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Daily Life at the Monastery
A daily "diary" by one of the monks of the monastery

I did not sleep well last night so I allowed myself to come toward the end of Matins, knowing that Father Alexey and the readers would do well without me. We also had a large influx of Georgians who went to the old church immediately after the Liturgy to read an Akathist and prayers in Georgian. They are certainly looking forward to the visit of Father Thomas and Bishop Sabba of the Georgian Orthodox Church who should be arriving at the end of next week. With the aid of a walker, Vladika Lazar walked from the cottage to the main building for the Agape meal and he also gave a Meleti. An hour or so before sunset, the sun appeared and shone brilliantly, with the green grass radiating health and energy.

We had a discussion whether the overcast sky was greyish or silvery, with the latter term sounding more attractive. Some men came to help remove the broken limbs and branches, and they will bring a chain saw the next time they come. Others spread a thick layer of gravel and even made a wide path from the cottage to the main building---no more sloshing through mud. Others came to help indoors and outside, even some whom we have not seen for years. Our Jeep has been repaired and is now in its place, waiting for the next time that it will be used.

Stavroula and Vladika Lazar drove to Mission and later to Abbotsford where they were locked out of their vehicle. This happens to most of us at one time or another, but it can be frustrating while we wait for help to arrive. I picked up Galina at the train stop, as she was coming to give Vladika a massage treatment for his back and shoulder. Now that the old monastery telephone number is once again in operation, the number of calls has increased unbelievably. There have been moments when all three phones [each with its own number] have been busy at the same time. You can imagine the confusion it can cause when information has to be passed on to all three callers.

Is it possible that one twelfth of this year has already gone by? Obviously it has and the rest will pass just as quickly. Now that my computer is located here in my cottage, I can use it whenever it is necessary without having to walk in the dark to the main building and sometimes almost freezing in the study room where the computer has been all these years. Last night, for example, I had a cup of dandelion root tea while typing the dairy entry, a most pleasant idea. For much of the day we could hearing a grinding sound coming from the yard of our neighbours who are some distance away. We found out that the broken limbs of their fruit trees that line the driveway were being ground, or chipped, thus creating splendid mulch. Perhaps we could do the same. Last Sunday some women asked if the ashes from the stove in the hall could be saved to be used in gardening this spring and summer.

We did not see the red or, as it was also called, blue moon, for it was dark and cloudy early in the morning, yet many say that they felt its influence. When I asked them if it was a positive or negative influence, they all chose the latter. But, let us be positive, for tomorrow is another day, and a new month, and may it be much better! At last our telephone problems have been partially resolved. The old number 604-826-9336 is now a cell phone that will be with Father Moses as soon as he can manage it. If he is anything like me, it will take some time. A woman called today and said that she had been trying for almost a month to get hold of us and could not. In the future we might get a different number for the land line. Gone are the days when we communicated by letter or telegram, and were content with that form of communication.

No doubt you have heard the expression "when it rains it pours" and that is exactly what happened today. For the last couple of days almost no one has come to see us, but today the sun appeared and a tidal wave overwhelmed us. For days and weeks we have been calling Shaw and Telus and each time there was some complication,so today they both appeared at the same time, one to repair our land line and the other to bring internet into the cottage. Each had three special trucks and vans when, all of a sudden the gravel truck appeared with a load of gravel to be dumped outside the cottage. As some of you know, there is little space for manouvering here, which caused some confusion. At the same time a number of people arrived bearing gifts---food, preserves, plates, cups, utensils for the Agape meals. The kids also showed up to set up the computers in the cottage which was a task in itself. It is evening now and all is calm. Svetlana telephoned from Volgograd and she sent her greetings to everyone, while Christian sent greetings from Germany and to inform us of his impending pilgrimage to Mount Athos.

I set out earlier than usual for my chiropractor's appointment, but little did I know that there would be a long wait to cross the bridge. In other words, I missed my appointment but they were able to take me in a little later. Meanwhile, it has been raining steadily all day and, in some parts of the coastal area, there has been flooding. I suppose that it is not quite so bad as having snow and icy roads. I took Vladika Lazar for a long ride along back roads and forest through pelting rain. There was no traffic and the entire episode reminded me of a spooky film. Needless to say we returned safely. Our neighbour Cliff dropped in for a visit as did Davey with his well behaved young dog.

I did not feel well during the night and so I spent hours just sitting in the armchair which meant that I came late for Matins, not that I was worried, knowing that Father Alexey would have begun the service on time. Although there were only three people at the readers' stand, the church itself was crowded. Reader Markel gave the sermon and, after the Liturgy, the Georgians went to the old church to read akathists and prayers in Georgian. By six o'clock everyone had left and, it is interesting to note, that Vladika Lazar had given a spiritual talk while Stavroula held peoples' interest about health and alternative means of healing.

I drove Vladika Lazar into town to the pharmacy where we walked around and made some purchases. Then I took him for a long ride up the valley and, even though it did not stop raining, he found it most enjoyable, not having been outdoors for a couple of days. At this moment Vladika is in the computer room putting up some things on the website and on his blog. It is encouraging to see him active like that and Stavroula says that he is in his element right now. I am glad that Father Alexey will serve Vespers tonight which means that I can be at the readers' stand to help with the singing.

Today we celebrated the memory of Saint Eleazar of Anzersk and it is almost twenty years since our own Father Eleazar reposed. He was a kind and gentle soul but, at times, completely unpredictable. I often think of him as "Junior", the nickname first given to him. Yet he was liked by all and, after so many years, his presence can still be felt. Memory eternal! Reader Ireneaos came to visit Vladika Lazar, just having returned from a long flight and still feeling the effects of jet lag. Stavroula, our own guardian angel, continues to help Vladika in his recovery and words cannot express our gratitude for her devotion and love.

We celebrate the memory of the Holy Marty Tatiana today; her life was truly amazing. In prerevolutionary Russia, this was an important day and especially so with university students. No doubt much of this has been preserved in present day Russia. More difficulties arose in our attempt to transfer our land line telephone to a mobile one, although we have been advised that all should be well in a day or two. Can you imagine, it is a week and a half, and the carrier has not done it because of some technical difficulties! Father Moses has consented to help anyone who is interested in singing with some basics in the art of singing. Do not be afraid if you feel that you cannot sing because, as many teachers have said, if you can talk, you can also sing.

What a surprise it was to receive a birthday cake for Vladika Lazar, even though the event is long past. However, quite by chance, Lija phoned and informed us that today is Thomas' birthday, so this cake, mailed here from the United States, has served both birthdays, Thomas' and Vladika's. Davey drove us to New Westminster so that Vladika could have an appointment with his surgeon, so it has been rather a tiring day. Moreover, we bought a blood pressure testing kit and began experimenting with it. So far the results are satisfactory. Thomas has his own kit and I think that Father Moses will agree to such testing.

So many of these entries of the diary contain medical news and reports, so today I shall begin with telling you that, no matter how many snow storms we might get in the near future, spring really is around the corner. Our first primrose, a bright yellow one, showed us how brave it has been to survive the icy storms and to be ready for its spring presentation. Then, I noticed that the periwinkles are peeking out from beneath their green evergreen leaves and, lastly, the hellebores, also known as the Christmas Rose, are popping out in various places in the flower garden. They are such welcome signs, especially for us, as we think that anything hovering arounmd the freezing point is winter at its worst.

We had to find a proper electrician to restore power to the workshop and the automatic outdoor lights that allow me to see clearly whenever I walk back to my place in the dark. We also had to deal with the new cell phone for the main building, as the former company was trying to delay us from changing to another company. The difficulty we had with our computers was resolved by Edward who quickly put things aright. Stavroula has done well in guiding us onto the path of proper nourishment, because this past holiday season has had too much emphasis on sweets that are delicious but certainly not good for one's health.

After Saturday night's visit to the hospital, I felt somewhat weak this morning and I decided to go yo Matins later than usual, knowing that Father Alexey would be there for the beginning of the service. By way of interest, the Matins/Liturgy service lasts for four hours, although the readers are suggesting that we add another hour to Matins so that the entire service would last for five hours. There was a terrible storm in Vancouver and the surrounding area, but we were missed almost entirely, and I think that a few people did not venture out for fear of the storm. As it was, about 70,000 people were left without power. At the end of the Liturgy, we had a Cross Procession to the water, where a number of people descended the ladder and plunged into the cold water.

We have had some computer problems lately, so I am writing this day's entry on Monday, which means that I have possibly forgotten what occurred on Saturday. This might not mean a loss of memory, just an overload of information to sort out! Vladika Lazar served a Slava for a Serbian family that has, as its family slava, the memory of Saint John the Baptist. Dragan had brought the kolach [beautifully decorated bread], wine and kolivo [boiled wheat] and, while Vladika served, I chanted. Dragan and his wife Katya, have been very close to us and we rejoiced on this important day for their family. During Vespers, I hurried to the Emergency Ward of the Mission Hospital, fearing that the pain I was experiencing was caused by an infection. Glory to God, there was no infection and I am still alive.

This wonderful feastday began with my awakening much earlier than I had expected. Since our readers were not able to be present on this work day, we had the Hours instead of Matins. Father Alexey served the Liturgy while I heard confessions that lasted until almost Communion time. I was pleased to find the church filling up with people, most of whom had Communion. The service of the Blessing of the Water followed after the Liturgy, then we had a procession to the water, although I was given a lift in a car, as it was too distant for me to walk. The water was blessed and one after another, people descended down the ladder into the stream, even a couple of preteen boys. We then returned and had our Agape meal, only to find out that other people kept arriving and going into the water. This happens every year on this day, and some people come in the darkness of the night to dip into the blessed water.

Just when I thought that all had been prepared for the Theophany service, I realized that there was not a single copy of the service of Blessing of Water. Father Moses finally found a copy somewhere and all that I had to do was to photocopy it, but I forgot how to copy both sides of a sheet of paper and the harder I tried, the less success I had. At last Vladika Lazar stepped in and did it for me. After the evening service, food was brought out onto the table but I was too tired to stay, and so I went to my cottage and went to bed early.

This has been a quiet day with not much activity. Thomas and Father Moses brought the Holy Water tank and other containers from the vestry in the old church that will be used for the blessing of water. This was part of the last minute preparations for the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Andy was joined by Mikhail in clearing our road, filling in the potholes and removing broken branches. I fear that this will take many weeks before all is returned to the previous state. Our hard working men were treated to hot borshch, but unfortunately I cannot remember who brought it.

What a spring like day it has been and, when Olga telephoned to say that the snowdrops [Galanthus nivalis] have appeared in their yard, our spirits rose even higher. Thomas drove Vladika Lazar to town where they spent a few hours. I was worried that it might have been exhausting, but Vladika felt elated just being in the lovely fresh air. Stavroula flew in from Virginia to help Vladika in any way that she could, bringing along some treatments. It was good to see her again, as she spent so much time late last year, daily helping Vladika.

The two snowmen the kids made for us yesterday were barely intact this morning, as most of the snow is gone. Vladika and I drove to Abbotsford to arrange for a mobile phone for the monastery rather than repairing the old land line that is often broken during icy storms. The number will remain the same [604-826-9336]. Moreover, we had a leisurely lunch, a pleasure that Vladika has not been able to enjoy for a long time, and he was able to walk a great distance in the mall, using his walker. When we returned, Gerry and Edward were here to tend to matters and to improve the internet reception in my cottage.

We have been caught in an odd situation: to the west of us it is sunny and warm but to the east it is still cool with a cold wind. We shall survive that, of course, although near my cottage it might be warm, yet only a few metres away it is quite the opposite. Liturgy today was, as usual, joyous, with a memorial service for several people, some of whom were Georgians, which meant that the Agape meal table was almost groaning with food, especially special Georgian dishes. We also served a thanksgiving moleben for the "old" new year, as today is 1 January on the traditional Orthodox calendar. Several new people came for the first time and we hope to see them again.

Our neighbour Andy brought us coffee before we were even up, a most kind gesture. We became excited to received a parcel from Russian containing copies of an anthology on the education of children. Thanks to Liudmila Guseva, who translated the article and who presented it for publication, we can now read this work with even greater interest. Father Alexey and Matushka Laura were here for Vespers, joining the few of us who came for the service and who walked through the slushy snow.

It is Vladika Lazar's birthday today, for he has turned seventy seven, a respectable age. Please pray for his health and that he may many more years ahead. It was somewhat confusing when we went to the pharmacy to renew his prescriptions, for they had not received any requests for renewals from any doctor, so I hope that there will be enough until the beginning of next week. A few people arrived after sunset to greet Vladika but actually both he and I were so tired that we scarcely got to see them, but the manifestation of their love and devotion was much appreciated.

