written by Father Moses
22 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Another cloudy and cool but not cold day, here at the monastery. All the visitors have gone so now there is a bit of time to relax and settle into the regular routine. As always, that means the daily Moleben and the reading of the 40 day prayers for the reposed. Now I am also in the process of sending feastday greetings which also takes a good deal of time but helps to keep people feeling that they are connected to the monastery, even if they are far away. This evening is the first broadcast of Fr Mircea’s educational class for the parishioners and others who are interested in learning more about their Orthodox Faith soooo, I am hoping and encouraging people to take advantage of the opportunity.
21 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Once again it is time to celebrate another great feast day of the Church, which reminds ourselves that we are in service to God and to one another. The Liturgy was in several languages but Matushka Raissa was here to help with the languages I can’t understand. Natasha also was here to help with the chanting and was very much appreciated. At the completion of the Liturgy, and the reading of “prayers after Communion”, we then sang the “Many Years” for Sergei and Anna, whose wedding anniversary it is; sorry that I didn’t understand the number of years. We then had a lunch in the little hall with Natasha making open face sandwiches of sour black currant jam which was quite sour, even though she had sweetened it a bit. The coffee was also exceptionally tasty today and went well with the jam. After eating was completed, people began various clean up tasks. There was vacuuming of the carpets, Matushka cleaned the top of both ranges with a special glass cleaner before she washed the dishes, Natasha cleaned the kitchen, David replaced the icons on the icon corner in the little hall, before going out to the field to work with Andy. Then a Russian man and his daughter arrived for a visit. They had attended the Liturgy at the Saint Michael Serbian Orthodox Church before coming to the monastery. They brought a lovely gift of a traditional and proper icon of St Pafnuty of Borovsk, whose monastery they had visited in Russia. We had a nice talk about icons and I mentioned that icons of St Pafnuty are not easy to find here in N.America so that this icon is a little treasure. They toured both the small and big church and venerated the relics, then bade farewell to all before going to visit Archbishop Lazar. That is pretty much how the day went and it was an excellent way to honour the Theotokos.
20 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Today was another cool and wet day. Being the eve of the feast of the birth of the Theotokos, we had the Vesper service in the afternoon. Fr Andrei had been here working but had not brought his vestments and was hoping to attend Vespers with us. Archbishop Lazar found a set of Deacon vestments for him so he was able to serve the Vesper service with Archbishop Lazar and myself. We also searched the library and found a Russian language Bible as well as an English language Bible, so that he might have them for reading practice. The service went well and was a pleasant way to call and end to the day
19 SEPTEMBER, 2021 A glorious Sunday began with the usual reading of Matins in the big church. This was followed by the Liturgy with the new Deacon, Fr Andrei, serving with Archbishop Lazar and Father Mircea. It was nice to have a more complete service with deacon, priest and hierarch all doing various parts of the service. Another welcome aspect of the service was the help in chanting by our Readers Sorin, Georgeta, Natasha and Radu. The service went well, though it was obvious that it was a bit of a struggle for Fr Andrei with some of the tongue-twisting English words. Even so, he did a valiant job and we all look forward to him serving with us.
17 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Today we remember the Prophet Moses from the Old Testament. Again, it was a fairly quiet day at the monastery. Andy and I went into town so that I could collect a couple of books that had been requested, at the public library. Then we were able to visit the store where I bought black pepper and was looking for white pepper, which I could not find. After looking around the store, I found some nice fresh radishes which are always a delight. We then went to one of the places Vladika Varlaam and I loved to visit: Burger King, where they have fish sandwiches and some of the best coffee in the Fraser Valley. In the evening, I was in the middle of typing a note to David when the electricity went off. It didn’t return until very late, in fact, I am writing this diary entry on Saturday, even though it is for Friday, because the electricity only returned around 9:30 on Saturday morning and I was trying to catch up with myself.
15 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Today was sunny and warm but not hot. It feels like the Summer season has left us and Fall has safely arrived. The cooler temperatures are welcomed by all of us. When I was in the big church, trimming the lampada wick and adding more oil, my phone rang and it was Archbishop Lazar informing me that we had visitors. They had parked in the parking lot and were roaming around the monastery, looking for Archbishop Lazar, so my job was to find them and direct them to him. When we finally met, they were in the big hall, looking rather lost. I pointed them to the Archishop’s living quarters and so they all left as a group.
14 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Today is the Church New Year. I read a Moleben for the occasion and then sat down to continue proofreading. I heard a bit of rustling down stairs but didn’t think anything of it since there was a little wind. Then I heard louder rustling and voices so thought it might be a good idea to check things out. With my trusty (and strong) walking stick, I hobbled down the stairs and found that Ron Dart and Reader Iriney were rifling through various books. They said hello to me and then continued looking through the bookshelves from which they took various books and then left. It did rain here and was mostly overcast so the temperature was good and the outdoor plants which had begun to die, were once again able to get the needed moisture for survival. That is a good beginning for the New Year and let us hope that that is a sign of more positive things to come.
12 SEPTEMBER, 2021 A lot of interesting things happened this fine Sunday at the monastery. As is usual for a Sunday, the day began with the service of Matins in the big church. While we were having the service, mostly in English, there was a service in the Georgian language, in the small church. Following our Matin service, we then began the Liturgy, which was followed by the Akathist to the Theotokos, “Joy of Canada”. At the same time, in the Georgian service, the Liturgy was being served by the Bishop Sava and Father Thomas, and the ordination to the diaconate of our friend Andrei, was taking place. Following the Akathist, we then had a Pannikhida which was a bit confused but we managed to get through it. Then, it was time for lunch in the big hall. The Georgian people had an inauguration of sorts for their new pavilion which was just completed early on Sunday morning and in time for the gathering of those attending the Liturgy. It was plain to see that they very much appreciated and enjoyed the new structure and the protection it provides from bad weather. The celebration and gathering of all the faithful, made for a wonderful and complete monastery Sunday.
11 SEPTEMBER, 2021 What a busy day it was today at the monastery. We celebrated the feast day of the Beheading of St John the Baptist, with Matins and the Liturgy, in the big church. Archbishop Lazar, Bishop Sava and Father Thomas of the Georgian Orthodox Church, and Father Mircea, served the Liturgy for the feast day. Sorin, Georgeta and myself, acted as the chanters. It was a little confusing for me, because there was used in the service; Georgian, Romanian, Slavonic and Serbian, as well as English and, to be honest, I had a difficult time following it. Thankfully Sorin and Georgeta had things written down so were more able to follow what was going on. With the Beheading of St John being a strict fast day, it was amazing what was awaiting us in the church hall. There were a number of Georgian lenten dishes, including one of my favourites, spinach with crushed walnuts. Also available were the pita breads stuffed with mashed beans and garlic which is a delight and difficult to say no to. Another welcome site was the choice of fresh fruit (nectarines and peaches) as well as beautiful, red and plump radishes and juicy, green cucumbers. Later in the day, we served Vespers in the big church which reminded me that we still could use oil which is for the lampada that burns before the Joy of Canada icon. I must mention that it is best to buy only canola oil because it burns with a bright and clean flame and doesn’t congeal the way olive oil or corn oil do. With the end of Vespers came the end of the day and a chance to rest and prepare for the Matins and Liturgy tomorrow
10 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Today has been a bit of a busy day, preparing for the feast day of St John the Baptist. Work was completed on the rooms for our visitors to stay; Bishop Sava and Father Thomas and his family. Once again, Andrei was here with his family, continuing working on the areas for the visitors. I managed to read a Pannikhida for Stavroula’s mother who just recently reposed and shall be buried tomorrow in the Georgian Monastery of St Nina, which is in Maryland in the U.S. Then I washed some of my hats in a little tub that I keep for that purpose, and now these hats are on the line on the balcony, drying. The sun was out and it was warm, then the clouds came up and covered the sun, but it was still rather warm. As I write this diary entry, the sky is completely clouded, and it is still warm. Vespers for the feast was read quietly and tomorrow shall be the Liturgy, which I believe is going to be served by both Archbishop Lazar, Father Mircea, and Father Thomas. After completing this diary entry, I need to go over to the hall and prepare the coffee for tomorrow since it has not yet been done. The problem is that we have no idea how many people will be attending the Liturgy, nor how many people will stay following the service. Well, tomorrow we shall see.
9 SEPTEMBER, 2021 This day is another hot and sunny day at the monastery. I received a surprise visit from Kirill who seems to be on his way to another camp-out in the mountains. Any way, we had tea and a chat and now he is washing some of my clothes. I am in the process of making “muzhde” which is basically ground garlic, in paste form. I had bought a mesh bag of garlic so then had to break apart the cloves, peel the outside paper thin skin off, then remove the base where the cloves were joined together. Now the cloves were bare and peeled and ready to be put into the blender, with a touch of olive oil. I don’t use water or salt when I make it. The hardest part is to find a jar in which to keep the muzhde, since plastic is not suitable. The muzhde is used in the place of salt and also can be mixed with salad dressings to make them healthier. The garlic is ground in a blender (or by hand) with a little water added, some people also add a bit of oil and a touch of salt. The garlic is then kept in a cool place (or in the fridge) and will turn green, which most N.Americans think means that it is spoiled. It is only good once it has turned green and is also quite potent and smells a touch unpleasant. I love mixing it with salad and try to take a spoonful each day, though it is too strong to take just in a spoon; I spread it on bread, with peanut butter. Since today is Thursday, the N.A. people are meeting in the parking lot, with their circle of chairs set up. Toward evening, it begins to cool a bit so their meeting should be pleasant.
8 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Although this is a fairly quiet day at the monastery, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. A Russian lady was here and made some delicious vinaigrette which I am going to go over to snack on, when fixing the lampada. Speaking of the lampada, we had run out of oil and I brought my little bottle over to fill the lamp which burns in front of the “Joy of Canada” icon. My bottle was empty and Sorin and Georgeta bought a large bottle, as well as the small tea lights which we also had run out of while they were away in Germany. Now that Naiana is not here, other people would do well to help keep an eye on the oil and tea lights so that everyone can share in buying these for the church. I am reading an English-language translation of some of the works of Vladimir Lossky and finding these to be extremely helpful in understanding some Othodox beliefs and understandings which I had not understood before. I encourage others to continue educating themselves in the Orthodox Faith because our understandings are sadly inadequate. No matter how educated a person is, there is always more to learn and anyone who says or believes that they know it all, just proves that they don’t.
7 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Today we remembered the Apostle Titus who was born into a pagan Cretan family but converted to belief in Christ and eventually became a bishop for many years. He was known as a great worker of wonders and has long been respected and venerated by the Orthodox Church. Leaving St Titus, we then return to the monastery here in Dewdney. Today Andy and I went to Langley where he needed to buy some mechanical parts, I believe these were for one of the automobiles. Any way, we went to the store and while Andy was inside, I decided to take my little camera and get some photos of the various textures and colours of the area. We were parked just next to a large concrete overpass so the area past the parking lot had a high fence to prevent trespassing. Interestingly, a lot of plants had taken over the area: blackberries, tansy, wild roses and a small daisy as well as horsetails. The blackberry plants were loaded with plump berries in a deep purple; the wild roses had bright orange rosehips and the tansy were a strong and bright yellow so all these made an attractive group of varying textures and colours. Before we left, Andy had to hoist his purchase from a cart and I couldn’t resist getting a photo of his effrort to lift such a heavy object. I did my part to help, by returning the cart to the store. We also stopped at a local Tim Horton’s and I got several photos of what seems to be a bus stop, just on the sidewalk outside. It is a beautifully made wood and concrete structure and was placed on a concrete slab. There were several benches and one section of this structure, has a lattice onto which roses will be clinging, once these have matured. You might say that this construction has created a “mini-park”.
6 SEPTEMBER, 2021 This Monday happens to be the day to celebrate St Kosmas of Aitolia. Many people are not aware that he preached in Southern Albania and also in parts of the Greek islands. The men were back and working on the building since Monday is an official holiday. Even though it was hot and sunny, Fr Mircea, Sorin and Radu, worked to finish attaching the heavy siding to the outer walls of the main building. They had already rebuilt the wall, added new insulation and framing and now had the siding to attach. Andy and Fr Mircea were in the front and looking at the drainage pipes and checking what was the best way to deal with the problem of removing water from the base of the buildings, which is the cause of so many problems. Andrei was here with his family and they were busy working downstairs and Matushka Raissa was in the kitchen and keeping an eye on Radu’s 2 boys. Later in the evening, Matushka had prepared a welcome dinner so we all sat in the kitchen and ate while also drinking coffee and chatting.
