesn’t feel very warm so the melted snow was a surprise. Further down the valley, toward Agassiz and Chilliwack, the mountains seem to have more snow and are quite beautiful. I haven’t checked the weather reports for this week but it would not be a surprise if it got colder or if we had snow.
13 NOVEMBER, 2020. Today it is quite cold at the monastery. Thankfully, I have the little wood burning stove prepared just for the occasion. It has the starter material as well as several “logs” which are made to clean away the build up of tar and resins in the chimney. There is a stack of nicely dried wood to make a warm and healthy fire for when it becomes cold weather. For a short while, the sun came out and it was quite beautiful, almost golden, but then it faded away and the silver and grey clouds once again took over. There is a gentle breeze blowing outside my window I see the leaves on some of the trees, trembling in the cold. Other branches which have no leaves are simply unmoving.
12 NOVEMBER, 2020. Another grey and overcast day. There is still snow on the mountain directly facing the monastery. Looking toward Chilliwack, the mountains are more rugged and have been capped by snow so remind one of the Alps. Andy was kind enough to return the library books which I had checked out before going into the hospital in Abbotsford, which means they were long overdue. It actually makes me uncomfortable to have library books overdue or to owe a fine, so I try to return them on time and make sure to keep all fines at bay. We have an excellent library system and I don’t like to see it being abused by anyone, including myself. This afternoon I had an interesting meal which was a large salad, as you know, I love salads of all kinds. Along with the salad, I had frozen a cup of cream of broccoli soup which was delicious, as well as healthy. Dessert was a large, tasty orange bell pepper. Great way to end a meal.
11 NOVEMBER, 2020. With today being a public holiday, things here at the monastery were fairly quiet. Although I am still in isolation, it is possible to see people coming and going through the front entrance. Received a note from my nephew who has been elected Mayor of his little town in Kansas. Tomorrow they are having their first meeting of all the local town Mayors, through the uses of Zoom. This evening, I had a glass of sauerkraut juice which was quite nice. The only drawback is that since it has a lot of salt, then I was quite thirsty after the sauerkraut juice. This is the German style sauerkraut which I don’t like as much as the Russian style sauerkraut but both kinds have many health benefits.
09 NOVEMBER, 2020 This day has been rather gloomy and a bit chilly. I started to do a bit of cleaning though I have to be careful not to over do it. Since one of the things I am supposed to do is “walk around”, I thought that mixing walking with cleaning would be a good idea. I cleaned all the doorknobs and washed around the light switches. Then I had to think about the places I touch physically, such as the sink, the refrigerator, the cell phone, and so on. These I cleaned with handy wipes and some I sprayed with green spray cleaner. This was about all I could do for one day but it felt good to be able to do even this little bit. I did managed to tie up the trash and put another into the trash bin, thanks to the trash bags that Andy brought over. This means I deserve a break sooooo, made a large glass of Inka and am going to eat some garlic with it. Hmm, now I am thinking about how to make garlic toast?!
08 NOVEMBER, 2020. Today is another sunny and rather pleasant day. It is becoming windy so it isn’t sure that this means further and stronger winds or if this is just the weather for today? No matter, I am enjoying looking out the window, watching the branches do their “autumn dance” to the tune of the winds blowing up the valley. It seems a bit strange to me that some of the trees are still covered with leaves while others have branches completely bare. Also, I haven’t noticed any birds so am wondering if they have left for warmer areas or if they are just not any where near where I can see them. I was thinking of this because when in the isolation ward in Abbotsford, there were a number of birds in the trees of the little park which was just outside the window in my room. Here at the monastery the whole area is much larger than the hospital park but I haven’t seen one bird today. I think that I’ll sign off and have another of those pastries with the raspberry and chocolate filling, and a large, hot glass of Inka with milk.
06 NOVEMBER, 2020. Although I am still on voluntary isolation, again the phone has been ringing and people have been requesting information about services and so on, which I let them know should be spoken to with Fr Markel. Today was quite sunny and warm soooo, my trusty camera and I got a few shots of the outside world, though only through the windows. I tried to get a photo of the trains passing by since with the trees having less leaves, more can be seen of the fields and across the fields. Even though I am still weak from the hospital experience, I am getting a bit stronger each day. One thing is that I have been drinking more fruit juice as well as my beloved Inka. In fact, this morning was begun with a bowl of instant oatmeal, two cloves of garlic and a large glass of Inka. Today I was thinking of all the people who work in the hospital and especially all those who were working with me, just wondering how they are doing and thinking how great it is that they can offer such excellent and caring service to those who are ill. I especially was thinking about one covid nurse who worked with me in icu, who is interested in and studying the writings of Saint Gregory Palamas. She and I had some excellent talks while she was my acting night nurse. So much for ramblings from the diary and the excellent photographs showing the beautiful day.