Snow began falling this morning, as we were just barely below the freezing point, while to the west of us, nearer to the Pacific Ocean, there was only rain. The funeral service for Michael Apostolidis was designated to begin at one in the afternoon, yet some people had arrive at eleven. It was a lovely service followed by a memorial dinner consisting mainly of Greek dishes. After the meal, some of the people went to visit Vladika who remained in my cottage, as it was too slippery for him to be outdoors. It is still late afternoon and I am soon going to my cottage so, if anything of interest happens, I will not be able to mention it in this day's entry, not that I expect any earth shattering events to occur.

Again, I carry on with more health issues. Very early this morning Vladika, Sasha and I went to the hospital where I had another injection, this time in my left hip, in the hope that it would help me. Vladika, on the other hand, had an appointment with an oncologist who informed him of an upcoming surgery for cancer. Naturally it was the very last thing that we wanted to hear, but Vladika has accepted this stoically. Please pray for his health and healing. Here, during the day, some men cut, sawed and gathered limbs of trees, yet there is much more to be dealt with.

What a strange day this has been, beginning with fresh and reassuring air outdoors. Vladika Lazar and I drove to town where he was enthusiastically greeted by those who know him. Later in the day I drove Father Moses into town to take care of various matters. It was already dark by the rime we returned to the monastery and, as we drove up, we saw lights flashing: red, blue and amber. My heart sank for they were at my cottage and we hurried to see what had happened. There was an ambulance and a "fire and rescue" truck, causing me to become even more distraught, fearing that something had happened to Vladika. Indeed, there were half a dozen men surrounding Vladika, placing him on a stretcher t, and whisking him off the the Abbotsford Hospital. Sasha and some of our young men had been with Vladika when he suddenly became pale and dizzy, so Sasha, a former paramedic, called for an ambulance. It was fortunate that Vladika's cell phone was still in his pocket, for in a couple of hours he phoned to say that he had been through s series of tests and examinations and was now being released, having suffered from dehydration. And so, as you can see, it was a most unusual day.

I hurried to the Abbotsford Hospital for regular tests this morning and they confirmed that I am still alive, with probably a few more years ahead of me. Our visitors were treated to a power outage, but at least it did not last too long. Together with Vladika Lazar they made a broadcast and now are preparing for their departure tomorrow. After such a busy weekend, it has been nice to relax somewhat today. There are several huge garbage bags in the corridor all filled with this weekend's trash, and we forgot to ask people to take them away yesterday. Well, one way or another, they will be dealt with.

What a glorious Liturgy we had this morning with the church overflowing with worshippers. Vladika Lazar was helped into the church where he vested and served much of the Liturgy with servers helping him to move. He gave the sermon and, at the end of the service, he came out on the ambo to read the "God is with us" with everyone singing the refrain. The meal was sumptuous and the children's programme was a great success thanks to Lilia Timoshkina and her group of performers. I truly enjoyed this feast of the Nativity of Christ and all the love that was shared amongst all of us.

This has been a busy weekend and, since I am writing this entry late on Sunday 7 January, I am having difficulty remembering what had taken place yesterday. I was certain that there would not be many people present for the Vespers Liturgy, but, to my great surprise, a large crowd appeared and I had baked a rather small prosphora, yet there was enough for the antidoron. Because we did now know how many people to expect, the hall was not heated, so the dozens of people were crammed in the kitchen and small refectory for the evening meal. A Russian expression explains it well: although we are crowded, no one is offended!

What began as an ordinary morning turned into a full sized drama. Our friend David Goa flew in from Edmonton, then drove to the monastery on a rented car and, just as he was about to drive Vladika Lazar for an appointment with his doctor, visitors arrived bringing us furniture for the cottage. Their pickup truck was unable to negotiate a steep and icy incline, so that it blocked the path for David's car. What was to be done? The harder everyone tried, the more the pickup refused to cooperate, and there were only minutes left before the doctor's appointment. Suddenly, Thomas came speeding on the Jeep, like a hussar on the battlefield, using the four wheel drive, and he was able to bypass the pickup, even though the snow was deep. What relief we felt when David was able to take Vladika to town in the Jeep. Later, Davey [not to be confused with David] came with his huge truck and freed the pickup from its misery. Meanwhile, Zinaida had arranged the furniture in the cottage and cleaned up the kitchen in it, then she went to the main building where she made some hot soup to feed those who had been struggling in the cold. After sunset. David went into town to pick up Steve, who flew in from Chicago. Thus ended a stressful day, but one that had a silver lining!

I felt confident enough to drive this morning, so Father Moses and I went to town to make our purchases and to tend to various needs. It felt wonderful to be behind the steering wheel again without worrying about icy roads, although our monastery road is still covered in snow and ice, with a few small branches lying that have not yet been cleared away. Meanwhile, a group of women came and, like typical women, began to clean and polish whatever needed looking after, in addition to feeding us with food that they had brought. There have been a number of queries about the injection that I got in my hip yesterday. It seems to have improved but I was told that a couple of days should pass before anything is noticeable; at least there is almost no pain.

WEDNESDAY 3 JANUARY, 2018 I arose early to prepare for the trip to the Abbotsford Hospital where I was supposed to get an injection in the right hip, in the hope of easing the pain and discomfort. Thomas picked me up and we drove off, confident that we had left earlier than needed, but just as we approached the bridge over the Fraser River, we could see hundreds of cars standing idly. An automobile accident brought out at least ix police cars and traffic was reduced to one lane. From our side there were three lanes merging into one, and barely moving. I telephoned the hospital, although they were already aware of the situation. Finally traffic began to move and we arrived at the hospital only ten minutes late or so. I was given an injection in my right hip and was told that it would take a couple of days to notice any improvement. Upon arriving back at the monastery we found a number of people who came to visit Vladika Lazar, with Monica bringing us a large assortment of sheets, blankets, table cloths, etc. as well as several beautiful floor rugs: perhaps they should be called runners, but I am not sure where we will use them.

TUESDAY 2 JANUARY, 2018 We were joyously greeted by kind temperature that was slightly above freezing, consequently much of the ice began to disappear. Thomas drove me to the city, as several tasks had to be taken care of, and no matter wherever we went, the sight of the gradually melting ice and snow made us extremely happy. A new problem arose when we noticed a branch touching the transformer near our main building, giving off sparks. B.C. Hydro has been informed and, even though it is late in the evening, we hope that they will come to take care of this problem. Even though he is still recovering, Vladika Lazar quickly dealt with this problem by phoning for someone to come for a quick inspection.

MONDAY 1 JANUARY, 2018 This is the beginning of a new year. Let us pray that it will be a good one, full of peace, love and harmony. Before midnight last night, Dima telephoned me to say that the table was set and everyone was awaiting my arrival. Naturally, Vladika Lazar could not participate this year. A lenten, but abundant, supper was served, and at midnight we went to to the old church to serve a Moleben of thanksgiving, at the end of which each person was anointed with holy oil from Mount Athos. It was close to three by the time I went to bed, but the phone kept ringing after eight with people offering best wishes for the new year. Our neighbours kept dropping in to see if we were in need of any assistance. Meanwhile, the weather was still in its stubbornly cold state.

SUNDAY, 31 DECEMBER The last day of 2017 arrived with our part of the valley covered with sheets of ice, and each branch and twig had from half an inch to two inches of ice, sparkling in the bright sunlight as if we were in some winter wonderland. This beauty is difficult to describe unless it is seen in person. Some excellent photos were made, and perhaps we can post them, although I think that we lost our internet, just as we lostour telephone land line. Let us pray that everything returns to normal so that we can begin to deal with all the damage that has been caused. Part of Matins was served in darkness, as power was again lost. Reader Dmitry gave the sermon in Russian and he did excellently, so we have another reader who can sermonize, as well as Readers Irenaeus and Markel. Some people are still here at the monastery, waiting until midnight,in order to greet the new year. Let us give thanks for all that has transpired in this year, and pray that 2018 will be even better, and bringing us closer to Jesus Christ, the Theotokos and all the saints.

SATURDAY 30 DECEMBER, 2017 Much of the night was spent in darkness with no heat, but we survived. A couple of times during the day power would return for a while and then disappear again. Vespers was served in darkness with only a few candles to give us enough light to read and to chant. Several of us ate by candle light with a roaring fire in the hall's fireplace. Once power was restored in the evening, I asked Nicholas to bake a prosphora and I was amazed to see how well he could knead the dough. It should not be surprising, as his mother prepares prosphoras of various sizes in Edmonton and he observed how she did it. Two generators were found so that we could have some heat and light. Moreover, our neighbours came to our rescue, clearing our road of broken branches and branches heavily covered with ice, bent almost to the ground. Davey came late at night with a Bobcat to clear some of the parking area. How comforting it is to know that neighbours can be so loving and concerned about us.

FRIDAY 29 DECEMBER, 2017 I recently read that 28 December, 2017 was to be the worst day of the year and perhaps it was for us. We lost our power last night and only eight hours later was it returned. Meanwhile, lying in bed with no heat and the constant crashing of both limbs and trees, many of them falling on my roof too, there was a feeling of helplessness. Moreover, it was impossible to see anything in the dark. Finally, toward dawn, power was restored and I could assess the damage. Everything is covered with ice and icicles, my rooftop has branches and large limbs on it, a number of trees are lying across our road, the telephone line is down, the pole supporting the powerline to the old candle factory fell over, knocking over one of the memorial crosses, and weakening the main supporting pole. And, every few minutes, another ice-laden limb falls down with a loud crash. I have lived in this area for almost fifty years and never have I seen such a sight. God bless our neighbours who came out to make our road passable, to haul away the fallen limbs and trees, and many other things that we are not capable of doing. Moreover, we are expecting Vladika Lazar to return at midday and we wonder how it can be managed.

I am writing today's entry by hand because our power might be lost at any moment. There is constant crashing outdoors as ice that had formed on trees during the day's freezing rain, is now melting and crashing to the ground, sometimes breaking branches and even entire trees. Our lights have been flickering, a sign that we might lose power and thus I shall have to use the computer tomorrow. We had a nice visit today from people from Kazakhstan who left us with an assortment of Russian tea, actually Sri Lankan black tea. The power has just gone and now I am writing while holding a flashlight. The rest will appear in tomorrow's entry of the Daily Diary.

Snow had been forecast for this morning which is why I asked Nicholas to drive me for my monthly visit to the chiropractor. In fact, there was no snow, although it did begin on our way back. By evening we must have had a couple of inches of snow, beautiful though it is, I would still rather be without it. I almost forgot about today's baptism but we managed to heat the church before the people arrived for the baptism of two month old Michael who was not only cute, but he behaved marvelously. For some reason we had only one baptism in the month of December, although perhaps things might be different in the new year as we will have a double baptism on 2 January.

It is becoming tedious to mention the cold weather each day, so I shall say nothing more for the time being. Lia came and prepared another meal for us today and, as Nicholas said, he hates to have to return to Edmonton having gained a lot of weight. I must admit that we are not feasting, but basically eating just one meal a day which has been enough for us. Nicholas has volunteered to drive me in the Jeep to Abbotsford so that I can visit the clinic, as Thomas will still be at work early in the morning. We will take the Jeep in case there is a heavy snowfall, in which case it will be easier to drive up the hill rather than in the sedan.

We thought it was cold today until Nicholas, a pious Georgian young man from Edmonton, arrived and told us how cold it was in Alberta. It suddenly felt less cold and especially when I step out of my little house, where I see some snapdragons still defying the cold weather and showing off their pink and purple colours. We are pleased to have Nicholas with us for some time and he is anxious to do the physical work that we are no longer able to do. Lia, Olga and Natasha came to prepare a meal for us which they quickly did and which we enjoyed very much. Before they left we served a Moleben in the old church where it was fairly warm, and even cozy, if I can use that expression.

It was about 0 degrees centigrade this morning, although it felt much colder and colder still in church. We had a problem with the heating, as the circuit breaker was not obedient. Consequently the heater was turned on low and only when the church became filled with people did the temperature rise. Even though some of our readers were absent, Matins was served well. At the end of the Liturgy we served a memorial litany for the repose of Helen who had attended services here at the monastery for many years before moving back to Edmonton. Since tomorrow is not a feast day for traditional Orthodox Christians, some people have said that they would like to come to the monastery and do some work.

It was amazing to see what the first visitors brought for us, boxes and boxes of food, fresh fruit and vegetables, canned goods, oil, jam, and too many things to list, in addition to a huge bag of flour and a similar one of sugar. It felt as if we could open a small convenience store with all that they had brought. It was unexpected but much appreciated. Later some Canadians came for Vespers and then they stayed for a modest supper. We had such an enjoyable conversation with them and it was almost sad to see them leave. Father Moses and Thomas were left to clear up in the kitchen and, I am certain, they must have done a good job.