5 SEPTEMBER, 2021 What a day this day has been. We began with Matins, which went well. We then celebrated the Liturgy for the “leave taking of the feast of the Dormition”. The chanters made a few slight mistakes but basically the Liturgy went well. At first it looked like there were only going to be 3 people attending but then at the reading of the Holy Gospel, a crowd of people appeared and were in the church until the ending of the service. We also had a small Pannikhida which went maybe better than any we have ever done. After all this was completed, we then had a wonderful and nutritious lunch in the big hall. As always, it was a joy to see everyone there and to spend time together eating, chatting and exchanging ideas. I did manage to get some excellent photos of the work that is currently being done at the monastery: the whole rebuilding of the outside wall of the main building and the repairing of the ceiling in the guestroom which is next to the kitchen.
4 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Today is overcast and cool and it is very busy at the monastery. As I look out my window, I see that Fr Mircea’s van, Sorin’s car and two others are parked outside. I am curious to know what is going on but don’t want to go over to check because usually I just get in the way. Around the time for Vespers, I will go over to set up for Vespers and also take my phone so that if there are any changes in the guest room, then these can be photographed. I noticed yesterday that the room had been cleaned very well so was guessing that this meant work was going to be done on it. I have managed to connect with a number of people so that it is now possible to send them photos through the use of my phone. It is always nice to send email notes to people but often a photograph says a lot more than words and often is appreciated more. Well, I just returned from Vespers and was surprised that we had a number of people attending the service. Our friend Lyuda, whom I haven’t seen for 3 years, was here with her friend Evgeny, from Calgary. They were driving through and wanted to stop to visit the monastery. We had a good and long talk and then we all sat down for tea and a nice meal which Margarita had prepared. Everyone enjoyed both the food and the conversation and before long, it was time to bid farewell to everyone.
3 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Last night I was up most of the night because I kept hearing what sounded like someone walking around in the room and lightly touching things. Finally I got up, turned on the light and found that there were 2 bats in the room. I am not afraid of bats and realize that in spite of their undeserved reputation for being dangerous, they are quite gentle creatures and important in the fight to reduce the mosquito and fly populations. For this reason, I always treat them with respect and try to convince other people to do the same. Any way, I opened the window and one bat flew out but the other kept flying around in circles. I got it to go out onto the balcony, then opened the door leading to the outside, hoping that it would find the way out. Then later in the day, there was a call on my phone from Margarita who was cleaning the church and wanted to know the appropriate way to clean the icons. After finally checking my phone, I went to the church but could not find anyone. It turns out that she was outside, getting some things from her car so I walked over to speak with her about the icons. Sasha was there so he interpreted what I was saying, which was a great help. Following this, I took a walk around the monastery and got some new and interesting photos. After all this, I then was able to complete the proofreading of Archbishop Lazar’s new book and take it to him so that he could make the postings and finish preparing the book for printing.
2 SEPTEMBER, 2021 Today was a pretty full day with a lot of activities taking place. As usual, the day began with simple prayers and then the reading of the daily Moleben names. Then I sat down with a glass of hot Inka and did a bit more proofreading. Then Andy called and asked if I would like to accompany him into town because he was going to refill our water containers. I didn’t know how this was done so gladly went along to view the process. We first stopped off at Tim Horton where Andy got tea that smelled really good, but I had coffee because I think their coffee and Burger King Coffee are both super delicious. Any way, following this, we journeyed on to the Canadian Tire Store where the water dispensers are located, to refill our water containers. This was done at a machine which is a bit like a coffee dispenser, except that it dispenses purified water. After this, we went shopping because I needed some cooking oil and a few other things. There was hardly anyone in the store so after finding my things, there was no wait to get them checked out at the cashier. After that, we returned to the monastery where I did a little reading, then returned to proofreading. The N.A. people were here for their weekly meeting and again the parking lot was crowded
1 SEPTEMBER, 2021 This day was another quiet day at the monastery. After the usual reading of the Moleben and names, I sat down at my little table to continue proofreading the book which Archbishop Lazar is working on. There was also time to check emails, and it was gratifying to see that my nephew had sent a note as well as Ovidiu and Naiana from Romania; before I forget, they asked me to give a big greeting to everyone, from them, soooo, “Hello from Romania”. With the weather being more moderate, it was possible to take a short walk and look at some of the amazing plant life which is here at the monastery. There are a number of beautiful flowering plants and myriads of greens to soothe the eye. Although I have lived here now for many, many years, and spent the majority of my time on the monastery grounds, I still find the environment to be both interesting and beautiful and never get tired of simply being part of it.
31 AUGUST, 2021 This is the last day of the month and even though it is warm, the weather is now beginning to feel more like the Fall season. All the leaves are still green and haven’t fallen from the trees but the air is cooler and here at the monastery we have gentle breezes blowing. I now have some new pages to proofread and have been doing some more experimenting with my little phone/camera. Recently I learned how to send photos over the phone which I had thought was limited to those listed as “contacts” but, from experimenting, have sent photos to people with whom I share emails. This was quite exciting and allowed me to send photos of the monastery to one of my sisters who has long enjoyed email communication but, due to several strokes, is now unable to type on her computer. She has long been interested in Orthodox Christianity and so loves the photos of icons and of various services, and people, that I’ve taken photos of and forwarded to her.
30 AUGUST, 2021 Today is the commemoration of St Alipy the Iconographer, who is the first Slavic iconographer. He learned iconography from iconographers from Constantinople and one of his original icons still exists and is presently exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Since I am trying to create proper icons, St Alipy is someone I very much respect and venerate because the creation of a true and canonical icon is a difficult job and he is an excellent example to follow.
29 AUGUST, 2021 Today is the remembrance of the icon (Not Made By Hands), which is now a well known icon. It is also the last Sunday of the month, so that means the Liturgy was in Church Slavonic. There were a few less people than I had expected but still a good number at the Liturgy. Many of those attending didn’t come in until after the reading of the Apostol and a number of those attending, disappeared even before the “prayers after Communion” were read. Following the Liturgy, we had a Pannikhida, in English, which went well but was sparsely attended. We did have lunch in the church hall, rather than in the kitchen and there was some excellent food. One interesting dish was spaghetti with black beans which was quite nice. Another dish, which I have no idea of the name, was made with eggs, large chunkis of potato, carrots and dried tomato and green beans. It was baked like a cake so was a bit fluffy and delicious. Someone had brought a cheesecake (one of my weaknesses) which was in the shape of a wheel and containing several kinds of cheesecake. Usually I don’t get to the table in time to get a piece when there is cheesecake but today I managed to get a slice which I put on my plate along with regular food, to ensure that I got a piece this time. There was also a rice dish which I mistook for refried beans and rice. I took a large spoonful but when I got to the table and sat down, I could see that it was actually rice with ground beef. Since I don’t eat meat, I traded my rice for Kirill’s spaghetti and black beans so we were both happy and well fed.
28 AUGUST, 2021 Today was the feastday of the Dormition of the Mother of God, which is one of the main feastday celebrations in the Orthodox Church. We began with Matins, though once again I was late. I had gotten up at 7 in the morning so that I could be in the church at 8 but somehow I fell asleep without realizing it and when I was startled awake, it was 9 already. As a result, I had to hurry around and get ready to leave and arrived in the church only 15 minutes before the Liturgy began. At least I was able to help chant a short section of the Matin service which was actually readings from the Psalter. The Liturgy went well, again because we had the service material already laid out. It also was good that there were a number of servers in the altar, besides Archbishop Lazar and Father Mircea. Andrei was serving in his beautiful Georgian vestments, and Igor was serving, with his small son who seems to be learning how to serve in the altar. There were quite a few people attending the service, again at least half of them were Georgians with their oodles of children. Following the Liturgy, we then had a nice luncheon in the kitchen, along with interesting conversation. After a short nap, it was then time for the evening Vesper service. A number of people had come for it so we had an interesting service, in English. Olga volunteered to help me so I asked her to stand with me at the chanter stand, which she kindly did and supported me during the service. Again, following the Vesper service, we had a nice dinner in the kitchen, which included a wonderful salad and a home made apple and peach pirog. There was the usual tea and a colourful (and tasty) platter of two types of oranges, peeled and sliced, which themselves made an excellent dessert.
27 AUGUST, 2021 Today was a pretty quiet day at the monastery with Andy cutting down a large tree and then cutting it up into pieces. This was the tree that stood near the Holy Well, so the icon had to first be removed from the tree before it was cut down. Now there is the main trunk and a number of round section also lying around so that it looks like the remains of an old temple, with the columns lying on the ground in sections. I’m not sure what is going to be done with the tree but heard that it might be cut up into really nice lumber for later use, possibly in constructing a large cross on the monastery grounds. At 5 in the evening Archbishop Lazar and Fr Moses read Vespers, which went well since we had all the service printed in one book.
26 AUGUST, 2021 Today is the day of St Maximus the Confessor, on the church calendar. He is another one of my favourite saints because he became an important person in the Byzantine court in Constantinople but gave it all up to become a monk. During the earlier part of his life, he studied the works of many philosophers and famous thinkers of the day, so had an excellent education, which he used later in life for the service of the Orthodox Church. After reading a brief service to him, I returned to the proofreading which is sometimes slow going. I don’t just go over material once, but rather check and recheck, in order to make sure that no mistakes are missed. I also don’t want to make changes that will change the meaning of what has been written, and this is another good reason for going over the material more than one time. In the evening, there was a kind of drizzling rain so I didn’t think the N.A. people would meet. To my surprise, I looked out the window and cars were beginning to arrive in the parking lot where the meeting was held, as usual.
25 AUGUST, 2021 Once again, it was overcast and cool but only a bit of light rain during the day. As usual, I went to the church to check the lampada and was not too pleased to see that there is another larger burned spot on the frame of the “Joy of Canada” icon. Hmm. I must remember to mention this to Andy so that he can check it out. After fixing the lampada, I returned to my little table where the proofreading is being done. Already 2/3 of the proofreading has been completed so that this section can be given to Archbishop Lazar and he can prepare this section for printing.
24 AUGUST, 2021 Today has been overcast and cooler, though still no rain. Surprisingly, there are some plants that are thriving in this dry weather. For example, I look out my window and see the planter box with the tomato plants and they are full of fruit so well worth keeping an eye on. The blackberry plants are full of plump and sweet berries and the tansy has done exceptionally well this year with lots of heavy leaves that should make an excellent tea, even when dried.
23 AUGUST, 2021 Today was a pretty “laid back” kind of day. Mostly I sat at my little table, in front of the big window which lets in a lot of natural light, and continued with proofreading. Proofreading is a bit hard on the eyes, so every so often, I have to stop and do something else, then return to proofreading. Today I also made a delicious salad, again made with shredded cabbage, finely chopped onions, trail mix, and a wonderful salad dressing. Yesterday someone brought a welcome gift of three kinds of salad dressings and the one I am using at this time is “black garlic vinaigrette”, which is delicious. I didn’t know there was such a thing as black garlic but it certainly is wonderful in dressing. I am fond of many different kinds of salad dressings so it was a nice surprise to receive these three large bottles an I intend to try each one.
22 AUGUST, 2021 Today has proved to be another long and rather tiring Sunday which began with the reading and chanting of Matins. The Liturgy was then celebrated with a respectable group of children and adults awaiting the receiving of Holy Communion. After the completion of the prayers after Communion, there was then served a Pannikhida for a number of newly departed, some of whom I knew and some I didn’t know. This service went well and again those attending were pleased to have their loved ones remembered and prayed for. With the final blessing, Fr Mircea then invited those in attendance to have tea in the hall. Once again, the luncheon was enjoyed, along with lively conversation at various tables and covering a variety of subjects; it’s nice to see that the parish is still alive and thriving.
19 AUGUST, 2021 This day is the celebration of the feast day of the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor. I didn’t sleep well last night and fell asleep in the early morning, which caused me to be late for church this morning. Surprisingly, when entering the church, I found Archbishop Lazar reading the Hours, which is what I was supposed to be doing. Any way, after I lit the candles and lamps, he went into the altar and I took over the reading. My voice was quite raspy so it was a bit difficult to do the reading. In spite of the difficulty, the reading was completed and the Liturgy began with a good number of people attending; there was only one male attending the service and the others were women and children, and it was gratifying to see more than a dozen children there. I believe that everyone received Holy Communion and we also then had the blessing of fruit for the traditional remembrance of the feast. Following the blessing, we were dismissed and had a small but pleasant luncheon in the kitchen, though only a few people stayed for this. In the later evening, the N.A. people had a rather good size meeting in the monastery parking lot. They had set up a circle of chairs and every one of them was occupied.
18 AUGUST, 2021 The big news for the diary today is simply that we read Vespers for the feast. Even though we didn’t have the blessing of loaves and all the elaborate additions, (Since Vladika Lazar is not physically able to serve these) we did read all the prayers, including the Old Testament readings and the Lity prayers, so people can be assured that the feast day Vesper service was read. Since we are still in the midst of the Dormition Fast, I made a simple meal following Vespers: fried multigrain tortillas with peanut butter, and washed down with a large glass of Inka.
