David’s brief visit ended early this morning as his plane departure was around five o’clock and we thus said our goodbyes last night.  My afternoon caregiver arrived promptly at four o’clock and, as she walked in, she roared aloud, “Good afternoon.”  It turned out that she was the girlfriend of Cliff our neighbour who died almost a year ago.  When it was discovered that he had leukemia, he died within sixteen days, no matter what therapy they tried.  Andy drove Vladika Lazar to visit a Serbian family that was celebrating their Slava of the Forerunner John today.  Serbs are probably the only Orthodox  people who celebrate a family slava instead of each individual’s nameday.  It came about when their ancestors were baptized into Orthodoxy and they either chose or were  given a saint to have as their protector, the most common ones being Saints Nicholas, Savva, Lazar, Barbara, Michael and Paraskeva, just to name a few of the most popular ones. The service is much like a miniature Matins service with the blessing of the kolach, a beautifully baked round loaf of bread.  It was common to frighten the neighbours half to death with shooting their rifles outdoors after the service, a custom that non Orthodox were not familiar with.  This was also done after weddings then the wedding party would speed down the main streets of towns and villages, shooting into the air, with neighbourhood mothers rushing to hide their children from being shot.  From the Serbian point of view it was only having a bit of fun. It could scarcely be done in this day and age and, if anyone did try it, they would be immediately apprehended by the police. On that jolly note I will end tonight’s diary entry.

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