Thomas drove me to the Port Moody Hospital to visit Vladika Lazar. The drive was splendid with heavy fog encircling us not far from Mission, and gradually, as we rose higher, the fog dissipated and the open and blue sky, together with the bright sun, gladdened our hearts. Seraphim was already with Vladika, so the four of us went to the hospital cafeteria where we enjoyed veggie burgers which, according to Thomas, were tastier than those at Burger King! Vladika is waiting patiently for the procedure which is to take place next week and we pray that he will return to the monastery soon. We were informed today that Helen Kindrachuck, who had lived nearby for many years and was always here for services, suddenly died of a heart attack in Edmonton. Please pray for the repose of her soul.

We drove to town to do some necessary shopping and to the pharmacy and, while there, I could scarcely believe how people were scurrying about, with carts full of produce and gifts: it was like a mad beehive! Upon returning to the monastery we rejoiced in the calm haven that it is. We will be glad when this Christmas period is over and the world returns to its senses, then we can prepare for the actual Nativity of Jesus Christ without the saccharine carols and songs that are played loudly in the stores and even on the streets. We received the eleventh issue of the journal The Wheel, in which Vladika Lazar's article was presented as the first one. We also recently were sent a copy of the book Hellrazed which has an article by him as well.

There were many glum faces yesterday after the snow began to fall, with people worried about driving under such conditions. Today, on the other hand, smiles could be observed everywhere because of the bright sun melting the snow. It does not take much to cheer us up. I had forgotten about how snow can reveal certain mysteries and this morning I saw two sets of paw prints made by raccoons that had come up to my door, possibly to see it it could be opened [I hope not] and also up the stairs to the sliding door to examine it as well. We try to be careful with keeping all doors closed because the raccoons, cute as they are, can create havoc in homes, once they gain entry.

We had a beautiful Liturgy today on the feast of Saint Nicholas and I was able to serve it without becoming too tired. The main door to the church could not be opened, so those who tried entering by this door had to return to the monastery's main entrance. There was a problem with the dead bolt and a new has been purchased in the meantime. After the meal, some of the people hurried home as it began to snow. Some like to see snow lying on the ground, but personally, I could easily live without it, having been brought up in Saskatchewan where winters are long and cold. I must be careful with what I write, as since I mentioned that my umbrella was half broken, I have had people offering to bring me new ones.

I saw a number of odd looking birds perched high up in the trees along our road. They were not eagles or hawks, but something in between. I did mange to photograph one of them and perhaps someone will be able to identify it. As it happens, we do not always notice when people come to pray and light candles in the church and this happened this morning when I saw candles burning in the candle stands, and a giant sized dark chocolate lying on the kitchen table. It has been a temptation ever since: should it be eaten now? Since it is dark chocolate, it is supposed to be good for you, but then there are all the calories. Decisions, decisions, how do we make them?

In preparing to walk over to the church this morning, I decided to take an umbrella, as it was raining, not too heavily, but enough to get me wet. To my surprise, the umbrella opened with almost half of it broken, but that was the only one available at the moment, so I used it anyhow, strange as it looked. In remembering Saint Barbara, for it was her feast day today, we were strengthened in our faith by her relics in the church, no matter how small they are. Last Sunday we had an Orthodox student who is studying in Finland, today we had one who is studying in Norway, so Orthodox Scandinavia has been well represented. A number of people came forward for prayers for travel, as this is the time of year when many are travelling to visit their families, wherever they might be living.

It has been overcast all day, yet it felt like a day in spring. The air was fresh, damp, and perfectly still, with a quietness that one rarely experiences at this time of the year. At noon, some visitors, whom we had not seen for a long time, dropped in on their way back to Edmonton. Otherwise, no one else came until we began to serve Vespers. A stack of 2018 calendars was finally ready and brought to the hall so that people could pick them up tomorrow. I always strongly recommend that each family has a calendar, for it is so important in showing us the scriptural readings, the feast days and the fasting periods. With such a calendar, one will not have to ask, "By the way, Vladika, when the Great Lent begin?" or other similar questions.

Two groups of visitors brought us fruit and vegetables, consequently, for supper we had, among other things, braised asparagus and steamed Brussels sprouts. I realize that this is a monastery and not an upscale restaurant, but I have the feeling that some of the best restaurants would not have prepared these two vegetables any better. Another visitor brought a huge box of children's clothing and another with toys. They will all be gone is a day or two. Jon has been diligently working on a series of ramps that would enable Vladika Lazar to ride directly into the computer room without anyones's assistance.

I had my broken tooth extracted today by an exceptionally professional and kind dentist who even took care of another tooth by polishing a rough spot on it. There was some concern, as there was bleeding for a long time and the cotton swabs did not help much. I suddenly recalled that honey is supposed to help in such conditions so I took a spoonful of special honey that Marina gave us, and, in a matter of minutes the bleeding almost completely ended. Half an hour later, I took another spoonful and the bleeding had completely stopped. Yesterday I wrote a bit about nature and neglected to say that we still have hummingbirds with us. Anna's hummingbirds used to be seen in winter no farther than northern California, but now they winter over even in British Columbia.

Today has been sunny and warm, the last of such days, as tomorrow will bring us rain that will continue for a week or so. I went for a walk on the monastery grounds and was delighted to see a number of flowers still blooming: asters, snap dragons, periwinkles, and some others, the names of which I do not know. It is difficult to realize that, here in Canada in the middle of December, we still have a touch of late autumn with colourful flowers. Many thanks to readers of this diary who have sent letters, messages and greetings. I hope that you do not find it to be too dull and repetitive, but many of you say that this diary keeps you in touch with the monastery, and this is what we like to hear, for all of your are dear to our hearts.

While flossing my teeth last night, the filling fell out of one of the teeth, which did not surprise me, as the last dentist I had visited was not very impressive in his work or his behaviour. It was fortunate that a dental clinic was able to receive me on an emergency basis and they removed the sharp edge of the tooth, but I will have to have it extracted on Thursday. What appeared to be a major distraction is now going to be nothing more than a memory. Vladika's MRI showed exactly where and how he got his stroke; it was from a blood clot in the brain, so now he is getting blood thinners and no doubt he will be using them forever. Is it not amazing what modern technology can do and discover? I apologize for letting the entries in this diary dwell so much on our health issues, but anyone who is aging will understand that much of our time and conversation is devoted to aging and health [or lack of it].

It was a struggle to get up at a time when it seemed to be the middle of the night to prepare to drive to another hospital for Vladika Lazar to get a new MRI test. Now that I have my own personal handicap parking card, I was able to park almost at the entrance to the hospital. After the procedure, we stopped to have a small breakfast at a restaurant where loud Christmas music was being played. Later in the day, Thomas drove Vladika to the former hospital for another examination where he will then be released and allowed to return to the monastery. Not having had much sleep last night, I have felt like a robot, and one that keeps dozing off.

Helping Vladika Lazar get ready for church this morning made me a little late for Matins, however, when it came time for the prokemenon for the reading of the Gospel, I suddenly felt intense pain in my left leg and I could not carry on, so I asked the readers to continue without me. Thomas then brought a walker for me which I used through much of the Liturgy, so both Vladika and I were seated, one in a wheelchair, the other on a four wheel walker. Much of the Liturgy was left for Father Alexey to serve, while Vladika gave the sermon. Many of those present for the service stayed for the Agape meal, while a group of Georgians went to the old church to read an Akathist. Igor and Markel put up hand rails in the various rooms in the cottage to make it easier for Vladika to walk with confidence.

Vladika Lazar woke up this morning and said that he slept so soundly all night, whereas at the hospital there are sounds heard night and day. Besides, he was home and that makes all the difference. As well, he is getting used to riding on the scooter, although it took some practice to back up and to squeeze through narrow doors, but it is a blessing for him to have this marvellous machine. I took him for a ride this afternoon when the sun was at its brightest and, along the way, we witnessed dozens of people with professional looking cameras, photographing eagles that were resting near the water in their annual feasting on salmon.

We recently had a visitor from the United States who was amazed at the number of "health food" items he saw, even in ordinary stores. The latest one I saw was Almond Egg Nogg, a purely lenten version of ordinary egg nog. Some people are against such substitutes, although we must remember that, even in olden times, many substitutes were used. Father Moses is pleased that he can have grilled cheese sandwiches made with smoked tofu instead of cheese. Vladika Lazar is on his way back to the monastery for three days and he should arrive with Thomas in a few minutes. Thank you, Mary from Toronto, for your kind words and donation; our prayers are with you.

THURSDAY 7 DECEMBER 2017 When I stepped outside this morning, the first thing I noticed was the bright sun, while the second was that Davey had been here with a load of gravel that was emptied in one corner of my cottage where the foundation had begun to sink a few years ago and, in addition, he straightened out the damaged gutter and hooked it to the downspout. All this made me happy, to say the least. Shopping for provisions at our largest store in Mission was quite an adventure, as they have moved everything around. Before it was simple to find whatever was needed, but now it is all topsy-turvy. I must send off this diary entry because people have arrived for prayers and I cannot keep them waiting.

How beautiful this valley can be, as Father Moses and I thought while we drove down our highway. We intended to just stop at the post office to pick up any mail that we might have received, but because it was sunny, we decided to take a drive to a neighbouring village, Deroche. Along the way we marvelled at the mountains, covered with green fir trees and the summits white with newly fallen snow. While at Deroche, we stopped at the local store and visited with Elsie, our former post mistress here in Dewdney, then we drove on a back road until we finally reached the end and had to turn back. We could also see the distant mountains where we formerly lived, all white with the early winter snow. We returned to the monastery in time to receive some visitors.

Sorin came early in the morning with two of his friends, both plumbers, to assess the situation in the konak building. He then telephone me to say that the men had a general idea of where the problem lay, but this is not the right time to be digging, so the matter has been postponed, for a while at least. The sun shone brightly all day and, at noon, Father Moses and I went to Mission to attend to a number of errands, and we certainly did enjoy the bright sun, almost being blinded by it, but with no complaints. Vladika Lazar informed me that the hospital is sending him home this Friday and will formally release him on Monday, as they have need of his bed for other stroke patients. It will take us a bit of getting used to having him here at the monastery, although we certainly are looking forward to that with great enthusiasm.

At about seven thirty this morning we had a power failure, but there was no need to panic, as all that was required was some hot water for the Liturgy. Fortunately, I have a small propane stove, if it can even be called that, but it is sufficient to heat some water that was taken to church in a thermos bottle. Minutes before the service was to begin, power was restored and all went well after that. Everyone stayed for the noon meal on this feast day and some of us sat and visited with each other until the middle of the afternoon. The weather also has been kind to us, staying above zero, and much sunny weather is forecast for the rest of the week.

I arrived in church somewhat late, as I had to assist Vladika in getting ready, although he could dress himself, even being able to tie his shoe laces. The people were glad to see him once again in church and he gave the sermon. Once again there was much discussion about what to do for Vladika's return and I am certain that all will be well. Elia drove him back to the hospital where he will be getting special therapy for the entire week. We served Great Vespers on the eve of the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple and, although there were few of us present, the singing was very good.

Thomas left early to bring Vladika Lazar to the monastery on a weekend pass. For lunch he requested some old fashioned slow cooking rolled oats which he enjoyed immensely, even though porridge is served at the hospital, it is watery and over cooked. He felt enthused at being back at the monastery even though it was for an overnight visit. My cottage has been transformed totally, with the back bedroom empty except for a bed, a bedside table, and a chair, making it look like a hospital room, but much friendlier. This room was formerly a work area, so to speak, and it had hundreds of items, but now I shall have difficulty in finding things that were put away.

Two prosphoras were baked today, one for Sunday and one for Monday for the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple. While they were still in the oven, Alexey and Irina arrived to do some work. Irina peeked into the oven and thought that the prosphoras were ready to take out, but I felt that they needed the full time allotted to their baking. However, I did remove them earlier than usual and now I am anxious to find out how they baked, but I will find out only when I cut them at the Proskomedia on Sunday. Since Irina brought a large pot of lenten borshch and cabbage and mushroom piroshki, we sat down to a hearty meal and then Alexey went to clean out the gutters on my little cottage. Thomas and Father Moses drove to Abbotsford where the local Red Cross office allowed us to borrow some things for Vladika's return to the monastery.

Liya, Natalia, and Stas came to finish the room we have been preparing for Vladika Lazar. The few remaining articles were taken out, the single bed was brought from the guest room, the foundation mattress and the actual mattress were carried over, then new sheets, pillow cases and blankets were placed upon the bed, thus completing what had to be done. A proper floor lamp will be brought tomorrow, and the room will be ready for his arrival. Meanwhile, Oscar, Galina and Daljeet came to work on the carpeting on the back stairs and to stretch the carpet in the new church. After having had supper, the men returned to their work with the carpets while I excused myself to prepare today's entry for the Daily Diary and to return to my place for some rest.