05 NOVEMBER, 2020. Although I am housebound due to self-isolation, that doesn’t mean doing nothing. For one thing, there were many phone calls today, from a number of places, and oddly, several of them were requests to speak with Vladika Varlaam. Several others were requests for information on services and if or when these would be held. I was also pleased to receive a call from the Fraser Valley Health unit; they were doing a check up and said they would call once a week. They are also going to check their computer system to find the results of my last covid test since I’ve not yet heard the results.
01 NOVEMBER, 2020.
Today was a rather quiet Sunday since I am on voluntary isolation. A number of people sent hand soap and other cleaning fluids which I sorely needed. A basket of fresh vegetables came in the afternoon and I plan to attempt making a salad or just eating the vegetables raw.It does feel a bit strange to be back at the monastery. Even though I was not away that long, the daily hospital routine and therapies seem to have drilled their way into my head and now I am having to readjust all over again.The new medications are taking some getting used to so hope this adjustment doesn’t last long.I will try to write a daily diary though don’t know how interesting it will be. Any way, that is all for now.
31 October, 2020
As you may have heard, I was hospitalized in Abbotsford on 10 October where it was necessary to undergo some rather daunting therapies. I was immediately admitted into the Intensive Care Unit where respiratory therapy and physiotherapy as well as a number of drug therapies were begun. I have to say that the most difficult was the respiratory therapy which was most uncomfortable and unpleasant for the first 4 days. After this, my body seemed to ease into the process and it became easier. The staff I have to say were wonderful. They tried to make me feel as “at home” as possible and did all they could to make me comfortable, in an uncomfortable situation.Upon completion of the therapy, I was then moved to the covid ward which has both positive and negative patients. This is an isolation ward so I was put into a room with two doors which sealed the room from outside influence. Thankfully, my room had an outside window so that I could view the parking lot and little park which had a number of birds in residence. Since I was a positive patient, I could only be served by covid doctors or nurses or nursing assistants. This emphasized the isolation aspect of the experience but I slowly adjusted to it. Again, the staff were wonderful and tried to make me as comfortable as possible within the limits of what was allowed.Yesterday, Andy came to Abbotsford to collect me and stop on the way to pick up a few other medications (I was not allowed to go into the store because I am on self-isolation). Now I am back at the monastery and attempting to rest and recover because I am still physically a bit weak. I did want to thank everyone for their prayers and let them know that even though I had to do it in an abbreviated version, on Saturdays, I did recite the Pannikhida, which I do every Saturday and on Sunday I recited the Moleben to the best of my ability since I was having to deal with the therapy and trying to get better. Any way, we all remembered one another and this is great to know.That is all for now so I shall sign off.
Daily Diary for 5 October, 2020
Another peaceful day has come to a close. It began as usual, with the reading of the memorial prayers, then the reading of a Moleben. Next, I checked my emails and received a note from my nephew to inform me that another family member had died (most of my family live in Missouri and California). Next, it was necessary to call the pharmacy to check whether or not my new prescription was ready to collect. Andy and I drove into town and the pharmacy had everything already to go so all that I had to do was show my i.d., then collect the bag with the prescription. I appreciate the simplicity and ease of the process.
Daily Diary for 4 October, 2020
Once again, a busy Sunday, And one that was a little more difficult. Because of illness, Father Markel, the altar servers and most of the readers were unable to attend. Vladika Lazar was left to serve alone, which was very difficult for him.. Since we had a number of key servers unable to attend , it was necessary to make a few adjustments to the service. Following the reading of the Hours, the Liturgy began and went smoothly, with a good number of people in attendance. Fortunately, Sasha was here and also Andrei and a bit late in the service they arrived and began to help Archbishop Lazar during the Liturgy.I had to give holy Communion because Vladika Lazar is physically unable to do that. Irenee (Brad) Jersak and Fr Moses were the chanters for the Liturgy and the memorial which followed, which the Archbishop was able to serve..After the completion of a full Pannikhida, there was a reception in the big hall, where there was a lot of room for people to eat, relax and simply be together, while observing restrictions on social gatherings.