17 AUGUST, 2021 Once again, the temperature was milder here at the monastery and this made it easier to go next door and begin getting things ready for the upcoming feast of the Transfiguration. First on the list was finding a proper icon of the feastday and this meant going upstairs to the old church and rummaging through the back room where the icons are resting on various shelves. Thankfully I found a proper icon which is now resting in the church and waiting to be placed on a stand in the church. At the same time, the lampada was refilled and the wick trimmed. While in the area, I also made sure that we have the proper icon stand (we do) because I hope to decorate the icon before Vespers. After these little tasks were completed, I made sure that the large coffee maker was emptied and cleaned and then I returned to my seat by the window where once again I took up my red pen and continued with the proofreading project.
16 AUGUST Today was a much more bearable day at the monastery, due to the overcast skies and even a bit of rain that helped clear away some of the smoke and lower the temperature. This was a welcome change but, unfortunately, was only for today. Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to return to hot and sunny and now that it has rained, it will also be humid. With today’s weather being a bit milder, Andy and I went into town, accompanied by 9 and 5.
15 AUGUST, 2021 This day at the monastery was again a bit smoggy and hot, but a bit cooler, though I have to confess that I could barely feel the difference between yesterday and today. On the church calendar, Saint Basil of Moscow who has long been one of my favourite saints, was commemorated. He practiced a form of piety which is often not understood and also often mocked by people who don’t understand it: the “Fool for Christ”. This kind of piety can be a bit tricky and even in the Orthodox Church, has not proved to be very much practiced. My reason for having so much respect for the “fools” is that they care more about the love of God than anything else. Even when it is not comfortable or easy, they still serve God and are examples to us in their own way. To be honest, I don’t think that I would be brave enough to practice this kind of piety but I am thankful that there have been holy ones who have been. On a more worldly level, we did have the Liturgy which was followed by a Pannikhida and then a big and rather amazing lunch in the big hall. There were some amazing salads, and I especially wanted to mention one that I mistook for boiled varenniki; it was cabbage in oil with herbs and was a kind of yellow colour so looked like boiled and baked dough. What a pleasant surprise it turned out to be.
14 AUGUST, 2021 Today was an interesting day at the monastery. Still, it is hot and smoggy, but it doesn’t change anything by complaining. On that note, I’ll concentrate on more positive things. At this time, I am doing proofreading but my special red ink pen ran out of ink so now I am forced to use a red pencil for it. The pencil is fine but the pen is better because, with a finer line, it is possible to make marginal notes which are more precise and even a bit neater. I did stay indoors, again most of the day, but did have to go to the church at 17.00 to read Vespers in a very hot and uncomfortable church. There is some kind of fan but it didn’t really help much and by the end of the service, I was drenched. Margarita came for Vespers and brought a delicious borsch which we ate in the kitchen, following the Vesper service which was dedicated to the “Procession of the Honourable Cross”.
13 AUGUST, 2021 This day is the remembrance of St Joseph of Arimathea. His memory is important because it points out the fact that we can be an important member of society and still be a pious person and have a deep love for Christ. Even though Saint Joseph was an important member of the Jewish Council, he managed to ask for the Body of Christ after it was removed from the Cross, and then had it properly prepared for burial and placed in a new tomb, which was believed to have been his own. We will not prepare an actual tomb for the body of Christ but we can all struggle to love him and once a year we are able to prepare the icon and tomb for Christ, during the day of Holy Friday. On a more contemporary note, it was once again hot and smoggy here at the monastery. I received a new project from Archbishop Lazar and that is the proofreading and making corrections on a new book, titled, “Systematic Prayer and Inner Transformation”. With the bad weather, it will be easy to remain indoors and proofread at my little table in front of the window.
12 AUGUST, 2021 Today is the remembrance of Saint Angelina of Serbia, which caused me to think of a dear friend of ours who used to live in the U.S., Angie. She is no longer living but thinking of her is a reminder of how fragile and short life can be. She was a tough but also very kind and thoughtful woman, pious, and seemed (to me) like the kind of person who would live on and on. We had many interesting talks about her family, the Serbian Orthodox Church and various people we all knew. It has been many years now since she has passed away but I still often think of her and the joys of spending time together, eating, talking, listening to one another. Returning to the present, today the N.A. people met again in the parking lot of the monastery, in spite of the heat and heavy smog. I stayed indoors because the intense heat is extremely uncomfortable and I actually feel
11 AUGUST, 2021 Well, another hot day has arrived at the monastery. Thankfully, we have a little breeze which helps to “soften the blow”, just a bit. The big news of the day is that I heard a lot of noise outside, sounds of what seemed like sawing and weed whackers. Although it was uncomfortably hot, I put on shoes and went outside to investigate. There were a number of people working on the grounds and I got a photo of one of their trucks just as they were getting ready to leave. They had trimmed the tree which is growing beneath the electricity transformer, as well as a number of other plants. After photographing their truck, I then got an excellent photo of the Georgian “palatka” which appears now to be nearly completed with the new shingled roof, latticework on the sides and nicely constructed steps from the ground and up to the now completed floor. It is beautifully constructed and a pleasant addition to the monastery grounds.
10 AUGUST, 2021 Today we remember Saint Irene (Chrysovalantou). Originally I had planned to go into town but the heat was so intense that plans had to be changed. I checked my thermometer and the temperature was 35 o, so not the kind of heat to be ignoring. It worked out well any way because I spent a good amount of time on the phone. Several people were calling to enquire about baptisms, so had to be referred to Father Mircea. Other people (3 in fact) were calling to ask about Sunday services and if we were now offering Holy Communion. It was good to see that interest is still strong and hope it continues in this way.
9 AUGUST, 2021 Monday is usually a day to take things easy and recover from the long and exhausting Sunday of services and socializing with parishioners and visitors. Many people might think that this doesn’t require any expenditure of energy but they would be incorrect, at least in my case. By the end of the day, I am quite exhausted and have no trouble falling asleep. I was awakened this morning by a phone call from a woman making enquiries concerning attending Sunday Liturgy, then another phone call from a Romanian lady asking about baptizing her child, to which I gave her the number of our Father Mircea so that she could speak with him and make whatever arrangements were appropriate. Then, Chris called and wanted to come for a visit which meant that I had to go next door to the kitchen, which was fine but changed my plans for the day. He arrived with his mother, we had tea and a long talk and then he left and Andy came to the kitchen. I was glad to see Andy because I had to give him a computer card which someone had given to me on Sunday. This little card has filed copies of the Sunday sermons that you see being filmed, after the Gospel reading, during the Liturgy, and a few sermons which are given after the Liturgy. After spending some time talking with Andy, it was possible to return to my place and varnish some colour icon prints that I was redoing for some people who had requested images of their saints.
8 AUGUST, 2021 Today was a long and exhausting day at the monastery. Thankfully, it did drizzle and was cloudy, which reduced the heat considerably. We began the day with Matins, then the Liturgy which was well attended. Following the Liturgy, we had a short Pannikhida with the blessing of various bread and sweets. There was then a meal in the large hall which included not only the bread and sweets from the memorial, but also the luncheon that some of the ladies had prepared with baked fish and salad. There was good conversation as well as the food and a specially created compote which included the juice of hawthorne berries as well as blueberries and apples and one other ingredient that I was not able to find out. No sugar was added to the compote so that it was super healthy but also sweet enough for the most discerning tastebuds.
7 AUGUST, 2021 This has proved to be a very busy Saturday. We had a baptism today of a little girl, named Eva, but I was confused because I heard someone also mention the name of Sophia. Quite a number of people attended the baptismal service which was entirely in Slavonic, so thankfully Matushka was here to help me with the chanting. She used the Slavonic Trebnik to follow the service while I used the English language version of the same service because my Slavonic is not very good. After the baptism, the family did not stay, though they did spend a bit of time talking with Fr Mircea and also left a basket with a large, home made bread, decorated with pastry flowers and lots of Russian candies. After everyone left, I was planning to take a break and managed to do so until Andy and Kirill came upstairs, moving my new desk out of the rain and weather. Then, even later, Galina and Lija came with Michael, for Vespers and a Pannikhida to be served. Even though it is a bit rainy and cooler, the church was still stifling and I was sweating throughout both Vespers and the Pannikhida. More people came for Vespers and since Fr Mircea was unable to serve today, I served as priest and chanters. This is difficult to do because there are prayers the priest is supposed to read while the chanters are doing their parts of the service. As well since my arthritis is quite bad these days, I can’t do the proper censing so just dispensed with it completely. I managed to read the priest’s prayers and do the chanting but this was all I could handle. For the .Pannikhida, I also did the chanting but ignored the responses that the people are supposed to give. For the censings, these were not done and at the end I used the Cross instead of the censer and then blessed the fruit and the people with holy water. Hopefully this was adequate. We then adjourned to the kitchen where a delicious and nutritious memorial meal had been prepared. It was a wonderful way to close the day in preparation for the Sunday Matins/Liturgy
6 AUGUST, 2021 Today is another warm and humid day, though cooler than many other days. As usual, I stayed inside and worked on a few projects, including the usual reading of a daily Moleben. After the obligatory works were completed, then I returned to sorting and filing more paperwork. Occasionally it was necessary to stop because my back was hurting due to bending and shuffling through stacks of papers.
5 AUGUST, 2021 Today has proved to be an interesting day. Luidmila and Marina came to the monastery, though I didn’t leave my little place to visit them. As usual for this week, it was hot and dry so I don’t know how the visitors could tolerate the weather. At this time, I am reading a work by Vladimir Lossky which has been translated into English, from Russian. It is both interesting and enlightening because of his careful and scrupulous explanation of Orthodox Christian concepts and understandings (or what we might call theology). His works are not what are called “easy reading” but are well worth the effort it takes to absorb his words and make them your own. His careful explanation of the difference between the energy and essence of God, was truly amazing and has created a desire to read more of his works. This evening the N.A. people were here again and today the parking lot was totally filled with cars, trucks, a couple of motorcycles and a few vans. As usual, Vladika Lazar participated in the meeting and the people seem to appreciate his participation and interaction with them.
4 AUGUST, 2021 With the serious lack of rain, I am trying to do my part to conserve water. Instead of using the washing machine for laundry, I have a large plastic tub in which I am soaking my clothes, then washing them by hand. The water I have used for washing, is then poured onto the planter boxes (don’t worry, I didn’t use soap because I know it would harm the plants). As is often the case, I am eating lots of salads and avoiding cooking, as much as possible. This is when I am thankful for peanut butter and multi-grain bread.
2 AUGUST, 2021 This day on the civil calendar is B.C.Day, so a public holiday. We had a truck arrive with several pieces of furniture but that was the only interesting event of the day. As often has been the case during this summer, it was super hot and very quiet.
1 AUGUST, 2021 This Sunday, dedicated to the memory of Saint Macrina, began as most Sundays begin, with the serving of Matins. Today is going to be served the Slavonic Liturgy, even though it is the first Sunday of the month. It seems that now that Dima has returned from his sojourn to Russia, we now have someone to read the Slavonic Epistles and also to arrange the services from the Slavonic service books. I am also assuming that we are once again resuming the practice of serving the Slavonic Liturgy on the last Sunday of each month.
31 JULY, 2021 This day of the Holy Martyr Emilianos, has proved to be a busy day here at the monastery. A large group of Coptic people came for the day, from Vancouver. There were several vehicles and they brought large bags and packets of all kinds of food so it was obvious that they planned to spend more than just an hour or so. Then at 12.30, we had a baptism in the big church of a small baby. The baptism was served by Archbishop Lazar and Fr Mircea with Matushka and myself serving as chanters. Following the baptismal service, I had to leave and return to my little place because I was overheating and soaking wet, so quite uncomfortable and starting to get a touch of sore throat. After cooling (and drying) off, I did some painting and drawing when there was a voice calling from downstairs. It was Vigil and Valentina and they had stopped by on the way back home from the store and had brought some jars of Inka for me. As you all know, Inka is one of my favourite drinks and it is not always easy to find, so I was pleased with their gift. In the late afternoon (16.30), the Coptic people had finished using the church so that we were able to serve Vespers. Once again I have to say that the church was uncomfortably hot and by the time Vespers was finished, I was exhausted from the heat and soaking wet again. Even so, Father Mircea, Matushka and I had tea and dinner in the kitchen where the Coptic people had left a large meal for us, nicely covered with a cloth and arranged to be eaten at our leisure. We had also a large container of the delicious Tim Horton Coffee which they had also left for us so we were set for a restful and delicious dinner.