A large number of people arrived this morning for a memorial service held for Vitaly, on the fortieth day of his repose. We blessed a memorial cross outdoors, then proceeded to the refectory for a memorial meal. It was so crowded that some had to stand and, while we were eating, Oscar came with his assistant to lay the carpeting on the stairs with which they carried on till mid afternoon. Vladika Lazar telephoned us to say that he was told that he had to come back to the monastery and stay overnight this weekend, as part of the preparation for his return home. We shall spend the next two days making certain that all is in place for his overnight visit.

We were informed by the special plumbing company that our problem with water is complicated and that there are two ways of dealing with this problem, each of which will cost many thousands of dollars. That was not what we wanted to hear but, upon thinking it over, a few others ideas came up and we shall see if they can be materialized. In the meantime, poor Father Moses will have to continue carrying buckets of water to the second floor of the smaller residence which is known as a "konak", or a residence for monks. Sorin came after work and quickly replaced a troublesome tap so that we shall not have any problems with it freezing when the weather plunges below zero. Vladika Lazar also wanted him to test the scooter which Sorin did. After trying to figure out how to make it move, it began to run wonderfully, even going up the ramp to the front door of the new church.

I appreciated being driven to Abbotsford by Thomas for my regular monthly appointment for spinal decompression. At noon he also drove me to the hospital where a meeting with the hospital staff and several of our own people was organized to prepare for Vladika's return to the monastery. Everything went well and now we are in the process of implementing any suggestions the staff made, and we are so grateful for the help offered and promised by our loving people. In our absence, the plumbing specialists arrived and made some preparations but left us no information, so no doubt they will return soon and there will be water in the residence once again. Since today is the last day before the beginning of the Nativity Fast, or as it is known amongst the common folk, the Phillip Fast, we ate quite a few dairy products that we shall not be having until the beginning of January .

There was a feeling of excitement in church this morning, knowing that Vladika Lazar was going to arrive for the Liturgy. Elia and Luke brought him during Matins where he stayed in the altar for the rest of the service and for Liturgy. It was touching to hear him serve one of the little litanies, and his presence in the altar was most meaningful for us. Since this Sunday was the last of the month and the Liturgy was served in Church Slavonic, Father Alexey gave the sermon, first in Russian and then in English, and I felt at ease, knowing that such assistance surrounded me. Vladika came down to the hall with the aid of some of the strong men where he blessed the food and he could spend time with the many people who surrounded him, getting his blessing while kissing and embracing him. Such is the love that our parishioners have for him! I telephoned him after he had returned to the hospital and his voice reflected the joy he had experienced in being at the monastery for the service. Let us pray that he can return here in the near future.

Our first visitors brought us an icon they had commissioned in Moscow of Saint George and Saint Fotini, done in a perfect canonical style, and framed in a beautiful frame. It is on the Holy Table, waiting to be blessed tomorrow. Then we baptized little Nicole [Nika] who resembled a tiny doll but who behaved wonderfully. After that we had other visitors until I had time to bake another prosphora, for I thought that yesterday's was too small. A number of people came for Vespers, and stayed for an abundant supper. We were thrilled to hear that Vladika Lazar served Vespers at the hospital chapel, and Elena told me that he was beaming with joy at being able to serve once again. God willing, he will be brought tomorrow morning for the Liturgy and it will be a blessing for all of us to see him in church again where he belongs.

Thomas drove me to Mission for an appointment with my doctor, then we hurried back to the monastery, as we were expecting Maxim to visit us. We had an interesting, but brief, visit with him. Meanwhile Daljeet had finished the stairs in preparation for the carpeting that will be put down next week. Sorin came after work to try to repair a troublesome tap and, indeed, it proved to be a problem, so he will work on it next week. Davey repaired the sedan that had suffered from the neighbour's rough road and suddenly everything looks much rosier and brighter, now that all this work has been done, although there is much more to be finished. I baked a prosphora for Sunday but the consensus is that it is too small, so I shall have to make another one tomorrow. This is what can happen when you do not follow a specific recipe.

For two days we have had what might be called a mild "Pineapple Express" although it is usually accompanied by strong winds and heavy rain. Perhaps we could call this one a "Mango Express". There was a terrible accident on the main highway east of us and, therefore, our secondary highway has been crowded with vehicles making a detour. In fact, we were caught in that and it took a great length of time to reach Mission. Galina and Oscar were here to work on the carpeting of the stairs and I made it more difficult by suggesting a darker colour so they shall bring some samples tomorrow. Another problem arose with my car after having visited the neighbours last evening when their rough road, filled with large rocks, seems to have done some mischief to the underside of the car. No doubt it is difficult to live without problems! On the other hand, there have been so many telephone calls offering help and comfort from all our dear friends.

Only a few minutes past the designated time, a truck pulled up to empty the cesspool and, in no more than thirty minutes, the job was completed. The young man was knowledgeable and helpful, and gave us some sound advice. The only negative aspect was the price attached to this service, although I did ask for, and received, a senior citizen's discount. Quite unexpectedly, our neighbours invited us for supper and we felt obliged to go since we had not been to their house in all these years. It was pleasant, but suddenly I received a telephone call from the Georgians who had arrived to serve an Akathist to the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers of the sixth century who came to Georgia to strengthen Christianity and to build monasteries. We soon returned to the monastery and joined in the service.

Our pest control volunteer made a thorough check of our buildings and was quite satisfied that all was well. The rest of the day we waited for the well and plumbing crew to arrive but no one came. Let us hope that they will be here tomorrow. While on this subject, we expect another crew to come tomorrow to pump out the cesspool so, as you can see, there is much plumbing on our mind these days. We were sorry to hear that Mike had a heart attack and was rushed to the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster where he is under intensive care. Please remember him in your prayers and also Glyko, his wife, who has been under tremendous stress. I began painting the wooden cross, about six feet high, that Thomas will put up in the memory of Vitaly who will be remembered next week on the occasion of the fortieth day after his death. Vladika Lazar walked with a walker today for the first time and that lifted his spirits immensely.

Yesterday was a tiring day and, consequently, I did not sleep well, so I allowed myself to sleep in a little this morning. Father Moses' nephew, who teaches at a university in Texas, arrived for a brief visit with another professor who teaches with him. They were in Vancouver for a conference and then drove here to visit with Father Moses who went with them to Harrison Hot Springs which they adored and hope to return there one day. I was very glad for Father Moses because, although he comes from a large family, this was the first one to visit him here in British Columbia. It was also good to hear from Reader Nicholas who lives in Salt Lake City and whom we have known, together with his family, for many, many years.

It has been raining, or at least drizzling, all day but in a rather pleasant way. I was glad to see the people who came for the Liturgy and, moreover, glad that Father Alexey was here to assist me, for I had difficulty with my legs and, at times, felt that I could scarcely stand. After the service, a group of Georgians went to the old church to read an Akathist in Georgian. Later, half a dozen people, if not more, went to my house to clean out the extra room which had been crammed with countless items and everything was moved so that now the room can be cleaned from top to bottom. Since it is my name day, people sang "Many Years" for me and presented me with beautiful bouquets of flowers, something that I am not accustomed to receiving.

Thomas drove me into town this morning where we bought a few items at a builders' supply store: a litre of exterior white paint for the memorial cross that will be put up next week, a few paint brushes and also a spike that is pounded into the ground to support the large cross. We also bought two light tubes for the kitchen but later realized that they were the wrong kind, so we shall return them on Monday. The day has been quiet with no one coming to visit us until Vespers. This weekend will be celebrated as a time for observing eagles that gather by the hundreds, if now thousands about thirty miles from us. People come from all around the world to observe this phenomenon but we shall not be seeing it, as tomorrow is a day entirely dedicated to the Liturgy and fellowship after.

Today gave us the opportunity to enjoy the sun and warm air which were invigorating. One of our neighbours was to visit us this afternoon, but he did not show up. A huge pot of nourishing soup has been prepared for supper, after which Father Moses and I will continue to clean out the extra bedroom. Sunday's prosphora was baked and some leftover flour [perhaps with some added ingredients] from the delicious bread that the Georgian women baked on Sunday was still in a bowl, so I added a few ingredients and baked a superb bread that was quickly consumed, with only a few crumbs left on the plate.

Father Moses and I took upon ourselves a tiring but necessary job this day by beginning to clear out the extra bedroom in my house that had been used all these years as a working area for crafts, sewing, repairing of vestments, etc. The shelves that stretch along an entire wall were crammed with countless objects, icon prints, photographs, and other things, too numerous to mention. We have possibly cleared out one third of the room with much more left but, once done, some women will clean, scrub and polish it into a new life so that Vladika Lazar can return to it with comfort and ease. I was pleased that much of the material that had to be discarded could be recycled rather than added to ordinary trash.

I have had to take over most of the tasks that had been done by Vladika earlier and am now getting used to them, although I had no idea of how much time he had spent in doing them. As an example, I had to drive into town twice today to accomplish various tasks and errands but, really, I am glad that I am able to do them. Another reviewing of the 2018 calendar showed a few errors that have to be corrected and then all will be ready for printing. When I went to our local post office to mail a few items, I was met outside by a drunken and dishevelled middle aged man who proved to be polite, holding the door open for me, calling me "sir" but also wondering if I could offer him a "smoke" while holding a can of beer in his other hand. I felt sorry for the post mistress who had to deal with this man, but our rural neighbours are always kind and know how to deal with people properly.

I dealt with two specialists today, the first one whom I have visited many times and who is always helpful, and the second one with whom I shall have an appointment only in a few months, so overbooked is he, but since he is known to be very good, perhaps I shall have to simply wait about the problem with the right hip, and meanwhile use my canes. The Jeep is back with its winter tires on in preparation for any snowfalls that we might have this winter. The main problem usually is the very last part of our road leading onto the main road, as there is a steep incline and that is where we often get stuck. Thomas showed me where part of the gutter that collects rain that runs off the roof at my house had been twisted off, as if some large animal had climbed the roof and somehow loosened it, or tore it. It is not pleasant to think that a bear or some raccoons have been dancing on my roof top!

We visited with our Georgian visitors until they left to visit Vladika Lazar on their way to the airport to fly back to Toronto. It was a blessing to have had them over the weekend and we hope to see them again in the future. Thomas drove me to the hospital to see Vladika who looked good. He has begun to eat with his right hand and today he brushed his teeth with the same hand which shows his improvement. While sitting with him, we were pleasantly surprised to see one of our parishioners, Elena Caliga, who was on duty in that ward. She and her sister were physicians in Moldova, and when they moved to Canada, they first studied English and then trained as nurses. Now they are both working in the hospital where Vladika is located. Both had been away on vacation and Elena just returned while her sister Olga is due back at work in a day or two. It is comforting for both Vladika and us to know that the two of them can drop in to see him even if they are working in a different ward.

I arose early to prepare for the Matins service which began with two readers present, but soon others arrived so that it was served smoothly and in good order. Father Alexey was present to assist me, as I have trouble with censing, that is, walking without my cane for fear of losing my balance. In many others ways he was of great help. Meanwhile, the old church or Church of the Holy Relics was the site of another Liturgy, this once served in the Georgian Language with Father Thomas officiating. When we descended to the hall, we had to wait for a while until the Georgians had completed their service , then the food was blessed in English, Slavonic and Georgian. It was a great day with our spirits uplifted and people departed, thanking each other for this blessed day.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada when we are reminded of those who lost their lives in order that we might be able to live freely. But we also had a baptism for four month old Daniel, a cute baby who smiled through most of the service. Later some kind women arrived with a scooter for Vladika Lazar, a stylish vehicle black and red in colour and one that should be of great use to him and perhaps even me. They had to arrive somewhat late so that some men could unload the scooter. Father Thomas, the Georgian priest from Toronto, arrived with his matushka, Tamara, late at night but I had already sent him a message on how to let themselves in.

We were able to enjoy today's balmy weather before the rains start again. I remember what some relatives of mine said when they moved here to the West Coast about seventy years ago---do not complain about rain in winter because it means that the temperature is above zero. The same plumbing company that dug a well for us years ago and did other work arrived at noon to look at the problem and they concluded that their supervisor should come and assess the situation, with possibly having to dig a new well. Soon after, Natalia and Svetlana came, bearing boxes and bags of food to feed us, so we all had a good meal after which they did as much cleaning as was possible before having to leave for home.

At last the wind stopped blowing and a gentle rain settled upon us which, of course, meant that it had become warmer. The day itself has been quiet with no one coming to see us, nor have we ventured out. On the other hand, the telephone has been ringing constantly all day. We did some final cleaning in the altar of the old church, as there will be a liturgy served there on Sunday, and I was reminded, once again, how large the altar is. I must remember to ask Thomas to hang some more of the many icons we have, in particular the hand painted ones. Vielen dank Christian for your emails from Germany.

It has been another blustery day, yet by early evening the wind had calmed down. I walked about to see what flowers there might still be left among the living and, it is interesting to note, one rose is still struggling bravely, as are the ever hardy periwinkles, some asters, and a few others too distant for me to identify. I recall that when we moved here in November 1991, there was still a white rose blooming this day, 8 November. That rose has long since gone, but not the memory of it. Father Moses and I went to our local post office to mail some letters and we decided to linger for a while and to have a cup of coffee, just as the local residents do. Before long our friend Davey came in and joined us for this first time for us to have coffee in an old fashioned post office and general store.

Father Moses and I had an early start for the sudden funeral that we had to serve for an elderly Romanian woman here in Mission, whose priest in New Westminster was unable to be present for this service. Only a few people were present, but it felt simple, dignified and touching. After that we spent considerable time in hurrying from one place to another to complete the tasks that were necessary before returning to the monastery. The hospital telephoned to ask for clothes to be brought for Vladika so that he could wear them instead of the hospital attire. The east wind keeps blowing cold air into our valley, although it is supposed to begin raining in a day or two and then the temperature should rise a little at least.

It is amazing how a bright and sunny day can improve one's disposition and such a day it was today. Thomas drove me to visit Vladika Lazar at the hospital and, because it is some distance to walk to his ward, Thomas pushed me in a wheel chair, a most interesting experience. We shall have to take some of Vladika's clothing to the hospital, as they want him to be wearing ordinary clothing rather than hospital attire. Psychologically speaking this is very important. Actually, Vladika has asked there be fewer visitors, as at times the ward is too crowded and it can be tiring, but it does show how much our people love him.

It has been a cold day with the wind blowing and howling, and the church was frigid when we began Matins, yet by the end of the Liturgy it was actually quite hot inside and the wind was ignored by most of us. We had a memorial service for Valentina, followed by a memorial meal with a large crowd present, as she was well known and well loved. An Akathist to the Kazan Mother of God was served, an impromptu singing rehearsal carried out, and lengthy discussions were held on various topics. Thomas turned off all the outside taps to prevent them from freezing if it gets any colder. Such a full and rewarding day leaves us thinking of how blessed we are with so many kind and loving people surrounding us, and may God bless every one of them.

Jon drove me to the hospital to see Vladika Lazar who, when we arrived, was sitting in a wheel chair and moving himself about. Moments later Svetlana and Gregory showed up bringing Vladiaka a nourishing lunch. They own a nearby restaurant and also a European Delicatessen store, so the food was especially nourishing. Actually, a number of ladies have arranged to bring Vladika breakfast, lunch and dinner, making certain that he gets only the food that is required. He also had his first shower since ending up in the hospital and, I am certain, it must have felt glorious. I brought along his hearing aids so that he could hear better and he was almost able to insert one with his weak right hand. Things are progressing. There must be at least a dozen people who regularly come to help Vladika with his meals and everything else in general. We also have to thank Stavroula who spent hours each day with Vladika.

I had to go to town to deal with matters that arise from time to time and, after they were completed, I met with Elia and Gerasimos. We had a delightful Chinese lunch and sat and chatted for an hour if not more. Later in the afternoon a group of people arrived, all willing to work at anything that had to be done. Consequently, furniture was moved, rooms cleaned, floors vacuumed and even mopped, while others prepared food for the memorial meal. We served a memorial panikhida for Valentia, the wife of Sergey and mother of Dima, who reposed a year ago. It was a moving service after which we went into the refectory and sat down to the memorial meal. We all miss Valentina and may God rest her soul.

It has been overcast all day with almost a menacing feeling, one that we did not want to see, but one that we must accept. I ventured out of my haven just once this day and, after completing today's entry for the diary, I shall hurry back to my comfortable abode. A lot of paper work was done, and my ryasa partially restored. Considering that it is at least thirty five years old, it has worn well. Vladika Lazar is worried about how we are managing here at the monastery, but so far we have been able to cope with everything. I did ask our neighbour Andy to remove a dead branch that was leaning against the power line, and I hope that he was able to do it. It is almost dusk and snow has begun to fall, much to Father Moses' disappointment, and mine also, for we tend to think that we live in a semitropical climate or something close to that.

The first day of November has arrived and we were free of any commotion last night when children [and adults] went "trick or treating," I suppose mainly because we are far off the main road. Vladika Lazar is being treated well in the Port Moody hospital and already he is going through various therapies and exercises. As well, people have been taking him special food they prepared at home, although he can eat only so much. I was mistaken in saying that Stavroula had left yesterday, no, she left late this afternoon after having run many errands and feeling that she did all that she possibly could. I must repeat that she was truly a guardian angel and did very much to help Vladika. By the way, Vladika asked me to remind people about road salt. He mentioned this a couple of weeks ago and no one has brought any. Please bring bags of road salt, not table salt, that we will need when there is snow and ice.

This morning Vladika Lazar was moved to the hospital in Port Moody and, although I have not yet been there, Stavroula told me that the Rehab section that he is in is beautiful , light and cheery, with a splendid view of the trees outside. In preparation for his eventual return to the monastery, Sorin and Stavroula [an excellent architect] looked over the guest room and decided what changes have to be made to comply with the requirements to enable Vladika to return. What we really need now are some volunteers who know how to work with renovations. If any of you can volunteer, please email Sorin at---gstanese@gmail.com Stavroula, who flew here from Washington D.D., although she lives in Virginia, has spent each day, practically from early morning until late evening, sitting with Vladika, massaging his arm and leg and doing everything possible to bring him back to health. For this,we are eternally grateful. Please remember that if you visit Vladika, he is not allowed to have any bread, or rice, or potatoes, or anything with sugar. His doctor told me to follow the same diet.

The sun rises later each day and, when I awoke this morning, it was completely back. I hurried [in a somewhat slow manner] to get ready and drive to Abbotsford to see the chiropractor who always greets me with a board smile and a firm handshake. I then stopped at the key-making shop to have some extra keys made, and there I learned how to say "goodbye" in Afrikaans---totsiens, while in Zulu it is---hambagathle. Vladika Lazar looks better all the time and tomorrow he will be moved to an intensive therapy place in Port Moody which is fairly distant from the monastery, but he will be in expert hands and surrounded by many of our parishioners. We had two sets of plumbers come and go and, I hope, something will be resolved soon.

Sundays should probably have the most interesting entries, yet they tend to be brief, partially because by evening I am tired and do not have the energy to concentrate on the entries. I have tried to leave it until Monday morning but it does not seem to work. At any rate, we had Father Alexey with us today and he was of great help, for I was not able to do much censing and he, being young and hale, could do all of that easily. Reader Markel gave the sermon in Russian which was well received by everyone. Of course, Vladika Lazar had countless visitors throughout the day which tired him yet, at the same time, he was encouraged by the love shown by them. Since the church is filled with dozens of red and white roses, we must remember to mist them daily to keep them as fresh as possible.

The weather could not be better and, for the time being, it should remain that way. The bereaved family brought all the flowers that were at yesterday's funeral: two gigantic arrangement of red roses and two of white roses, a long one of red roses that had been on top of the coffin, and several smaller vases full of the most wonderful flowers. One person who came for Vespers was taken aback, fearing that all the flowers meant that one of us had departed this life. Vladika Lazar is continuing to improve and today he was even able to hold a pen in his right hand and to write his name, although it was not exactly legible. I picked some raspberries this afternoon, perhaps the last ones of this year, and also a couple of figs and, with that, one can say that the end of summer has come.

Although I thought that all had been prepared for today's funeral, I nevertheless almost forgot to take my outer ryassa. Father Moses and I set out for Maple Ridge, a city about thirty five minutes away from the monastery to serve a funeral for a man who suddenly died of a heart attack. Both of us walked in with our canes and looked over what had been arranged. The funeral was served in both English and Church Slavonic and, given the fact that both of us were wobbly on our feet, all went well. Later we went the the family home for a memorial dinner where the tables were covered with a multitude of dishes, all of which were delicious. In fact, they sent huge portions back with us to the monastery. Vasile and Lenuta were here from Edmonton to pick up all the candle stubs that had accumulated over the months.

I was unable to write an entry for Thursday's diary, so I am doing it on Friday instead. The trouble with that is that I seem to have forgotten what took place yesterday. It is almost like a memory relapse, although I can say with certainty that some kind people came in the early evening and prepared a lovely meal for all of us. And, perhaps that is enough to say for this day's entry.

I finally decided today that I will no longer procrastinate and, instead, I would visit my doctor to complain about my troublesome hip. His clinic has just moved into a new building next to the hospital, making it very convenient for many procedures. He will refer me to the best specialist and one whom he has trusted, meanwhile, he made me go across the lot to the hospital for x-rays. It was so simple; I walked up to the desk with my paper and was shown to the waiting rooms for x-rays. In a couple of moments I was taken to be x-rayed, and that was all there was to that. My doctor also gave me a form to fill out to receive a handicap permit to allow me to park in certain areas reserved for such handicapped people. Vladika Lazar continues to be in good spirits and is waiting for a free spot in rehabilitation where they will work on him to regain his health.

Each day is a struggle for us here at the monastery in the absence of Vladika Lazar, yet it is amazing how he can give directions while still lying in the hospital for whatever has to be done, such as ordering more gravel for our road and things of that nature. In a moment of weakness, I admitted that having to deal with everything was getting me down and, in minutes, Vladika phoned others asking them to offer their help. I had to refuse some requests to visit us, as I was too tired, although Elena drove quite some distance to bring us some pain relieving medication, I was also proud of Father Moses who volunteered to prepare supper which turned out to be very good.

Perhaps we could call this day a day of hospitals. When I arrived at the Mission Hospital, Vladika was sitting in the small cafe with our neighbour Andy. I joined them and soon Stavroula came, after which I drove to the Abbotsford Hospsital where I was due for some tests. While waiting in a hospital gown, I panicked, realizing that I had not paid for the parking, so I made a quick appeal to the nurse, asking for advice. Her answer was just what I needed---no one was being charged for parking today because the machines would not accept credit cards, so everyone had free parking. In the afternoon Jon continued working on the plumbing and on Father Moses' computer , while Thomas and Sasha did a number of necessary tasks, as did Sorin when he came after work. I almost had another panic attack when I saw that our tractor was missing and many negative thoughts shot through my mind until I saw our neighbour Perry, who infosrmed me that they had moved the tractor to the barn to keep it out of the rainy weather.

A number of us were not too well this morning and it was noticeable with Reader Markel beginning by himself. As it happened, Reader Sorin had teeth extracted yesterday and thus was in plenty of pain, while Reader Irenaous just had his gall bladder removed which also caused him pain, nevertheless, we all were present. There were times when I had to cut back on the censing, as it was difficult for me to walk and, in fact, I almost stumbled once. Aside from these woes, the Liturgy was great but there was no Meleti or anything else after the Agape meal. We welcomed some newcomers, then many people went to the hospital to visit Vladika Lazar. He was fortunate to be given a small private room which was overflowing with visitors and Stavroula prepared supper for him with steamed salmon and steamed broccoli which pleased him immensely.

At lunch time I joined Stavroula and Vladika Lazar at the hospital where they were waiting for me at the little cafe, with Vladika sitting in his wheelchair. Meanwhile, Monica had brought a bouquet of flowers from her garden, freshly made cottage cheese and a pineapple compot for Vladika. Lia, Olga and Natalia came to help us, while Davely dropped by just in time for a hearty meal and a good visit. Father Moses served Vespers while I chanted but he did come to the readers' stand to help me, and I felt that we did very well together. Stavroula came for Vespers and had the opportunity to meet the people who were already here. And, of course, it has rained steadily, although not heavily, all day.

FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER 2017 It is interesting how we become attached to certain things. For over thirty five years I have used the same wooden spoon, given to me by Princess Andiysky, for mixing the dough in baking prosphoras. Someone must have thought that it looked old and substituted a new one for it, but I do miss the old one that had been used for baking countless prosphoras. Perhaps I shall have to ask everyone not to discard anything without my knowledge. Anyway, I baked a beautiful prosphora this morning [yes, having to use a new wooden spoon] then set it aside forSunday's liturgy. When I arrived at the Mission Hospital to see Vladika Lazar, he was accompanied by Stavroula and Sasha who were wheeling him to the little hospital cafe. It was amazing to see the improvement in Vladika's speech. Meanwhile, Jon is working on plumbing, computers, calendars, and who knows what else.