29 JULY, 2021 Today has proved to be another “super summer” day. It is extremely difficult to do anything in this heat, though I hear someone working outside in the heat of the day. Since my Inka is gone, I have been drinking tea and some coffee, though I am getting ready to make a container of what is called “sun tea”. I might have mentioned this before but can’t remember, so will explain it again. Sun tea is made by filling a container, preferably glass, with water, then dropping into it either tea leaves or bags of tea. This is then placed in a sunny place for a day or two and the heat of the sun boils the tea, creating a delicious brew which can then be cooled and enjoyed during hot weather. This sun tea can also be made with any kind of herbs or even flowers, such as roses or carnations. This even works with dried flowers or herbs so hope you are able to try it.
28 JULY, 2021 Today is the remembrance of our Saint Vladimir of Kiev. Orthodox people in many countries and using many different languages, pray to him and have services in his honour, asking him to help us preserve the Orthodox Faith from the multitude of negative influences which are trying to destroy Orthodoxy in many countries around the world. When doing a bit of cleaning, I found a beautiful colour icon print of St Vladimir which I am going to mount on a wooden panel and varnish with my new and wonderful water soluble varnish. Today Andy had to rescue Vladika Lazar again. Vladika set out on his electric scooter to try to prune some shrubbery. Some soft ground collapse beneath one wheel and the scooter flipped over, throwing Vladika to the ground and bouncing up on top of him. Fortunately, he had his cell phone and called Andy to come and pull him out from under the scooter and set it upright again. There were no significant injuries.
26 JULY, 2021 Today is the remembrance of the Martyr Serapion and also a quiet Monday. With all the celebrations of Saturday and Sunday for the passing feast of the “Joy of Canada” and the awful heat, today is proving to be a day of recovery from the stresses of heat and celebration
25 JULY, 2021 This day of the celebration of the “Joy of Canada” began with an outdoor Matin service at the little chapel which is dedicated to the Theotokos. Following Matins, the Liturgy began as the heat of the day gradually increased. The Liturgy went well, though it was often difficult to hear the prayers of the clergy in the outdoor sanctuary. A number of people brought beautiful bouquets of flowers to honour the icon, and a place had been set up for the lighting of candles next to the icon of the Theotokos. Due to the intense heat, the candles were slowly melting and falling over and the breeze that began, kept extinguishing them. Following the Liturgy, a procession with the cross, icons and ripidia, and large icon of the “Joy of Canada”, processed down the road and out into the field where the little permanent shrine to the Theotokos is situated. A Moleben to the Theotokos was served and then the procession returned to the monastery by way of the road leading to the gatehouse. At the gatehouse, people with flower petals in hand, were blessed with holy water as they sprinkled their flower petals onto the icon while passing beneath it and through the gatehouse, returning to the big church for the final blessing. Our little group of singers struggled in the heat, to continue singing the Tropar and Kontak in honour of the Theotokos. Following the end of the service, a delicious and varied luncheon was served in the big church hall where people were free to mingle and enjoy quiet conversations. Following the completion of lunch, a full Akathist service was served in the big church, at the end of which, people adjourned again to the hall for tea, snacks and more quiet conversations. All in all, and in spite of the intense heat, the celebration was a successful and honourable veneration of the “Joy of Canada” icon of the Theotokos.
23 JULY, 2021 The weather is still cooler, though it is also still warm with the temperature at noon being 30o according to my thermometer. I am writing this diary at the computer and sitting with my fan cooling the room to a manageable degree. Our visitor arrived and is now settled in for the time being. I was expecting a really old man but he is young and speaks excellent English. We had the evening Vesper service outdoors again with the nice breeze blowing. Liudmila and Dima are here as well as Mikhail Martynenko, so we had a small group for our outdoor Vesper service. 9 & 5 stopped by to check things out and make sure we were all safe and then went on their way.
22 JULY, 2021 Today is dedicated to the Martyr Pankratios who was only 14 years of age when he was martyred. This is an excellent reminder to all of us that life is unpredictable and can end at any time, so we should strive to be always ready to enter eternity. It is also quite interesting that St Pankratios is popular in Western Europe, especially in Britain where he is also called “St Pancras”. It was mostly quiet at the monastery with the main event being the Thursday meeting of the N.A. people. Vladika Lazar mentioned that there were 37 people at the meeting and that this August will mark the fifth anniversary of our Narcotics Anonymous group, which calls itself “mission possible.” Members of the group have been drug-free for differing lengths of time. One member has been drug-free for 20 years now and will celebrate with a special cake at next week’s meeting. Several of the members began to become drug-free with the first meeting here at the monastery, and have now reached five years clean. They will also be celebrating with a special cake sometime during August. It is very rewarding to have the group here, and Archbishop Lazar always participates in the meeting and very much enjoys the fellowship. The members seem to appreciate him very much.
21 JULY, 2021 Today proved to be a much more pleasant day, speaking of the weather. The temperature had dropped several degrees and there was also a slight breeze which increased in the later afternoon, making it pleasant to sit on the shaded balcony, with a large glass of filtered water. The breeze was much appreciated and the view was spectacular, as always. In the evening, at 17.00, Archbishop Lazar and I served the Vesper service outdoors at the little chapel which is beneath the stairway. As I had mentioned, there was a breeze which made the service so much more pleasant than if we had served in the big church, which is still quite hot.. David and Vanya were here again, picking blueberries and other fruit and also finding the change in weather much more pleasant.
19 JULY, 2021 This Monday has proved to be a calm and relaxed day. The weather is still warm but tolerable, though it is still much better to stay indoors as much as possible. Someone gave to me a large candle which I am lighting before the icon of the Theotokos when reading the daily Moleben. Vladika Lazar suggested that we serve the evening service out the outdoor chapel together. We did not go into the church at all during the extreme heat except to tend to the oil lamps. Perhaps we can serve daily vespers at the outside Theotokos Chapel. It is very difficult for Vladika to come over to the church daily and he usually serves the daily services and is on my computer, as do I.
18 JULY, 2021 This Sunday of commemoration of St Athanasios of Mount Athos and St Sergei of Radonezh, is an excellent reminder that all of us, whether monastics or non-monastics, are responsible for the preservation of our treasured Orthodox Faith. This is not exactly an easy task with so many foreign influences around us, but we continue to struggle to learn more about our Faith as well as to practice it. Having the church being well attended for the Sunday Liturgy was a reassuring sign that many people are still working on themselves and trying to live the Orthodox Faith in their daily lives. Following the end of the Liturgy, we again had a memorial service and then lunch in the church hall.
17 JULY, 2021 Today was the remembrance of St Andrew of Crete who is one of the most loved Orthodox saints. Most Orthodox people are aware of the Canon of St Andrew of Crete which is read during the beginning phase of the Great Lenten period, and which alone should make St Andrew most memorable. This afternoon, we had Vespers at 17.00, which is now going to be the usual time for the Vesper service on Saturdays. Any way, the service was attended by several people, including Lija who just has returned from Spain, Galina Borisovna who came with her, Alexander and Olga Lashkov with their daughter and granddaughter, and Sasha Baraban who also helped serve in the altar and worked the camera. Following Vespers, there was a complete service of blessing for travel which was served by Archbishop Lazar, who then gave a recorded sermon. Following all this, Galina Borisovna, Lija, Sasha and I, met in the new kitchen for tea and slices of fresh watermelon and a bit of discussion. A great way to end the day.
16 JULY, 2021 This has proved to be a cooler day, once again. This is a good thing because the heat was beginning to take a toll and I was starting to feel the effects of it. With this day being cooler, it was possible to do a bit of laundry, return to the collecting and cataloging of past written materials, and also open the new can of varnish and use it on several art works and an icon. It will be interesting to see if our more pleasant weather holds out over the weekend.
15 JULY, 2021 Once again, it was a cooler day. I now have a thermometer attached to a post on the balcony so can measure the temperature without guessing. As I type this diary entry, the temperature is 21oC so is what I find comfortable. I managed to complete a large icon today and found a frame that it fits perfectly. This was amazing because the icon is an unusual size and, even so, it wasn’t necessary to trim the icon at all, and it fit exactly into the frame. The frame is quite old and still has the original glass so has proved to be perfect for the icon, which is of the Kursk Theotokos. This also has provided the chance to test my new water soluble varnish, which I didn’t want to open until the weather cooled. Another interesting thing that happened today was that Andy brought to me a new water container. It is a large, 5 gallon bottle of purified water which is well designed with a carrying handle on the side and a handy pump and tap on the top. The tap is well designed and has a little stopper that can be used to seal the end of the tap when not in use. The water has already been sampled and definitely tastes different from the water that comes from my sink tap.
14 JULY, 2021 Thanks be to God, today was a bit cooler ! We were supposed to have our power shut off for a number of hours today but that did not happen. This is good because even though it is cooler, it is still hot and uncomfortable during the day. I had shut down the computer and prepared the refrigerator to be shut down as well, in order to prevent problems related to a power surge. I also had filled several large plastic containers with water so that there would be water to drink throughout the day and I shall keep these and use them as the time passes. Now that I know the power is not going to be shut down this week, and in order to write the diary, it has been necessary to turn the computer on, reset it, and now do the typing. I also had put my milk into the freezer section of the refrigerator so that when the power went off, the milk would slowly thaw but not spoil due to the heat. Now I have to put it back into the refrigerator part to return to the liquid form. Such is life in the countryside.
13 JULY, 2021 Today is the feast day of the 12 Apostles. This leads us to think of them and how even though they were mostly simple men, still they were servants of God and helped spread the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His message of the salvation that is available to all people. It is rather humbling to know that these people, lacking university degrees or titles, were chosen and able to accomplish so much and this encourages us to learn more about them and how we might do our part to make sure that this message does not disappear from the world, which seems to be presently interested more in having things and being honoured and respected by other human beings. Hey, it’s an easy trap to fall into but a hard trap to escape. Even though they use the new calendar, and so today is not their actual feast day, we did commemorate the Holy Apostles Mission in Chilliwack, BC today. They are our dear brothers and close friends
12 JULY, 2021 This day was the celebration of the feast of our Sts Peter and Paul. Rather than the Liturgy, the “Obednitsa” was served, with the hours and veneration of the feastday icon. The church was super hot but we managed to make it through the service without anyone passing out. Following the chanting of the service, we had an excellent lunch in the kitchen which was probably the coolest room in the building. Any way, we had lunch and excellent conversation and the day seemed to skim by so that before we were aware of it, evening had arrived and it was time to bid farewell to one another and end a nearly perfect day.
11 JULY, 2021 This Sunday morning began as Sunday mornings usually begin, with the Matin service. This was followed by the Liturgy with the commemoration of Saints Cyrus and John.The Liturgy was well attended with a noticeable number of children to receive Holy Communion. We were also blessed to have Andrei serving in the altar with Archbishop Lazar and Father Mircea, and to read the “Our Father” in Georgian. With this being the eve of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, it was also necessary to prepare the church for the service tomorrow.
10 JULY, 2021 On this day of St Sampson the Guest Receiver, we are reminded that hospitality is an important aspect of living the Orthodox Christian way of life. Hmm, I could write a whole essay on the meaning of “hospitality” and what it means, since it is not only a physical act but emotional/spiritual and so on. Well, you get the idea. Today was another very hot day. I had a candle sitting on the table on the balcony and it was melting and forming a puddle of wax in the candle holder. I managed to rescue it once again and now it has solidified and is resting before a large icon of the Theotokos where I read a Moleben each day. In the evening we had Vespers in the big church and it was extremely uncomfortable. In spite of the discomfort, there was a good size group gathered for the service. Following Vespers, we again had tea in the kitchen with Oleg and Igor, Dima and Father Moses. Liudmila came in briefly but she and Larissa from Vancouver Island, were busy airing mattresses and other articles that had gotten damp from the last interior flooding.
8 JULY, 2021 Today we remember the Martyr Fevronia as well as a number of other saints. As is usual, we ask them to pray for us, just as we continue praying for others. Archbishop Lazar called to ask if I could check on a package which might or might not have been delivered to the monastery. As it turns out, the package was a large box from Stavroula and had arrived safely at the monastery. It contained a number of bottles of pure olive oil and had mistakenly been taken to the library and placed with the candles because it looks identical to the boxes we receive from the people who make candles. I did find the box, opened it to make sure that it was not candles, and then called Archbishop Lazar to let him know that the package was at the monastery, safe and sound.
6 JULY, 2021 Today has proved to be another hot day. I measured the temperature by taking my thermometer out onto the balcony and it showed 34o C, which is still pretty warm. In spite of the bright sun and high heat, David and Vanya were visiting the monastery and were out in the field, picking blueberries, then cherries. After their work, they called me and I went over to the kitchen to have tea with them and snack on the freshly picked blueberries. Vanya made a fresh pot of coffee and we sampled the blueberries, which were juicy and sweet. He, David and I spent a goodly amount of time chatting and I was able to get some interesting photographs of Vanya with 9 & 5, who are quite friendly with Vanya and followed him around everywhere that he went.