We baptized little Sofia this morning and she was good, considering that she is still shy among adults. Igor unexpectedly dropped in and was able to video the entire service, for which the parents were grateful. Vladika Lazar was transferred from Abbotsford to the Mission hospital this morning, so when I visited him in the afternoon, I found Michael in the nearby dining area sitting with Glyko and Joana, so Vladika will have Michael as a neighbour. From what I understood, Stavroula and Andreas flew in from Virginia today and are on the way to visit VLadika. I do apologize for not answering all the telephone calls and messages, because there were dozens of them and I simply could not keep up with all that.

Jon telephoned me early in the morning to say that he had arrived and was ready for work. The first item was to overcome some problems I had with my computer, after which, the 2018 church calendar was looked at, and which he took to make corrections so that it can be printed next month. I am pleased that he has been able to understand the intricacies of preparing the calendar, as there are many variables. Elena and Natalia came to help us and to feed us as well. Elena took some of the crepes filled with cabbage the two of them made [along with me] to visit Vladika and to give him some variety in food. While at the hospital we went to the cafeteria, Elena pushing Vladika in a wheel chair, while I hobbled along with my canes. Still, the visit did him a lot of good. Jon also visited him at the hospital, taking along a laptop which, even if it is not being used, will make Vladika feel more at home. Alas, plumbing problems arose in the Konak which Jon tried hard to solve, but Father Moses is temporarily without water. Moreover, Thomas just informed me that water was leaking behind the washing machine. When will these problems end?

Early this morning there was a telephone call from the plumber, saying that he had arrived at the monastery. By the time I got to the main building, Thomas had already let him in and shown him where the problem was. He brought with him a long "snake" which he used to clear the drainage pipe. All in all, it looked like a good job, although he still has to replace the toilet itself. In the afternoon I bought a small generator to use when we have a power failure and running water is needed. Our previous one disappeared, probably taken by some light-fingered people. At least this new one was on sale at a greatly reduced price. Vladika Lazar sends his greetings to everyone and thanks all of you for your prayers and concern. He was given physical therapy and he even walked a little. So as not to be idle, he asked me to bring him the volume of Chrysostom's Homilies on First and Second Corinthians, a very encouraging request from someone who has just had a stroke.

We finally heard from the plumber, or rather the plumber's son who informed us that he will be here early tomorrow morning. His father is away on vacation [probably in Italy, not surprisingly so with a name like Massimo] so the son is taking his place. Meanwhile, there is more water on the basement floor, partially because of me, for I did not remember that the kitchen sink should not be used in the meantime. Let us hope that tomorrow will be a successful day in the battle with the plumbing. Liudmila, Dima and Dima arrived to clean the guest room where Vladika Lazar will stay when he returns to the monastery. It will be convenient and very close to the kitchen, the main hall, all of which are on a level floor, while there are just a few steps to reach the church via the side door. He informed me a while ago that he is being transferred to another section of the hospital where patients are prepared for release [sorry, that sounds more like prison terminology!] Our guests from Florida left early this morning for their lengthy flight.

Our enthusiastic readers were here at the crack of dawn, all set to begin Matins. My right hip, always a problem, did not allow me to move about easily, but Father Vasili and Father Alexey were here to assist me, which made it much easier to serve. Our Bellingham faithful were with us again---always a pleasure to see them. Doina, who had been in Europe for many weeks and Vlad, who had been working on Vancouver Island, were present, much to the delight of all, as they are such a charming couple. An Akathist to Saint Panteleimon the Healer was served wherein we begged him to intercede and help Vladika Lazar to be healed. A quick visit to him in the early evening let us know how many visitors had been at the hospital today, and even when Thomas and I walked into the ward, I was absolutely surprised to see Thomas Bottai of Sioux City standing next to Vladika. While attending a conference, he detoured to be able to visit Vladika. On a negative note, we had some flooding in the basement due to some clogging and so we have called out a plumber to make an inspection.

Today we celebrated the feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos which is so popular amongst Orthodox Christians. After an enjoyable meal, some of us drove to the hospital to visit Vladika Lazar who was happy to see us, even though he had a number of visitors earlier. His speech is much clearer now, although his right arm and leg tire easily. He was pleased with the treats that were brought to him, especially the cabbage filled piroshki. One of the visitors who came this evening almost ran over a bear on our highway and I am not certain who of the two was most frightened. I am also pleased to say that Jonathon managed to restore out Russian website, as it was out of commission for a few days.

I am happy to say that Vladika Lazar looked and sounded better today and, moreover, he was moved from Emergency to the main body of the hospital where they left him in the lounge, as numerous visitors dropped in and only later did they assign him to a specific room. I was afraid that perhaps he had too many visitors but he seemed to have enjoyed them all and, as well, his sense of humour has not left him which is important in recovery. All the tests reported that there was no brain damage, so perhaps he will be released fairly soon as an out patient, coming to the hospital for physical therapy. For those of you who know him well, you will not be surprised to hear that he struggled to his table so that the could sit for a while to continue editing his latest manuscript. We have been having some trouble with our website, the Russian one being out of commission for at least three days. Jonathan is trying to rectify the problem and, we hope, all will be well soon---sorry for the inconvenience.

Our main concern has been Vladika's health, so when we visited him in the hospital today, we were disappointed to find that he had another minor stroke. The hospital staff have been diligent in looking after him and they began giving him physical therapy, both with his right arm and with his speech. Of course, his personality has not changed and he joked with the staff which pleased them for, they claimed, a positive and cheery outlook does much good for a recovery. Meanwhile,a group of young people from that same hospital came for a visit and tour which lasted almost a couple of hours. With Vladika away, I entertained them and we all had a pleasant time. Lia could not be persuaded to stay at home, so she came and prepared food for all of us, even driving me to the hospital and back. Bless her for this help, although countless others have telephoned, offering their help. Many thanks to all of you for your thoughtfulness and love.

This has been an emotionally exhausting day for us, as Vladika Lazar suffered a stroke. At first his speech became blurred, then his right side became numb and an ambulance was called out. It arrived in just a few minutes and Vladika was taken to Emergency in Abbotsford where a series of tests and examinations were made to determine his condition. By the time I arrived there later in the afternoon, he was already improving, his speech becoming normal and the numbness gone. He said that at a certain moment he felt something like an electrical charge shooting down his entire right side, which restored his feeling. The medical staff was pleased to see him making such a recovery, but I think that he might remain there for another day or two---we will know tomorrow. Meanwhile, there were literally dozens of telephone calls from people who wanted to know how Vladika was feeling, with offers to come here to help with anything that was needed. Vladika was touched by the concern shown by our dear friends and I know that it made his recovery all the more faster. It was amazing to know that within minutes of Vladika being taken away by ambulance, people began to pray together and especially to the Most Holy Theotokos, whose feast of the Protection we will celebrate later this week.

Our visitors from Chicago were up at four in the morning to prepare to catch the first train that leaves Mission in order to make a connection with their flight home. As a result we have been somewhat groggy all day. Stanislav came with his son Vadim to finish the island table and he brought two books about the photography of his father-in-law who was famous for his work in Kamchatka, as well as photographs he made throughout Russia. The books were fascinating and we poured over them for a long time while sitting at the kitchen table and drinking tea. The 2018 calendar has been completed and now only the corrections are needed. It used to be difficult land time consuming preparing these annual calendars but Jonathon has simplified the process and now it is much easier.

Monday 9 October 2017
Our friend David Goa left for Edmonton early this morning without my having had a chance to say farewell. We always enjoy his visits, for we have known him from the early 1980s at least. The Bynums have been away most of the day with Vladika Lazar and they shall be leaving for Chicago early tomorrow morning, while our guests from Florida will be with us for another few days. I am pleased that the weather has been good for the visitors, although we are supposed to be getting rain for the next few days. I will admit that not much was accomplished today, although I did work on the 2018 calendar and there is only the last part of January 2019 to complete. That is a great relief. The birches that were recently donated have been put into pots for the winter and next spring we shall find the appropriate place to plant them.

It was another sunny day with the air cool, refreshing, and hinting of the approach of winter. In fact, Dieter informed us that he had some snow yesterday afternoon, something almost unheard of, although he does live at a high elevation. The first readers were ready for Matins at eight in the morning and the service seemed to pass quickly. Father Vasili and Father Alexey served with Vladika Lazar with the church filled with more people than I had earlier imagined, since it is the long weekend. Today we commemorated Saint Sergey of Radonezh and, at the end of the Liturgy, we sang Many Years to three Sergeys who were present. We also had a memorial litany for Irakli, as today was the fortieth day after his repose, with a memorial meal following. Because of today's beautiful weather, some people went hunting for wild mushrooms which are plentiful in our valley, but one must know precisely where they are located and, once having found the spots, they usually are kept a secret.

Very early this morning our guests drove to Langley for the second part of the conference on ecology which took place at Trinity Western University. I did not attend it but was told that it was successful which is the main thing. I believe this was the first Saturday in a long time when no visitors came to the monastery, which is not surprising in that it is the long Thanksgiving Weekend. It also allowed me to rest up after a busy week. Supper consisted of warmed up food, since much was left over from yesterday. And now, although it is still relatively early in the evening, I shall go home and retire for the night, hoping that I shall have no encounters with the bears.

In yesterday's diary I forgot to mention that I had to walk back home in the dark to pick up my car key, when suddenly a black bear rushed directly behind me, not even allowing bme to become startled. This morning I went out and saw that it was looking for more raspberries, although few are left. Another group of women arrived at noon to prepare food for lunch and supper as well as finger food for the conference. Lia brought Natalia and Liudmila, then Vera drove from Seattle to help and soon, the tables were almost groaning with deliciously prepared food. By six thirty most of the people had arrived for the conference, the first part of which was held here at the monastery. It was moderated by Steve Bynum, a senior producer for Worldview, the only daily radio talk show in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to global news and affairs. The conference was successful and lasted longer than was expected. Many thanks must be offered to all those who participated in this conference and to the women who worked so hard. It was along but rewarding day.

When I returned home last night, I turned on the kitchen light and I was almost blinded, as there was no light there for about l6 years. I simply got used to not having it and now that Virgil installed it, it looks like light from a tropical sun. This morning saw the arrival of Natasha, Tatiana and Vera who busied themselves with preparing food for us and the visitors. Of course we could have survived without their help, but what they made for us was impressive. We had enough for two meals with food left over for tomorrow. The day itself was a beautiful October day, full of sunshine and autumnal fragrance.

I almost missed a panikhida, or memorial service, this morning because for some reason I thought that today was Tuesday---well, it was not, as I soon discovered. Valentina and Virgil worked on my kitchen ceiling again, also installing a new faucet to replace the old one which had become problematic. Still another Sasha came to work on the two toilets at the end of the long corridor and he expects to return tomorrow to continue this project. Steve and his wife Linda [Thais in baptism] arrived from Chicago today, with our "kids" meeting them at the airport in Vancouver and, after sight seeing in the city, they took the West Coast Express train to Mission where Vladika picked them up. Although Steve has been here many times in the past, his wife is here for the very first time and she is so impressed with the scenery. Our visitors from Florida drove to Harrison Hot Springs, a resort only about 35 minutes from the monastery where they enjoyed the scenery and had lunch overlooking the famous lake.

Early this morning we were surprised to see Stanislav seated in the shade of the cedar trees, painting the scene before him, that is, the western part of the monastery grounds and the barn in the distance. It soon was evident that part of the barn had to be included to give the oil painting more depth and vitality. Our American visitors stayed at the monastery all day and perhaps we can take them for a drive tomorrow to show them this part of the Fraser Valley that is so scenic. Valentina and Virgil came to work on the ceiling in my cottage that had been damaged many years ago. Another coat of paint it will be finished. In preparing the 2018 church calendar I have reached the month of August so that it should be completed before too long. I am pleased that there were few errors and corrections that had to be made. More of the delicious figs on the Turkish fig tree are ripening and are ready to be enjoyed.

The island table is now sitting in the middle of the kitchen and it needs just a touch more to be finished. I do not know how we lived without it for many years; now it is almost like part of the family. Stanislav had been working on it and today he made borshch for us, the real thing with plenty of beets. Later he went to do some outdoor oil painting and when he showed us the result, I was amazed. He painted the willows hanging over the water and it looked like a nineteenth century French painting. Father Vasili and his friend David, a professor of English, both arrived from Florida after a lengthy and tiring flight. Apparently their plane had more leg room than most others, but they were given only one cookie on the flight. Perhaps we could pack a lunch bag for them on their return flight. I hope that they enjoy their visit here and perhaps we can convince them to move here.

The first day of October passed in a typically British Columbia style. At times it rained, then the sun shone, the wind blew and then became quiet, and we said nothing because it is a typical autumn day. The readers began Matins earlier than usual and thus they completed the service well before Liturgy was to begin. Father Aleksey was present to serve with us and the church, well crowded enough, was neither too hot nor too cold, something most unusual. Quite a few people stepped up for prayers for travel, even though the tourist or travelling season is over. I felt tired and, in fact, I even fell asleep while composing this diary entry and, hearing someone breathing deeply, I realized that it was me. I suddenly sat upright and knew then that it was time for me to stop and to prepare for retiring for the night.

It has not been a productive day, since we did not accomplish very much. On the other hand, we have had people coming and going all day, a great pleasure for us. Sergei and Anzhela came to help us and, before long, she was busy making vareniki for supper, as well as soup and other dishes. For Vespers, a number of people arrived with food for the evening meal so that we had a memorial meal for a relative who recently reposed. We did not use the hall and instead we sat in the dining room where fifteen or sixteen people can sit, while the children and others sat at the long kitchen table. We enjoyed watching a short video of Anzhela and a young wild crow that befriended her. You can see this on her facebook. As this is the last day of September, we must be grateful for all that we have received this month and now we look forward to the beautiful autumn month of October.

Although Daniel is leaving us tomorrow, he had a busy day cleaning up his own room and those that were occupied by Father Boris and Vlad who left either late last night or else early this morning, leaving behind a note saying that they had cut their brief visit short and were going to do some sightseeing and then possibly heading back to Ontario. This way, there will be enough room for the visitors from afar. Stanislav has been working on the island table but a difficulty arose in that some of the tiles for the surface were not of identical size, so he had to find others in Abbotsford. I, too, had difficulty with some keys that were made, for they simply did not work, even after taking them back and having them reground. I am not sure what to do now. Three of my canes, or walking sticks as some call them, disappeared and I was lost without them, but I was glad to find them at last. I think of them as my close friends and helpers, each one having its own personality.

It has been another quiet day with little happening here at the monastery. Stanislav came later in the morning to work on the island table for the kitchen but I have not yet gone to the workshop to see what he has done. I heard splashing in the water and immediately thought of the beavers but then suddenly realized that beavers slap their tails against the surface of the water, making a distinctive splash. It was then that I remembered the river otters that have been living with us for a few years. Apparently, beavers and river otters are enemies which is why we have been free of the beavers and their dams for some years. Since Daniel will be leaving us this weekend, he hurried to clean the guest room and a couple of other rooms in preparation for the guests who are to arrive next week. We are looking forward to lots of activity later next week and the ladies have kindly offered to help us feed all the guests.

This great feast of the Elevation of the Cross brought us together under a radiant sun with autumn air filled with an earthy fragrance. Most of the summer we saw no wasps, but now they are everywhere, as if looking for a place to hide for the winter. Although it was a working day, a number of people came for the Divine Liturgy which was bilingual, and considering that it was a strict fast day, the food that was brought was exceptional. We sat at the table for a long time which enabled us to have long conversations. Later in the day visitors, originally from Australia, arrived and we had a pleasant conversation about the various cities of that country and our memories of the monastery in Canberra. Still later in the day we spoke to Justin, an old acquaintance who is a professional opera singer. He told us of his experience in Toronto when he, among others, sang with the famous soprano Anna Netrobko. Justin is talented and has studied under such famous singers as Monserrat Caballe. Vladika Lazar took the tractor for a brief tour of the field and scared off a small black bear.

TUESDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 2017 As we age, we tend to visit doctors more often and that was my case this morning but, thank God, we have doctors who will readily see us at no cost to us. Driving to the nearby city in my little car was most enjoyable, for sitting behind the steering wheel made me feel, once again, like a young man. Everything was quiet at the monastery with not a single person dropping in. We served Great Vespers for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross with just ourselves present which made the entire service comfortable and cozy, if such descriptions can be used---in other words, there were no distractions. A telephone call just received informed me that people are coming tomorrow, bringing lenten food, so we are all set for this sacred feast day.

This day began with my monthly visit to the chiropractor, without whose help I would find it difficult to carry on. From there we drove to Chilliwack to attend to some matters and from there on to Rosedale and Agassiz. Hundreds of memories rushed through my mind of places and events of forty years ago or even more, and how much the landscape has changed. Everything now must be in double or triple size, often displaying garish ostentation, and long gone is the modesty of former times. Yet, there is enough beauty left to fill us with wonder of the gentle mountains surrounding us and the thinly veiled clouds drifting nearby. Davey dropped in with his hands completely dirty from repairing an old truck and his stomach empty from not having eaten all day, so a quick tomato and sweet onion sandwich and some dessert sent him on his way to continue with the repairing.

Our Slavonic readers arrived early, full of enthusiasm to begin Matins at 8 am, but they think that they might have to start at 7:30 to be able to read all the prescribed canons. Much of the material for Matins had to be found and then printed out to be used, but thanks to the generosity of Father Boris, a complete set of all the Slavonic books necessary for Matins has been donated. Now we can gradually work toward acquiring the same in English. Reader Markel gave the sermon in Russian, much to the pleasure of many of those who do not speak English. We were happy to see some new faces and a couple of families that have moved to nearby Abbotsford. By the time the Divine Liturgy had ended, with prayers for travel, etc. it was already noon, making the entire service four hours long, which is probably longer than any parish could endure. After the Agape meal, Vladika Lazar held a Meleti, or spiritual talk, in the new church, while others gathered in the Church of the Relics to study Church Slavonic. How good it is to see enthusiasm and a willingness to learn more about our faith. It is of interest to note that more than ten percent of those present today were Russian Orthodox Old Ritualists, whose presence is always a joy for us and whose icon of Saints Flor and Lavr, about two centuries old, was donated to the monastery and hangs immediately to the left of the iconostas.

My main concern this morning was to bake the necessary prosphora for Sunday which I managed to do, not that it is so difficult, but rather it is easy enough to forget to do it. We had a baptism scheduled for noon and it was a wonderful one. The boy, Mark, is six years old, both keen and enthusiastic about the baptism, during which he behaved like a real gentleman. The father filmed the service to send to all their relatives in Kyrgyzstan, as both he and his wife are from there and they have no relatives in Canada. As with many baptisms, they brought some of their national food which we enjoyed. Have you noticed that the diary entries are often filled with comments about food? Gerry and Andrew came to cut the grass, while Georgeta and Sorin came to work on several projects. It is of interest to note that today is their twenty eighth wedding anniversary and, instead of celebrating by going to a restaurant or to some other place, they decided to celebrate it by coming to work at the monastery and to stay for Vespers as a special blessing. That is most impressive

I did not realize, until someone mentioned it, today is the first day of autumn and now summer is no more, perhaps for the better, as each season must have its own time. In truth, each season has its own beauty. Yuri, the pest control specialist was here this morning to deal with any mouse invasion that might occur, and it was comforting to hear him explain how he goes about his work. Ordinarily I would have baked a prosphora for Sunday's Liturgy but I was swept away with other things, so that it should be baked tomorrow or else we could not have a Liturgy at all. Vladika Lazar did not feel well and, by mid afternoon, Daniel drove him to the Emergency Section of the Mission Hospital where they discovered a blood clot in his lung and immediately took steps to eradicate it. Meanwhile, Father Boris and Vladislav arrived from Ontario and, soon after, people arrived for the baptism of a little baby girl, so there was enough commotion. After the baptism we had a lenten meal, much of it consisting of East Indian dishes, spicy but delicious. Sorin also arrived to look at the ceiling in my kitchen, a part of which has to be replaced. As well, I did not lose this text tonight.

Today we celebrated the Feast of the Birth of the Theotokos which is the first of the Great Twelve Feast -days of the Orthodox Church according to the Orthodox Church calendar, as the church's new year begins in September. Even though it was a working day, many people came for the Divine Liturgy and Vladika Lazar was helped in the altar by Sasha and Andrei. Father Moses and I were joined at the kliros by Raisa and Larisa, who came from Victoria. We also had prayers for travel for Galina who might be flying into hurricane areas. The meal was served with plentiful food, as almost everyone stayed for it and soon after Dima enthusiastically began to clean the hall and other rooms as well, for which we are grateful. Olga showed us photographs of the Cross Procession in which she and Vanya had participated in Riga, and also a short video of a daily service in the largest Old Believer Church in Riga, something that would have been forbidden if anyone had seen her doing it. Some people dropped in for prayers for their grandfather who recently passed away. The rest of the afternoon was spent mainly in visiting and enjoying the company of each other. Liudmila went to pick blackberries but there were only a few left, and even those were fairly dried up; in addition, she returned with scratched legs. Of course, the ladies who were present were determined to prepare supper, which they did, and naturally we ate more than we should have but, after all, it is a feast-day! In preparing today's entry I lost this text twice, so Vladika Lazar arranged something for me to avoid it and, let us hope, it will be successful. As soon as I finish this entry, I must inform Vladika who is concerned that I would go out into the dark night while coyotes are roaming about.

WEDNESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2017 How quiet and peaceful it has been this entire day. A prosphora was baked for tomorrow's Liturgy for the feast of the Birth of the Theotokos, and also five small loves for tonight's blessing of loaves in Vespers. On the other hand, at one point there was one telephone call after another. It was amazing to have another good feed of raspberries, for I thought that their season had already ended, although the strawberries seem to have come to an end. Olga brought us some Riga Balsam, which to me tastes like German stomach bitters and it is supposed to be good for one's health. In addition to the regular one which I like, she also brought some black current flavoured Riga Balsam that is superb and maybe it will give me some energy. Although we are a couple of days early, we would like to congratulate Matushka Anna in Moose Jaw on her nameday this Friday....many years!

It has rained intermittently all day with the air fairly cool. I must admit that at times I almost wished for the heat again, but that is not unusual, since we in British Columbia are always complaining, very much like the British, about the weather. We often hear people say that if you run out of topics to discuss in a conversation, speak about the weather. Vladika Lazar and I drove into the city to buy containers for the skin cream that we make, and I realized how tiring the trip can be. That must be another sign of aging. Youra, the "mouse man" was here in our absence and he inspected my little house, telling Father Moses how the mice manage to get inside. He will be back again and he has plans on how to mount a counter attack against the little rodents. Perhaps they might not be dangerous, but just knowing that a mouse is running about is not pleasant in the least, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night and you can hear a mouse chewing on something.

Most of the baptisms are served here on the weekend but today was an exception when we baptized little Angelina, barely two months old. The only time we heard a sound from her was when she was in the water, but even that lasted but a brief moment. That contrasted with the visitors who came in the afternoon, whose little boy we baptized earlier this year. He cried from the beginning to the very end of the service, so one can never tell how the babies and children will react. A hearty meal was served and enjoyed by everyone and, I think, especially by the old grandmother who was in a wheelchair. "Our boys," as we call them, from down the road, drove up late in the evening and we fed them with the food that was left over from the baptismal meal. The heavy rainfall surprised us, although we did welcome it, for all the plants have been deprived of moisture for too long. Next Sunday I will encourage people to clean the tables they sat at, as there is the tendency to stand up and depart, leaving crumbs and bits of food on the tables, so that we monks have to do the cleaning the following day. As well, volunteers should vacuum the floors and remove the garbage. Basically, I think that most people simply do not think of it, and perhaps a few reminders will help. This is also true for washing and drying in the kitchen after each meal.

It was not that long ago when people set out on their summer vacation, while today we saw them returning: Olga and Vanya from Riga, Svetlana from Omsk, Oksana from Crimea, Zinaida's mother and daughter from Ukraine and many others who are back for the rest of the year. For the first time in weeks we did not suffer from the heat as it was comfortable in the church. Soon after we ate, it began to rain, but only slightly, although a telephone call informed me that it was pouring in Coquitlam and perhaps it will be the same here later on. Apostolos, visiting here from Switzerland, treated us to Swiss chocolates, very delicious, but unfortunately calorific, so we ate only a small amount at a time! The kitchen crew worked with a temporary table, for the island table is not yet finished and perhaps tomorrow it will be completed. As it happens quite often, visitors dropped in during the afternoon to light candles and to pray. Evening is now falling upon us and we are prepared for tomorrow morning's baptism.

Many of our Saturdays have been devoted to baptisms and today was no different when we baptized four month old Roman who did not utter a sound except at the very end when he made himself heard. The godfather flew in from Montreal just for the baptism. Then came Lia and Galina, bringing Stanislaus, a cabinet maker who is working on the island counter in the kitchen to make it more durable and more usable. Then Georgeta and Sorin came to help and all stayed for Vespers that was followed by a delicious supper. Some others stayed as well, except for a couple who came to pray for their young son who died a few days ago, truly a tragic event. Please remember Simeon in your prayers. A few apples, not yet eaten by the bears, were taken to the kitchen and an apple dessert was baked for supper.