5 JULY, 2021 This day we are celebrating a popular British Orthodox saints, St Alban. I don’t really know much about him but plan to read his life and learn more about him. I know that Vladika Lazar had written about him in his lives of saints for young people series, I think in book number five.
4 JULY, 2021 Today on the Orthodox Church calendar, each country has the commemoration of their beloved saints. We had Matins as always and Sorin had found on a computerized Typikon, the variant prayers for the feast of the saints of N.America. As a result, during the Liturgy, we also had the Tropar and Kondak for N.America, as well as the usual Joy of Canada. We have the ipad at the reading stand so that the changeable parts of the Liturgy can be followed by viewing the screen. At first I didn’t like the idea but the services were getting more complicated and the computerized system was a great help in arranging the format of the services. Thanks to the efforts of Sorin and Georgeta, the arrangement of the services is much less stressful and they proceed a lot smoother than in the past. Following the Liturgy, we had a short memorial and then a large meal in the big hall. As well, there was a baptism served by Father Thomas in the small church, which must have been quite hot and stuffy. The day ended with most people in the hall and the kitchen, having tea and chatting before returning to their homes. At 14.00 in the afternoon, there were two young men who came to the monastery, one was a Chinese Orthodox man from Vancouver and the other was a Romanian man, also from Vancouver. They were given a tour of the church by Fr. Moses, then the three of them had tea in the kitchen while the Chinese man spoke about his life in China and conversion to Orthodoxy by way of reading the Bible.
3 JULY, 2021 Today is the commemoration of many saints but two of my favourites are Kyril and Methody who were called “the Apostles to the Slavs”. Every time I read their life story, I am reminded of how much I don’t know and how much more there is to learn. Every time I look at their icon, I am reminded of the saying, “wisdom is infinite”, and so there is always more to learn, especially about the Orthodox Faith which has infinite learning possibilities. Today we are also being visited by a Georgian Orthodox priest though we don’t know at what time he shall arrive. We had a really good Vesper service, followed by a Pannikhida which was served by Fr Mircea, in Romanian and chanted by Sorin and Georgeta. There was a memorial meal in the small hall next to the kitchen, following the Pannikhida. Around this time, Fr Thomas arrived and was able to meet with Archbishop Lazar in the large hall.
2 JULY, 2021 Friday, celebrating the Apostle Jude. I have been searching for an icon of him but without any success, so far. I am still hot and uncomfortable, even though the temperature is a bit less. I just went to the church to clean the wicking on the lampada, relight the wicking and find the key to the room in which Fr Shio was staying. Lost keys are a frequent problem so I was more than a little worried about finding it. Found it where it had been placed in a drawer in order to keep it from being lost. Andy kindly took the key to make a copy and then pass it on to Archbishop Lazar.
1 JULY, 2021 Today is 1 July, Canada Day, and Kirill is still visiting. Even though today is still uncomfortably warm, and a holiday, Kirill spent the whole day doing chores for me. He has reinstalled the screening on a large door which is on the shaded side of the building, so now I can open the door and leave it open without the fear of birds or mosquitoes flying in. As well, there is a large vine that had been growing on a trellis and this vine has become a serious problem. Not only has it grown out of all proportion, but also has grown up under the balcony so was beginning to destroy the building. It had already grown into the outside wall and was loosening the frames around the window and had grown up into the floor. Who would ever expect a vine to cause such destruction?! I had been keeping it trimmed away from the building but am physically no longer able to do so myself. After Kirill spent the entire day doing this difficult job, we relaxed, had tea and a chat before he had to leave since his work called to let him know that he would be required to report early in the morning. A job well done here and the effects appreciated for a long time to come.
30 JUNE, 2021 I am pleased to report that although it is still hot, the weather reports claim that it is going to begin cooling. On this second day of the Apostles’ Fast, we are remembering three of my favourite saints: Samuna, Ismail and Habib. I think that these are going to be the subjects of my next attempt at creating a new icon. This evening, Kirill came for a visit after work and since it was cooler than yesterday, he and I went for a walk through the field and along the road leading to the monastery. There was a fairly strong breeze blowing, which was quite welcome and definitely noticed. After returning from our walk, we had tea and a snack and a good chat. With tomorrow being 1 July, people will be celebrating Canada Day and enjoying the public holiday, along with the hopefully cooler weather.
29 JUNE, 2021 Not much to report to the diary today, except that the heat continues to plague us all. I waited until late in the evening to make a large bowl of salad because it is too hot to cook anything, even to heat water for tea or Inka. Thankfully I have some fruit juice and Club Soda which are mixed together and make a refreshing drink, which hopefully also has a bit of nutritional value. Any way, the salad was made by finely chopping lettuce, avocado, dried apricots, dried mango, and as dressing, olive oil and balsam vinegar mixed with a touch of salt and pepper and trail mix added to make it a complete meal in a bowl.
28 JUNE, 2021 With the first day of the Apostle’ Fast, this diary entry is mostly about the heat. With such warm and unpleasant weather, it is necessary to drink lots of water and other liquids and to stay indoors. Due to the heat, I haven’t felt like cooking or eating but rather drinking. Thankfully I have a bag of carrots, some raw peppers, pears and English cucumbers with which to make salad which doesn’t require any cooking. We shall see what the next few days offer in the way of weather.
27 JUNE, 2021 This Sunday of All Saints was another very hot day among many hot days. Due to the intense heat, we began the Liturgy at 9 instead of 10. Even with the beginning being earlier, it was still uncomfortably hot in the church. We also had at the end of the Liturgy, an anointing service during which the congregation came up for anointing with healing oil, our little group of singers continued with the singing of the hymn that we ordinarily use, following the reading of the Holy Gospel at all the Liturgies. Once again, we were pleased to have, besides Sorin, Georgeta, Natasha, and Fr Moses, also Larissa Tchernova from Vancouver Island. We had tea and a small luncheon which was spread throughout the hall and the new kitchen. As always, there was plenty of room for people to observe proper distancing and yet also enjoy a brief time of socializing with friends and acquaintances. As a result of the intense heat, even indoors, the socializing was brief but enjoyable.
26 JUNE, 2021 What can I say, it is hot and now other people are suffering from the heat, not just me. I did go outside just to check the heat and even in that short amount of time, I started to feel sick from the heat. As a result, I stayed indoors again today, catching up on some reading, doing a bit of drawing, drinking lots of water and tea, With this heat, I don’t feel like cooking or even eating much so instead, ate raw carrots and some pears. Archbishop Lazar called to let me know about the heat and that my phone is still not sending the photos to his computer. When/if the heat lets up during the week, I hope to once again go to the phone company and do something about my phone. Kirill came by and we had tea and a chat. I had sent a few photos to Kirill’s phone and he tells me that he received them. I am thinking that maybe it is possible to send photos from phone to phone but not from phone to computer. Hopefully the problem can soon be solved. While trying to cool off, a van drove up and parked in the parking area. It turns out that it was Larissa Tchernova with a friend and they had brought watermelon and other things. They invited us to come over but it was just too hot and so we declined the invitation. Kirill left to go swimming at the river because he just couldn’t cool off. I stayed put, drinking lots of water and juice but have not been able to cool off very much. Hmmm. Hope Sunday is better: we shall see.
24 JUNE, 2021 This is another hot day in a series of hot days and I am trying not to complain. In spite of the heat, as I look out my window at the fields, I see that they are a deep green, where they used to be brown dirt. The water in front of my building, is getting lower and lower and is now full of water lilies and cattails. The water also seems to have an oily film of blue/green/red/orange and yellow, floating on top. Someone asked me if there are any fish in the water but there seem to be only frogs and mosquitoes, with the mosquitoes being far more numerous than the frogs. It is also interesting that we have so many beautiful flowers and flowering plants. It seems that many of them thrive in the sun and heat, as long as they have enough water. Archbishop Lazar called to let me know that the little “Mount Athos fountain” has now been completed and would make an interesting photograph. As soon as the heat dies down, I will go to the church to check the lampada and also to the Mt Athos fountain to take a few photos of it. Well, I have gone to the fountain now and got some good photos of it, as well as a beautiful arrangement which included bright orange and yellow roses, which at first I thought were artificial. Kirill and I both had our phone/cameras out and got pictures of the fountain and some interesting plants. We could not prolong our photo session because the mosquitoes were attacking and making it uncomfortable to be outside.[Sorry folks, but Father Moses did not send the pictures along with the diary]
23 JUNE, 2021 Much later in the day, I went next door to check the lamp in the big church, trim the wick, add oil and check for any changes in the hall or church. The large analoy I cleaned and removed to it’s normal place where Georgeta uses it for her chanting books. Then I went to the kitchen to have a nice and cold and large, glass of water, which was delicious and a welcome treat. After that, I went to the hall and was surprised to see that the tables had all been set up, covered with new cloths, little vases of flowers set on each table. With the newly painted walls, the new windows and window coverings, this was a welcome addition and one that I hope everyone will appreciate.
22 JUNE, 2021 In spite of the heat, I did need to go to the church to, first of all, check the lampada and clean the wick, then remove the greenery from the church. It is a good thing that I checked the church because the lampada did need a bit more oil and the greenery was quite wilted and in need of removal. Since we are not now allowed to burn, I got a large garbage bag because there are a lot of branches and greenery to collect. In this way, these can be saved for a day when it is raining and safe to burn them in my little wood burning stove. On Sunday I was given a box of various food items and one of these was what I call a vegetarian stew, made up of many kinds of vegetables. All that was needed was to add crushed garlic to them. Now that the week is fast free, I also chopped some cheese into little squares and added this to the vegetables and it makes an excellent way to continue celebrating the Pentecost feast.
21 JUNE, 2021 With today being “Holy Spirit Day”, I am celebrating by making a special rolled oats to which I am adding finely chopped mango, chopped apricots, chopped dates, avocado and both sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. It is really too hot to cook so I am drinking cold ginger ale, rather than hot Inka or coffee. I do have a copy of the Canon for the Holy Spirit which I will also read at my little icon corner because it is too hot to go outside and definitely too hot in the church.
20 JUNE, 2021 This day of Pentecost was begun with the Matins of the feast, followed by the Liturgy and the traditional “kneeling prayers” of Pentecost. Following the prayers, we then had a memorial service and tea in the new kitchen. The church was decorated with multiple branches of oak which Andy kindly cut yesterday for putting up in the church. These oaks have acorns and are deep green so blended beautifully with ivy vines and green berries. The services were a bit longer today and the heat caused a bit of distress with some parishioners (myself included), but the services were beautiful and went smoothly. Sorin, Georgeta, Matushka, and Natasha helped with the chanting, which, again, is very much appreciated and helped to make the services proceed smoothly.
19 JUNE, 2021 Today at the monastery began with a funeral. The service went well and was served by Father Mircea and Archbishop Lazar. Matushka Raissa and I were the chanters. The service was about half and half, Slavonic and English and I was thankful to have Matushka to help with the Slavonic parts of the service. There were some beautiful flower arrangements, especially the large one atop the coffin, which was open for the funeral service. Following the funeral, we then began planning the decorating of the church for the evening Pentecost Vesper service and the Sunday morning Matins and Liturgy of Pentecost. The Vesper service went well, even though we were using several different books which did not always agree with one another. There were several Russian and Ukrainian ladies attending the service and Margarita and her husband. Following the Vesper service, we had a small Pannikhida since today is a “Soul Saturday”. We then dismissed to the kitchen where we had tea and some snacks and were able to catch up on local events.
18 JUNE, 2021 The passed few days have been (for me) quite uncomfortable. As you all know, I can’t take the heat and am uncomfortable when the temperature is higher than 20o. Andy had put Archbishop Lazar’s vehicle decals on the van so he was free to take me into town. We went to the hardware store in order to search for water soluble varnish, which is what I prefer to use on icons. There were so many kinds of varnish in the Rona store, that it took a bit of time to find and choose the right can. Thankfully, Andy is patient and waited for me with 9 & 5 keeping him company. Any way, I did purchase the varnish but was unable to find the glue I was searching for. After leaving the hardware store, we then went to the grocery store to look for a bottle of Castor Oil. I found it but was disappointed that the bottles were so small. Even so, at least they were available so I bought 2 of them. While searching, I also found bagged carrots which were on sale so bought these, as well as more dried apricots. I was searching for Inka but could not find any on the shelves and the worker in the store didn’t know what Inka was when I asked if they had any in the store. During part of the adventure, 9 & 5 fell asleep in the back of the van and were actually snoring, which was a bit of a surprise. They seem to enjoy trips into town and are not bothered by the heat and neither one of them experiences motion sickness, which is a good thing.
17 JUNE, 2021 Today is another warm/hot, day. This morning I changed the wicking on my little lampada, from pure cotton wicking, to jute wicking. This wicking is actually a large roll of jute binding twine from an abattoir, so don’t know if it is possible to find it in a local hardware store. I just received a call from Archbishop Lazar mentioning that Father Michael from Holy Resurrection, is going to have open heart surgery. As a result, I am going to read a Moleben for him and want to ask that the diary readers also remember Father Michael in your prayers. With all the experience I have had in hospitals during the last few years, I tremble at the thought of what Fr Michael is experiencing and know that it is most unpleasant.
16 JUNE, 2021 This is not a complaint, just a note. For some reason, nothing seems to be working today. My phone is completely not working and I logged onto the computer and kept getting a note on the screen saying that the “server is unavailable”. I am not sure what this means but we often get this message. What it does mean for me is that we can’t get on the web, we can’t check our email and I am unable to write the diary as long as the computer is not working. It is rather late and now the computer is functioning, hence, this short diary entry. At least we have electricity so it has been possible to drink my last Inka in peace.
15 JUNE, 2021 What a day this has proved to be. Again, it is uncomfortably warm so I am staying indoors and doing a bit of cleaning. The first thing is dusting the furniture and then vacuuming the floor. This is a bit easier now that I have found a tall and thin vacuum. I have used up all the Diet Coke for cleaning so now am using baking soda which is excellent for scrubbing the stainless steel sink as well as the bathroom fixtures. I also found some hats which are being soaked because I don’t think they would hold up if they were put into a washing machine. Also, these will be hung on the line to dry because the sunshine works better and makes everything smell good.
Vladika Lazar Puhalo shared a link to podcasts
14 JUNE, 2021 Once again, it has been a cooler day at the monastery. Following the reading of the simple morning prayers, I decided to do a bit of experimenting with wicking used for icon lamps and also the types of oil. Already we use pure cotton binding twine, such as you would use for tying packages. It works super well if it is first soaked in vinegar, then dried completely and cut into whatever length you would want. This wicking is then threaded into the wick float and works well. Added to this is also another kind of binder’s twine which is made of jute. Jute is very good at wicking oil and doesn’t have to be soaked in vinegar. All you do is cut the twine into the length you wish to use, thread it into your wick float, put it into the lamp, and light it. The jute usually burns for about 2 days before you have to remove the carbon and I believe that it can be purchased in any hardware store or any place that sells butcher supplies. I almost forgot to mention that there are many kinds of oils available in Canada but the best for icon lamps is still pure canola oil. There are a few others that also work, such as corn oil, but canola is the easiest to find, burns the cleanest and doesn’t have a bad smell when burning.
13 JUNE, 2021 Today at the monastery we celebrated the memory of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. The service went well and the fact that the temperature was cooler, helped a lot. Following the Liturgy, we did have tea in the kitchen, which gave a few people the chance to say hello before leaving. David and Vanya cleaned the kitchen after everyone left. Then they did some cleaning in the altar and the hall, which did need a bit of vacuuming. Later in the evening, I did a bit of cooking and this time fried some potatoes with fresh onions, finely chopped peppers as well as garlic. With this I had a delicious bowl of borsch [yes, that is the correct spelling] and washed it all down with a glass of compote. A nice and nutritious way to end the day.
12 JUNE, 2021 Today has proved to be another warm day, though I have to say that it hasn’t been really hot. The day was not that comfortable until later in the afternoon so I stayed indoors and worked on a few simple projects. Father Mircea arrived early this morning and has been cleaning away and is still here as I write this diary entry. Even after all his work, he did stay for the Vesper service which went well. As is usual for most Vesper services, there were no parishioners attending. Even so, it was nice and following the service, Father and I had tea in the new kitchen, a bit of a chat and we each had a delicious “vegan” oatmeal cookie with our tea.
11 JUNE, 2021 This day is relatively cool, though the temperature is rising. Now that it is evening, it is cool enough that I can go for a walk in order to get some exercise. Besides walking, I do have exercises to do, which were given to me during the last stay in the hospital in Abbotsford. These exercises have to do with breathing and so are mainly to aid the lungs. Some have to be done lying on the floor and some can be done in a chair. I also have a little breathing apparatus that has to be used each day to increase the amount of oxygen that my lungs can take in. In the area of food preparation, I discovered that soaking potatoes too long is not good for them because they will gradually just disintegrate. The main reason for soaking potatoes, once they are cut, is to remove starch. It seems that a person can remove too much starch and not have much potatoe left. Today I also made another rolled oat dish, adding finely chopped strawberries as well as finely chopped dried apricots and blueberries. This proved to be another pleasant combination.
10 JUNE, 2021 Today was the celebration of the great feast day of the Ascension of Christ. The service went well, especially since we had some extra help with the chanting. Sorin, Natasha and Larissa helped with the chanting of the Hours, Liturgy and the Pannikhida that followed. We then had tea in the new kitchen and everyone left, except for Liudmila, Dima and Larissa. They worked out in the yard until Kirill arrived for tea and a visit as well. Kirill, Dima and I took a walk around the monastery until it was time for Dima and his mom to leave with Larissa. Kirill and I then had a short talk and another tea until it was time for him to leave. With so much going on, the day felt like a Sunday
9 JUNE, 2021 I just finished reading an Akathist to the Theotokos and am taking a short break. Kirill brought a giant size candle and every time I read a Moleben or Akathist, I light this candle which should last for a long time. It had been left out on the balcony where we have a little table for tea and the candle actually had begun to melt. The bottom was bulging and the whole candle was leaning to one side, like the Tower of Pisa. If we had left it out, it would have become just a large puddle of melted wax so that’s why I brought it indoors and reshaped it, let it harden again and now using it for prayers. This evening, the Vesper service for the feast day of the Ascension was read in the big church. The reminders of Pascha were removed and the new icon of the Ascension was set on an analogy and decorated for tomorrow. We look forward to the Liturgy and feast of the Ascension.
8 JUNE, 2021 This is another interesting day from the perspective of the weather. I checked the thermometer and it is 31 o, which is warm but bearable. Even so, this means staying indoors and working on a number of projects. I did check the lampada in the big church this afternoon and it was burning with a small flame that was more like a red spark that hadn’t gone out. The wick was trimmed, more oil was added to the lamp and so it should be burning brightly as this diary entry is being written.
7 JUNE, 2021 Another quiet Monday in which to recover from Sunday. Sundays are wonderful days with the celebration of the Liturgy and various feasts and saint’s days, but to be honest, these can be exhausting. As I have mentioned in previous diary entries, Monday is the day to recover from the long day that is the Sunday celebration. One restful thing that I do on Mondays is to sit down and read, which is both enjoyable and relaxing. For a long time I have wanted to read “The Shepherd of Hermas” but never did so. Finally, I found the text and am reading it, along with a Russian language reader which is for children but proving to be very useful in the grasping of points of grammar as well as spelling. In the area of cooking, today I am going to make an omelet with chopped vegetables and mushrooms and the wonderful eggs from Andy’s chickens. Their eggs taste so much better than the eggs from the store and I am assuming that they are also more nutritious.
6 JUNE, 2021 This Sunday, in memory of the Blind Man, was also another quiet and peaceful day. Not only did we remember the blind man but also St Nikita who is one of my favourite saints. Since my throat was a bit rough today, I was so happy and thankful to have Sorin, Georgeta and Natasha, all at the chanting stand to help with the Liturgy and the Pannikhida that followed. Archbishop Lazar and Father Mircea (yes, I have been practicing calling him F. Mircea, instead of F. Markel) served the Liturgy which went smoothly. Following the Liturgy and Pannikhida, there was a small group of people who did various chores of cleaning, such as vacuuming, dusting. David and Vanya worked for quite some time, vacuuming the big hall, scrubbing the kitchen floor, and vaccuming the trapeza. This required the moving of furniture and I got some excellent photos of Vanya carrying chairs back to the Trapeza table. Sorin was checking the electrical outlets in the hall and I got a good photo of both this being done, and the instrument he uses to check if the outlet is live or dead. After everyone finished their work, I made a pot of tea, we all had a cup and then bade our farewells to one another. I went back to my little place and was sending some emails when Kirill arrived, also to have tea and a chat. He had been camping on the weekend and was on the way home but wanted to stop by to say hello.
5 JUNE, 2021 Today is a quiet and peaceful Saturday at the monastery. I did go over to check the lampada this morning (no, it was out) so refilled with oil and trimmed the wick and lit it. Since I was already there, I read the Pannikhida which I do every Saturday in my little icon corner. Following this, I went into the hall to check out what had been done on Friday and was both surprised and pleased to see that the new blinds had been installed. These new blinds are quite interesting because they are made of fabric and are on a roller so that they can be easily raised or lowered. There are also two thicknesses of fabric so that even when the blinds are closed, a person can look through them. Interestingly, they match the glass on the new doors which unites the design of the hall and blends with the kitchen and the little trapeza next door, as well as the entrance from the trapeza into the area leading up to the big church. Saturday evening, we had Vespers which is now served at 6 in the evening, rather than 5. Archbishop Lazar served and I was the chanter; there were no parishioners present.
4 JUNE, 2021 Today is overcast and a cooler. I just checked the thermometer on the balcony and it registers 23o C. This was wonderful news and hopefully means that we shall have a cooler weekend. With cooler weather, it seemed that it might be a good time to cook. This time I was experimenting with frying cabbage. My hope was to imitate the fried cabbage that some of the Russian ladies had brought to the monastery in the past. First I fried onions, then added chopped mushrooms and lastly the shredded cabbage. The oil used is sunflower oil which works nicely on almost everything. I am happy to say that it turned out well and tastes almost the same as the delicious cabbage the Russian ladies bring. Before Naiana and Ovidiu left, they gave to me a large, linen canvas. Now comes the difficult task of deciding what subject to attach to the canvas. It is a natural linen fabric, which means it isn’t white but is a light brown colour. Also, it has been stretched on a wooden frame so is pretty much ready for use, unless the canvas is to be whitened. I’ll take a bit of time to think about this.
3 JUNE, 2021 With this hot weather, it has been possible to do a good number of indoor jobs, which now is including sewing. I have a new Riassa which is beautifully made (no, I didn’t sew it) but it was in need of some modification and also had to have some buttons adjusted. Now I am debating whether or not to wear it to church. In the area of food preparation, it is just too hot to create any food with heat so this means fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of salads. In order to make the salads more nutritious, I have been adding trail mix which had been mentioned before. As well, finely chopped fruits, such as apricots, oranges, berries, also make the salad tastier and more complete in nutrition. Recently I bought pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, as well as Spanish peanuts and these are also excellent. Sometimes I like to mix shredded pickled beets and sweet peppers which also add colour to the salad. Toward the late evening, Kirill came for a visit and our usual tea and conversation. We managed to take a walk out to the field and then returned just before his son, Vanya, also came for a short visit.
2 JUNE, 2021 A warm Wednesday greeting to all the diary readers. I just checked the thermometer on the balcony and it is 44o C, which I find to be uncomfortable. For this reason, I am indoors and working away on my new sewing project. When it was time to take a break, I got out the delicious cabbage salad that I had written about, with the apricot and avocado. I had a large glass of ginger ale and had a bowl of sliced English cucumbers and fresh radishes, also chilled. Since it is too hot to cook, now is the time for both fruit and vegetable salads. In order to make these even more nutritious, I also mix in “trail mix” which after sitting for a few hours, becomes soft and easily eaten. I did check the lampada in the big church, this I do every day, and for some reason, it isn’t staying lit. Previously, I could trim the wick, add oil, and it would burn for at least 2 days before needing the carbon cleaned from the wick and more oil added. Now when I go in, it is always out so I have to see if maybe it is a change in humidity or if visitors are extinguishing the flame or if maybe the wicking is too thick for the float. Any way, at this time it is burning so will check it tomorrow morning. I also got some excellent photos of the flying of the drone yesterday and so am sending them along.
1 JUNE, 2021 Although the weather is a bit uncomfortable (for me), I still have things to do and that includes spending time out of doors. Andy and I went into town in order to return some library materials. Then I went to do just a bit of grocery shopping, mainly to buy a bag of Stevia because I try to avoid the use of sugar and don’t like a number of artificial sweeteners which use chemicals that are harmful to a person’s health. While looking for the Stevia, I noticed some beautiful dried apricots so bought a bag which was on sale. We then went to get fish sandwiches and coffee and then returned to the monastery. It was just too hot to spend much time in town and so it was good to get back to the monastery. In the evening, Kirill and one of his friends from work, came to visit. We had tea in the new kitchen and then went out into the field to view the flying of a miniature drone. After Kirill and his friend departed, I made a salad from shredded cabbage, to which I added finely chopped avocado and finely chopped dried apricots. The combination of avocado and apricots is excellent for cold salad and also healthy. After making the salad, I put it into the refrigerator so that it would be nice and cool for my Wednesday lunch.
31 MAY, 2021 Another hot and muggy day seems to have arrived. Monday is always a bit of a recovery day from the Sunday celebration of services and today is no different. Even so, there was also time to look over my new sewing machine and begin getting some garments ready for repairs, which are long overdue. I was given a really nice riassa which has no bottom hem so this shall be the first project to be completed. Then there are some shirts that need new buttons sewn on and the hems repaired. It will take a while to accomplish all this but it is so much easier and quicker to do with a sewing machine than it is to do by hand, which was the way I had been making repairs to my clothes.
29 MAY, 2021 Today seems to be a return to summer weather, though it is still pleasantly cool. Kirill arrived for a visit and is presently cleaning a very large window which I was going to clean. Since it is on the second floor and I am unable to climb the ladder, the window has remained uncleaned for some time, until today. There were several visitors, two young ladies who came to light candles and pray. We spoke for a brief time and then they left. I met Andy in the kitchen and also spoke with him for a short time. He had not returned my phone calls and I could not understand why but then he explained to me that he had changed his phone and had a new number. I had been dialing his old number so he didn’t know that I was trying to call him. He took my phone, added his number to my list of people on my contact list so now it will be possible to phone him when necessary. Once again, my phone has been misbehaving so I am still hoping to change it this coming week. In the evening, we had Vespers in the big church and the service went well. Only Kirill came and one Russian lady came for about 10 minutes, lit a candle, left a list of names and then departed. Following Vespers, Kirill and I had tea and then, since it now gets dark very late in the evening, we took a walk around the monastery property. We returned and then had a small meal, and were talking, when the electricity went off. This put an end to most activity since everything is electric, except for a few candles.
28 MAY, 2021 This has proved to be another fairly quiet day at the monastery. Workers came this late morning to check out the hall. I didn’t go to meet them but am assuming that they were checking for the new blinds. The entire hall has been painted now and all the windows cleaned, both inside and out, and that was a lot of window cleaning to complete! I did get a couple of good photos of the freshly painted hall and brilliant windows. In the area of food, I tried another experiment by making mashed potatoes and mixing antipasta so that there was a more balanced blend of carbohydrate and vegetables. The vegetables were a blend of zucchini, onions, green beans, olives and mushrooms. For a bit of protein, I had a piece of fried fish and washed all down with a large glass of my favourite, piping hot Inka. [Special note: Father Moses likes zucchini. Vladika Lazar seems to believe that it was planted by the devil.]
27 MAY, 2021 Again, the day is gloomy and wet and a bit of wind to add to the cool comfort of the day, at least for me. I love the cool weather but have to admit that it is not the greatest for people who suffer from arthritis. Sorin and Father Mircea were here and working in the hall. I managed to capture Fr Mircea cleaning the hall windows, preparing them for their new blinds. A Russian couple came to visit, not the church, but to view the newly completed kitchen. They were quite impressed. I went to the big church to check on the lampada and was surprised that it was not burning. I had gone yesterday to add more oil and trim the carbon from the wick so it should have been burning brightly. Since it wasn’t, I trimmed the wick, added more oil and then crossed myself and lit the wick. After speaking with Fr Mircea, I went back to the church to make sure the lampada was burning and was pleased to see that it was still burning brightly. Kirill stopped by and we had tea and another chat which gave me a chance to ask about some photos he had sent to me, of his work place.
26 MAY, 2021 Once again, the weather at the monastery is cloudy, dark and rather cool. Father Mircea has been here since noon and I have not yet gone over to take photographs of whatever new work has been done. I was supposed to go into town today to see about changing my phone but things didn’t work out, so now I’ll have to plan for that to be done another day. There was a bird trapped inside and I was able to photograph it in the window. At the very moment, there was another bird which was flying toward the balcony and the photo caught it mid flight. I also took several photos of the night sky early in the morning when it was rather dark and the moon was just visible through black clouds. This made a beautiful and dramatic photo.
25 MAY, 2021 Today has proved to be another overcast and cool day. I did go to the big church to check the lampada, stopped by the kitchen on the way out and met Andy, We had tea and a chat and then I returned to begin work on another icon. Also, doing a serious web search for any new English language translations of Slavonic services. Interestingly, while searching for English language translations, I found that there are also serious works on translating the services into Spanish as well as German, Chinese and Portuguese. There has long been a good number of books in French but there are also more now being created; wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were Orthodox service books in every language of the world?! That might not be possible since there are so many languages being spoken but at least the major languages which many people speak as their first and second languages, are being recognized. As a side note, I even found a site that has translations of many services and service books, into a variety of native Alaskan languages, as well as instructional materials, also in these languages. This information has seriously brightened my cloudy day.
24 MAY, 2021 Today is a very calm and relaxing day at the monastery. On the civil calendar, today is Victoria Day so is a civil holiday. Most of today has been rather gloomy with lots of clouds and a good amount of drizzle. Just outside my window is a cubby hole which a couple of birds have taken up as their nesting place; in fact, they have already built a nest and it looks like there are 2 baby birds in the nest. This sounds really nice but the reality is something different. The birds are extremely messy and constantly flying back and forth. As a result, my window frequently needs to be cleaned so now I am plotting to absent these birds from the site. Kirill has been camping over the weekend but just stopped by on the way home, to have tea and a bit of a chat. He is sort of becoming my “living Russian language dictionary” because I am often asking him for words that I cannot find or about words that I have heard people using and which are not in the Russian dictionary.
23 MAY, 2021 This day is the Sunday of the Paralytic which is an excellent reminder that we are all paralyzed in a variety of ways. As is usual, we began the day with the Matins of the feast, followed by the Liturgy. Although it was a joyful day, being able to celebrate the feastday and the Resurrection, it was also tinged with sadness because we are losing two of our prized parishioners, Ovidiu and Naiana, who are returning to Romania. At the end of the Liturgy, they were presented with an icon of the “Joy of Canada” which had been signed by all those attending the Liturgy. Lots of photos were taken as a remembrance of this day and then, we served a Pannikhida which was well attended. In the hall there was a memorial meal and shortly after this, everyone left for their homes. Although it was a long and eventful day, at the end of the day it was good to have a sit down, take a few deep breaths and simply relax and regain our strength.
22 MAY, 2021 Another sunny and warmer day at the monastery. In the early morning, looking across our little valley, it was quite foggy, which means heat, heat and more heat would be on the way. By 7 o’clock, the fog was gone and the heat of the day already beginning to form. This seems to be good for a variety of animals who are now more readily seen around the monastery grounds: eagles flying overhead, some squirrels, the blue herons in the stream, several types of birds, salamanders who now can be seen basking in shaded areas, raccoons, a couple of dead rats, lots of butterflies and even a few rabbits. So far, I have seen no bears. Now you can see why it is important to keep the doors shut in order to keep the animals outdoors where they belong. I was reminded by Archbishop Lazar that we are now serving the Vesper service at 6. We had the service, which went well and now I am preparing a little snack of toast with Tzatziki, which is delicious.
21 MAY, 2021 Today the weather was back to sunny and very warm. At least today it should be dry enough to take a nice and long walk around the monastery property and maybe even through the field and along the line of the property of our neighbours. It is interesting to walk along their property line because of the little bridge that has been built over the stream and the many beautiful wild flowers and vines that grow near this bridge and the stream. The blue herons have returned and were sited standing in the stream, searching for food and enjoying the warmer weather.
20 MAY, 2021 We had a pretty wet and cloudy day, most of today. Even so, the sun came out later in the afternoon and dried the road and walkways enough so that it was possible to take a nice walk down the road and to the main gate. Kirill stopped by for tea and after tea, we took our walk to the front gate and got some excellent photos of newly blooming plants as well as the now flowing waterways on the monastery property.
19 MAY, 2021 Once again it was gloomy and rather cold at the monastery. This meant that it was good to stay indoors and do a bit of “house cleaning”. This involved the usual kinds of things such as dusting, washing a few clothes and continuing the sorting and filing of materials that had been written when we once published a magazine. As well, this provided time for the making of a new salad, which is always a welcome part of my diet. Today the salad was made of finely shredded cabbage, to which was added finely chopped onions, frozen vegetables, crumbled seaweed, and rather than using salad dressing, humus was added as a dressing and chopped garlic stirred in. Very nice and goes well with green tea.
18 MAY, 2021 This has been an unpleasant day with cloudy skies and inclement weather. This allowed for time to do a bit of web searching for information about the translation of Orthodox service books and educational materials, into English. It is quite surprising to see how much material is suddenly being created, some of poor quality but much of excellent quality and very helpful. Now, if Orthodox people will just support these efforts by actually buying these available texts!!!
17 MAY, 2021 Another calm and quiet day at the monastery. Had the chance to sort and file some more papers and do a bit more work on the icon. Also, found a beginners Russian Reader which I am practising reading and hoping that it helps in developing some understanding of Russian grammar.
16 MAY, 2021 This day began with it being relatively comfortable, but then heated up rapidly as the day wore on. The Matin service was begun, as usual, at 8, followed by the Liturgy. Archbishop Lazar and Father Mircea served and, thankfully, had two altar servers to assist. Following the Liturgy, there was a full Pannikhida which was served in English. There was a bit of confusion during the Pannikhida due to the editing process which is continuing on the new books, but should be completed within a few weeks. Right now, there is a little group of women working on the yard and Father Mircea is talking with a family who came to pray and light candles. They are Romanian and had been visitors to the monastery a number of years ago, though I can’t remember just how long ago that was. Once again, I made it a point to show them the icon that has the hand embroidered cover (rizza/oklad) which was created by an elderly Russian woman. After having tea and a chat, everyone went their separate ways. Just a short time after, Kirill arrived and wanted to have tea and then an evening walk. We had tea and some snacks, did a bit of talking about the events of the day because he had been camping for the passed 2 days but was anxious to visit the monastery on Sunday afternoon.
15 MAY, 2021 Saturday! I have always loved Saturdays but could not tell you why. Any way, this Saturday began with what is the usual heat and discomfort but for all the forest creatures it must be a glorious day with sun and warmth. For me it was another period of time to stay indoors, protected from the heat and burning rays of the sun. I began the morning by trying to call Kirill to pass some news to him and to find out if he was going to go camping. Unfortunately, my phone was not working properly, once again. It is quite frustrating and I don’t like depending on non-dependable devices. Any way, throughout the day, I tried calling, just to check if the phone had changed but nothing. I noticed also that several cars were now parked outside and it turns out that a number of people were here, working in the new kitchen. I wanted to phone Andy but couldn’t, then wanted to phone Sorin, but couldn’t. Even though it was only 14.00 and terribly hot, I went over to the kitchen to check on whether Andy or Sorin were there, thinking that maybe they could help with the phone problem. Sorin was there and looked at the phone, which kept giving a false message. Sorin was able to call Andy who came over and also kept getting a false message that there was no sim card in the phone. At this time, the computer also was not working and kept giving the message, “Server Unavailable”, which I have no idea what that means, except that when this message flashes onto the screen, it isn’t possible to check email or scan the web. Since you are reading this diary entry, you can tell that the computer problem has vanished and now it is possible to check email and also do some web searches that I had promised to do.
14 MAY, 2021 Today is a super hot day. I don’t take heat very well so when it gets like this, I begin to feel a bit nauseous. This is one of the reasons I don’t go for my daily walk until later when the temperature drops and it becomes noticeably cooler and the sun is not so intense. As well, there is often a gentle breeze blowing in the evenings, to add to the cooler temperature
13 MAY, 2021 We can be sure that summer is here and here to stay. I have a thermometer on the balcony and it registered 42 o C this afternoon at 15.00, not exactly cool weather. Kirill had given to me a large pillar candle and it is so hot on the balcony that the pillar candle is slowly melting and drooping to one side so has to be kept indoors to prevent it melting. Just a bit later in the day, Andy and I went to Maple Ridge to visit Ovidiu and Niana’s house because they had some things they wanted to give to the monastery, such as a really comfortable Stickley couch and matching chairs. As well, there was a large box of various paints and some original paintings that were created by their daughter. As a treat to me, Andy stopped at the library so that I could collect a book that I had on hold and then we stopped by Burger King for one of their excellent coffees. A surprise treat was that Kirill stopped by in the evening because he was on his way to Chilliwack but had time for tea and a nice walk. We had tea and some fruit and then took a walk which was enjoyable since it was later in the evening and the cool air was descending and replacing the hot air. Also, there were not yet too many mosquitoes so we managed to make a complete circle before the mosquitoes began to annoy us both.
11 MAY, 2021 This day was also another sunny and warm day which seems to be a prediction of the remaining summer months. After prayer, I decided that some food preparation was needed. Hmm! What to make?! Since it is warm weather, cold salad is an excellent idea. I had various cold and chopped vegetables so got out a large bowl and cutting board. I finely chopped raw onions, a bit of garlic, sweet peppers, pickled beets, then added capers and Spanish peanuts and diced two large avocadoes. To all this I added one of my favourite dressings which is called “Ranch” and comes in both regular and a diet variety. It also comes with different ingredients: garlic, cheese and regular. After stirring this all together and placing it in the refrigerator to chill, then I fried some fish, also to have later with the salad, once the fish was cool enough. All of this, with a nice apple and glass of Inka, was an excellent meal for an excellent day.
10 MAY, 2021 We find that today was another sunny and warmer day at the monastery. Once again I managed to take a walk around the monastery field. The ground is a bit lumpy so difficult to walk on but the exercise is necessary. At least if I happen to fall, it is on thick grass and soft ground. No matter, the walk was beautiful and there were a lot of beautiful sights to photograph. Just before going on my walk, Kirill came knocking at the door and asked if he might have tea with me. We had tea and some little snacks and then away we went out into the field. He had brought his camera along so, while walking, several trains came by and we got clear photos of them. As well, we went out to the big icon of the “Joy of Canada” and also got some excellent photographs of the various flowering plants and then searched for frogs in the nearby water (there were not any). By this time, the sun was beginning to get lower in the sky and the temperature noticeably dropping so it seemed that this was a good time to return. We did so and had another cup of tea while I showed Kirill some new art work and explained to him a bit about storage and garbage problems.
8 MAY, 2021 This Bright Saturday proved to be a bit of a physically cold day with rain in the early morning, lots of clouds and a much lower temperature. This was an excellent reason to stay indoors and continue with the task of finding and sorting papers and then filing them in my little plastic cabinets. Later in the day, as I was doing a bit of drawing, Kirill came for a visit and also to attend the evening Vesper Service. We also were surprised to have Larissa Tchernova from Vancouver Island, not only attending the service but also helping with the reading and chanting. As well, Sasha was singing with us and checking in the altar to see if Archbishop Lazar needed any assistance during the service. Following the end of Vespers, Kirill and I took a walk around the monastery grounds. We were pleasantly surprised that 9 & 5 went with us all the way around the monastery property and stayed next to us all along the way. Only when we reached the gate house did they leave us and joined Andy for their evening snack.
7 MAY, 2021 This Friday of Bright Week was another peaceful and quiet day. Following the morning prayers, there was time to carefully go to the church to do the usual cleaning of the lampada, and add new oil. After this, I went to the library because it was necessary to search for the Pentecostarion which will be used for the church services, until Pentecost. Since our edition of the Pentecostarion is fairly large and covered in bright red cloth with gold leaf, it was not too difficult to find. So, I took it to the church and placed it on the reading stand where the Book of the Epistles also rests. After marking the Epistle reading for the Sunday Liturgy, I then freshened the greenery on the icon and also the candlestands and took the pitchers for water to be used during the Liturgy. Filled then the hot water pot with fresh water for tomorrow, and double checked that all was ready for the Sunday Liturgy.
6 MAY, 2021 This Thursday of Bright Week has come to an end and was a peaceful and meaningful day. After checking the lampada in the church, cleaning the wick and adding more oil, I decided to try walking to the Dewdney Post Office to mail a tube to our Father Vasili in Florida. The clear, acrylic tube was used because I had a colour print of an iconostas which will be used for his little chapel in Florida. With the tube, the print could be rolled and sealed without damaging the print. With the tube being transparent, it was also possible to place the printed address inside the tube where it would be protected from the weather and handling. As I left the post office, a train came by so that there was a chance to sit at a small table and rest. Before beginning the return walk to the monastery, I was greeted by a woman whom I did not know and who introduced herself as one of the nurses who had been at the Intensive Care Unit in Abbotsford. Since everyone there was wearing at least a mask and many were also wearing face shields, they are not easily recognized outside the hospital. We spoke for a short while and then the train was gone so that it was possible to continue on my way. Thankfully I had brought along an umbrella, as well as my bamboo walking stick so was prepared when it began to sprinkle. When arriving back at the monastery, it was necessary to take a seat and unwind with a treat: a tall and steaming glass of Inka
5 MAY, 2021 This Wednesday of Bright Week has been a fairly quiet day. After the morning service, then it was time to go next door to refresh the icon of the Resurrection, check the lampada wick and add more oil. The remainder of the day was given over to sending the necessary enotes and finally, a large glass of Inka and some paschal eggs.
4 MAY, 2021 Today is Tuesday of Bright Week and still a time for a bit of recovery from the long and meaningful Holy Week and Pascha services. Even so, today Andy and I had a chance to go to Langley, where we had some kind of metal part made, I believe, for the hose. After that, we then went to the Value Village where I bought a beautiful and large glass for my icon corner. This glass was made in India and is a large, clear glass which has broken chunks of rose and red coloured glass fixed to the outside, rather like a stained glass window. It is perfect for use as a lamp in an icon corner. As well, there was an excellent book on British literature from 1730 — to 1830, which was on sale and so came home with the icon lamp. In honour of the Bright Week, I also bought a new, pure cotton hat which is washable. As an extra treat, on the way back to the monastery, we stopped at Burger King for fish sandwiches and coffee, which is always a treat. Nice way to celebrate the holy days of Pascha and also to end the long day.
2 MAY, 2021 Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Greetings on this warm and sunny Pascha Sunday. Since the Pascha celebration is not like others, let me back track and begin this Sunday diary on Saturday evening. Everything had been arranged and set up so that we could have both the traditional triple Pascha procession and also an outdoor Matin/Liturgy service. Father Markel, Matushka, Sorin and Andy, worked really hard to set things up so that the celebration went smoothly. A number of people also worked long hours to insure that the interior work was completed by Pascha, and I especially want to mention the painter George, who did a marvellous job with his paint and brushes, on a huge area that would have been daunting to most people. Any way, back to the Paschal celebration. We had the traditional reading of the Epistles, beginning at 9 in the evening and there were a number of volunteers reading at the Plaschanitsa. At midnight, we began the traditional triple procession with the chanting of “Thy Resurrection O Christ our Saviour…..” This was followed by the Paschal Matin service, mostly in English but with the litanies in a variety of languages: Georgian, Slavonic, Romanian, English. As well, we also used the greeting of “Christ is Risen” in Georgian, Slavonic, Romanian, French, English. The reading of the feastday Gospel was in: English, Spanish, French, German, Romanian, Slavonic and possibly Georgian. At the reading of the Gospel, the sound system was acting up so we could not hear the reading very well where I was standing. Vladika Lazar read the Gospel in Serbian and Greek, and after Father Mircea had read in Romanian, French and Spanish, Vladika read in German and finally in English. In spite of a few minor difficulties, the service continued as one would hope and led up to the receiving of Holy Communion. Following the ending of the Liturgy, Vladika Lazar blessed the Pascha baskets, then people exchanged eggs and a few Pascha gifts and all left so that the monastery grounds were in near total silence.
30 APRIL, 2021 What an interesting day today has proved to be. First, it is sunny and the temperature mild, so comfortable. I was in my little place, looking on the computer for some information on Pascha icons as well as icons of St Symeon the New Theologian, when Elia called to say that she was next door, in the church, decorating the Epitafios (Plashchanitsa) and would I Iike to come over to visit. I was happy to do so because we haven’t been able to talk for a very long time and I miss seeing her and talking about all kinds of things. First I looked at the Plashchanitsa and then we sat down and had a good talk and then we said our “farewells” and she went over to see Archbishop Lazar. I then went to the hall where Father Mircea was busy doing what looked like sealing each of the windows in the hall. I took a few photographs and then left in order to take a short rest before the evening “lamentation” service. The “lamentation” service began with evening Vespers and then became the service of lementing for Christ at his burial shroud. By the end of the service, I had nearly lost my voice and right now when talking, my voice is quite gruff. Tomorrow morning we have a Liturgy and then a funeral so hope my voice has recovered by that time.
29 APRIL, 2021 Today was a long day at the monastery. We began with the Holy Thursday Liturgy which has a number of changeable parts and I was a bit worried because our service books are not all in one place. Any way, thankfully, Sorin found the service books that we needed for today so we were set for the services. After the long Liturgy, there was a group of women who worked on the landscape and the painter was also working on the big hall and did a beautiful job. Now we have a new kitchen which is quite nice, a renovated hall for gathering and the smaller hall just off the kitchen, which has been painted to match the large hall and kitchen. The scent of fresh paint was still present when we gathered in the evening for the service of the reading of the 12 Gospels, which is another lengthy service. Archbishop Lazar and Father Markel read the Gospels and Sorin, Matushka Raissa, Georgeta and myself, acted as the chanters. If anyone viewed the service on their computers, they would see that it went smoothely and was an excellent way to end a long and tiring day
28 APRIL, 2021 We have managed to reach the Wednesday of Holy Week. Today at the monastery the temperature is cool and it is overcast. A good size group of men are here today and it looks like they are painting the big hall; I am going to check a bit later and shall be taking photos of any new work that has been done. I am now back from checking the lampada in the big church and getting it ready for the Liturgy of Holy Thursday morning. Also looked over the big hall. The ceiling was painted and also the entrance and these were photographed but on camera it is impossible to tell that there is any difference. I did photograph where there was blue masking tape, so that the viewer could tell that there was a difference.
27 APRIL, 2021 This day has proved to be another overcast and cooler day with some rain. Archbishop Lazar and Andy were away doing various chores in town and I was catching up on emails that needed to be sent as well as searching for some of the books we shall need at the end of the week and for several icons. Sorin was here in the late afternoon and we went over some of the music for the Pascha service. He is busy recording various tones and should have quite a collection by this time.
26 APRIL, 2021 Today we had the evening Bridegroom Service. Since the traditional Orthodox way of telling time is from sunset to sunset, this means that although today is Monday on the civil calendar, we are celebrating the Tuesday Bridegroom Service. The service was broadcast as usual so hope that those viewing were able to hear us clearly.
25 APRIL, 2021 Today at the monastery was a long and bit tiring day. The day began with the festal Matin service for the Palm Sunday with blessing of branches, then the reading and chanting of Matins. This was followed by the Liturgy which was mostly in English today, even though it is the last Sunday of the month. Another interesting fact concerning the events of today is that the new kitchen has now had all the appliances installed, the cabinetry completed and even the door pulls installed so that now when you walk into the room, it is immediately recognizable as a beautiful and new kitchen. I believe that not all the plumbing has been properly repaired which means that some of the kitchen spaces are still not able to be used, such as the new sinks or the dishwasher. Following the service and looking over the kitchen, it was necessary to take a short rest because I was rather exhausted and there was another service in the late afternoon so it was necessary to be awake and functioning for it. At 17.00 we then had the Bridegroom Service which consists of a number of long Psalm readings which are interspersed with the singing of various Tropars. We were a bit rusty but still the service went well and we did broadcast it. Later in the evening, since fish is allowed on this day, I had a fish sandwich made of sardine pate spread onto spelt bread and a vegetarian dressing. Added to this was raw radishes and a large glass of Inka to wash it all down. Very nice.
24 APRIL, 2021 There has been a change in the weather with it being cloudy, raining and a bit cooler. We began the day with the Obednitsa in honour of the feast of the “Raising of Lazarus” which went fairly well, though there was a bit of confusion due to the use of several non matching service books, which is often a problem with English language services. As well, work was done on the kitchen, with the appliances being moved into place and most of them connected, though still not being able to be used. Then, this evening we had the Vesper service for the feast, with the Litya and blessing of the loaves. Again, the service went well, though again there was also a bit of confusion due to the use of several service books that were just a bit different. Hopefully the set of Holy Week services will be a bit less confusing, but we shall see.
22 APRIL, 2021 Another interesting but quiet day at the monastery. Today I went through the stack of names in my icon corner and removed those whose 40 days requests have passed. Even without these, there is still a good size stack of names on lists for both the living and the reposed, but now, instead of just having them stacked at the icon corner, I have a container to hold them so that it is easier to both find them and read them during the little daily Moleben service or the Panikhida. As I do each day, I went next door to check out the future kitchen in order to take photos of anything new that has been done. Then set up the books for tomorrow’s Presanctified Liturgy, got the little candles in the candle stands and went looking for some of the service books that will be needed for this coming Holy Week. With my arthritis being a bit severe, it is easier if I do these things a bit each day, rather than doing everything at one time, which would be difficult.
21 APRIL, 2021 Today at the monastery is “another scorcher” as the rude saying goes. Indeed, I took a collection of colouring books to Archbishop Lazar and by the time I returned to my little residence, I was suffering from the heat. Even so, I did stop to view the work that is presently being done on the future kitchen. Two men were busy cutting baseboards and doing measurements in the large hall as well as the kitchen. They thoughtfully stopped their work to explain and show what they were doing, which I then photographed. I didn’t want to act like an intruder so thanked them for their time and then went to the big church to set up things for this evening Presanctified Liturgy. The Liturgy went very well and I was so happy to have Georgeta chanting with me. Sadly, Sorin was suffering at home so was unable to come for the evening service and hopefully he will be feeling better as the weekend approaches.
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.