I discovered four insect bites on my side which must have happened last night. This was puzzling, as there were no insects in my bedroom, until this morning when I saw a large wolf spider on the wall [I put it to rest!] and it could have been the cause of the bites. If you have never seen one, google "wolf spider" on your computer and you will see what they look like: ours are very hairy. At ;east their bites are not dangerous. More and more signs are appearing of the approach of autumn with the air feeling more subdued and the sunlight has changed to a softer and gentler pale golden hue. While sitting at the office desk, the telephone rang and, when I answered it, I was taken aback, for it was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police calling to speak to Vladika Lazar. At such times, one expects to hear bad news but, on the contrary, they had good news, informing Vladika that his laptop, that had been stolen about four months ago, was found and they were going to return it. This is important because, if it is still in good shape, he can continue to use it to run the printer. Natalia came alone and did housecleaning in addition to preparing a tasty lenten supper for us.

Today we greet the Church New Year, or the Ecclesiastical New Year and thus begins a new cycle even though the accepted civil year begins on 1 January. Our first visitors were the Liudmilins with their son and his family which includes the newly born Julian, who will probably grow up to be trilingual speaking English, Russian and Spanish. It was touching to see with what loving care the father held his son. Soon after they left, more visitors arrived, this time from Alberta, Blair and Amanda Myrfield, who are excited about the expected arrival of their baby son. They live on a ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and we saw photographs of their guest ranch taken in the various seasons of the year. We especially enjoyed looking at the various animals that they have on their ranch. I wondered if they would be able to eat the meal that was prepared, for it was of black spaghetti made from black beans, together with Indian soya in a coconut sauce, and they seemed to have liked it. As I told them, British Columbia is closer to India and China than is Alberta.

I must have been sleeping soundly, for it was later than usual when I awoke. While dressing, I heard a few faint sounds that seemed to be coming from the area around the fruit trees. Peeking out my window, I could see a bear munching on apples that had fallen to the ground, so I quickly put on my shoes and crept outside with camera in hand but, alas, just as the bear stood up on its back legs to reach some apples that were still on a branch, it noticed me and, in a blink of an eye, it ran away. At first it looked rather small but, when it stood erect, it was very large. I walked to the other side to see if it had completely disappeared, but it was gone, not having finished the few ripe apples that were higher up on one tree. Vladika Lazar was not pleased with my attempt to photograph the bear because it is, after all, a wild animal and anything could have happened. I do appreciate his concern, yet there could have been such a beautiful photograph. I consoled myself by gathering a handful of ripe raspberries and eating them right there in the raspberry patch. Galina and Oscar dropped in for a visit during which she read a poem written by her for my birthday---it was touching. Soon after, Yana and Sergey came for a brief visit to arrange for the baptism of their four month old Sophia. It is my impression that others will arrive a bit later, and so the day will end, as it almost always does on a positive note, even if we feel physically tired.

Well, it finally happened and the time for the bears to attempt to break through the electric fence has arrived. Last evening I went to look at the fruit trees and I suddenly heard a suspicious sound which was undoubtedly that of the bear. Today I went there again and there, before my eyes, I found that almost half, if not more , of the apples had been eaten, so I quickly asked Daniel to pick all the rest which he did. The bears ate the ripest ones, but there is enough left for us. If they were not picked today, the rest would have been eaten tonight while I was sleeping just a distance of three metres away [indoors, of course]. In our monastic life there are many things we do that would ordinarily be done by novices or monks. I can give you two examples of what had to be done today. The first was taking an inventory of the storage cupboard where all the plates, cups, bowls, spoons, etc had to be counted and a list made for purchasing those items that are lacking, since each month hundreds of items are used by those who stay for the Agape meals. Another was doing one's laundry, as I have done most of it by hand for many years. This time it was socks, trousers and cassocks [podryasniks] soaked and scrubbed in buckets then rinsed a number of times and hung outside to dry in the fresh air. I know that it must sound old fashioned or even peculiar, but how many monks on Mount Athos, and elsewhere, do their laundry in automatic washers and then use dryers?

MONDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 2017 I am not yet certain if we have fully recovered from the weekend, but at least it is sunny and warm and, moreover, the feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. An unexpected visitor dropped in for the first time, wanting to know about our services and not wanting to enter the church because, as he said, "I will not walk into a church while wearing shorts". I was surprised by his comment but pleased at the same time. Most people who come for services here are modestly dressed, although there are times when their apparel is more suited for the beach! Svetlana telephoned from Volgograd and she passes on her greetings and love to everyone who remembers her and, even it you do not recall her, please accept her greetings, for she is a rare example of Orthodox Christian faith and love. Aside from this call, I spent much of the afternoon with my ear practically glued to the phone from the many calls that I received. How did we ever survive without telephones and now without cell phones?

We would like to thank all the people who stayed late into the night to clear the tables, wash all the dishes, pans, etc. and vacuum the rugs and mop the floors, including the men who cleared up all that was used outside. Reader Markel began Matins alone, bravely carrying on with the reading and chanting until others came to join him. Father Alexey arrived to concelebrate with us in the Divine Liturgy which progressed well, although there were fewer people in attendance than usual. Much of the food left over from yesterday's memorial meal was brought out and, in addition to what was brought today, the meal was like an additional memorial meal. Later, we went to the old Church of the Relics where the visitors were able to venerate the relics and be anointed with myrrh from some myrrh-streaming icons from Mount Athos, whereupon we had a short service in Georgian. It has been a memorable weekend, one not to be repeated in such grief, yet we met so many pious Orthodox people.

In yesterday's entry I said that I would explain what happened, as I wrote the entry fairly early. As one would expect, the funeral service was sad, but what made it so heartbreaking was listening to the father reading prayers over his son. Also, what was remarkable is that the Psalter and prayers were read almost without stopping for nearly 34 hours. The Divine Liturgy began early this morning, and being served in Georgian it touched all the Georgians who seldom have the opportunity to hear it in their own language. Father Thomas was driven to the airport with little time to spare and, in fact, we feared that he might miss his flight, but everyone prayed hard and we were told later that they did not encounter a single red light along the way. He also sent a message to say that he arrived safely in Toronto. We were soon amazed to see the hall: the Georgian women transformed it into a memorial dinner as I have never seen. The tamoda [the person in charge of making toasts and overseeing the meal] made about twelve toasts, if that is indeed the proper word, encouraging people to eat the sumptuous dishes, all the while remembering the servant of God Irakli. Vespers was served and prayers continued until the hearse arrived to take Irakli away. And, may God rest his soul.

At last! Rain has finally arrived and we so grateful, and now we hope for more rain in the next day or two. All the plants are rejoicing together with us, for this rain has brought us new hope. Irakli was brought early this morning and soon his father began reading the Psalter which he continued to read for almost nine hours without a break. Father Thomas, the Georgian priest, flew in this morning from Toronto and we had the pleasure of conversing with him; a truly fine, intelligent and sympathetic priest of the kind not often found these days. The funeral service will start soon and this is why I decided to write today's entry early, for I do not how long it will last. Tomorrow there will be served a Liturgy in Georgian and then Father Thomas has to hurry to the airport to return to Toronto, for he has the Liturgy to serve on Sunday.

It has not been an ordinary day for us. We began by assembling all that was needed for the funeral of an elderly gentleman in Abbotsford, but there were numerous interruptions so, that by the time we left, we were already late. Eventually we arrived and hastily prepared for the service. Father Moses, who always sings together with me at funerals, was not able to attend, for he had an appointment with his oncologist at the same time [the results were very positive], so Vladika Lazar served and I chanted alone. I will admit that the chanting was much better than I had expected. From there we drove to the cemetery, then back to the monastery for a memorial meal. As soon as the visitors left, Glyko arrived with her son Apostolos, who had just flown in from Switzerland. Then the Georgians came for another memorial service, after which I was more than exhausted with just enough energy left to prepare this diary entry. By the way, I saw the two herons fly high up into the tallest tree where they seemed to be resting, a lovely sight indeed.

What a relief it was to have today a little cooler than all the previous days, and this gave us more energy and more determination to accomplish as much as possible before any heat returned that could drain us of our energy. I am again grateful to the women who planted the raspberry bushes earlier this year, for I enjoyed eating a handful of the berries this afternoon. I had a brief conversation with an elderly couple, the husband being 97 years old while the wife was only 94. He lamented that he could not drive his car any longer although he was able to do so until three years ago. I was encouraged by his remark, making me believe that I have a number of years left before I can no longer drive.

It was most unusual to step outside this morning for, on the one hand, it looked mysterious, even frightening, a foreboding of some terrible doom yet, on the other hand, the sky was filled with an unearthly hue of a smoky-golden colour, emitting a magical and ethereal presence. It must have been the combination of smoke and heat that caused it, but it reminded me of old oil paintings that were protected with a coat of varnish which, over the years and decades, formed a dark and almost sad finish to the paintings. Because of the heat we tried to avoid anything that demanded physical exertion, and even our eating pattern fell by the wayside. Since the library was the coolest room in the monastery, I spent part of the afternoon sitting there and enjoyed leafing through some of the books that I had not read for a long time. Our Georgians came for another panikhida tonight and, when we entered the church, the heat was almost enough to whither us, even though the air conditioning was on for a few hours.

Last night a couple of ladies escorted me back home as this often happens with people worried that I might stumble in the dark or be attacked by a bear. Just as I opened the door, one of them let out a scream and I was certain that a bear had appeared, but instead it was a group of raccoons that had come to eat the grapes on the vine. We managed to chase them away and hoped that they would not return, as they had already eaten quite a bit. We shall have to pick most of the rest, otherwise we will not have any for ourselves. This morning we had another panikhida for Irakli with confessions that followed and, even before they had finished, another group of people arrived to inform us that their grandfather had died during the night and they wished to make arrangements for the funeral. And, just at about the same time, Sergei and Liudmila arrived to continue with the work that has been going on for for the past few days. Then Dima and another Dima came to assist in this work. The bears are becoming braver each day and now they have left their"visiting cards" in the berry field. Vladiks's sister is visiting and becoming involved in the monastery's activities. Yes, we are wilting in this heat!

When I finally went home last night, I could hardly recognize it, for the cleaning that had been done made it almost unrecognizable. The carpets were clean, everything dusted and unnecessary things put away. This probably made it much more comfortable to sleep. We expected the church to be hot and it was, especially when it was filled with worshippers. It was nice to have Father Alexey serving with us today and it also gave him the opportunity to become more acquainted with the people. After the Liturgy we had prayers for those who are travelling, then prayers for those returning to their studies, and also the Healing Service we have on the first Sunday of each month. Lastly we had a panikhida for the repose of the soul of Irakli which was very emotional, particularly since the father reader some of the prayers. Many Georgians came from various places for the service and the Georgian women prepared a gigantic table of their national dishes. I feel rather spoiled because a new air conditioner was installed in my little house, something I have never had before.

For today's panikhida for the repose of Irakli's soul, more people arrived from Alberta and, I think, that tomorrow others will come from Fort McMurray where the terrible forest fires played havoc with the city and the surrounding countryside. Soon after, the baptismal group appeared with the three year old twins, Michael and Ivan, who proved to be perhaps the best behaved children that we have ever baptized. The only difficulty we had was in trying to remember which one was which, since they are identical. Sergei and Sasha continued working on finishing the windows in the hall, while several others cooked and fed us, while others, including children, took control of my little cottage with cleaning equipment, giving it the first thorough cleaning it has had in a very long time. After Vespers we were delighted to see the appearance of our dear Georgian friend Andrei who flew in from Toronto to help Simeon in his time of sorrow.

We have entered the first of the BER months as someone once called them, that is, September, October, November and lastly December. In Eastern Europe many considered this month to be the end of summer, but we shall be enduring more heart waves for a while at least. A number of Georgian men drove all night from Edmonton and Calgary to be present for the panikhidas that we are serving every day for the repose of the soul of Irakli. They will return to Alberta but then they will return later next week for the funeral. As things stand now, the Georgian priest in Toronto is flying out to serve the funeral here at the monastery later next week. One can understand how saddened all our parishioners feel. Yesterday I photographed a heron, sitting on a log in the middle of the water below us when suddenly another heron flew up and landed nearby. I hope that they are mates, as they usually stay together as long as they live. While sitting at the computer this afternoon, I caught sight of three raccoons in Vladika's little garden. They must be the mother and her two cubs that have been with us since spring, although the cubs seem to be the same size as their mother. They then climbed to the top of a huge three meter rock outside Vladika's study and began to sniff at the dried moss before climbing down on the other side and heading off into the forest. Masha and Yakov dropped in on their way back from their summer camping.

THURSDAY 31 AUGUST 2017 We had a brief respite from the heat today, as it was mainly overcast with a light breeze that was cool enough to make the day bearable. Sergei toiled all day in finishing the new windows that had been installed, while Lia prepared food for us and fed us heartily, then went on to vacuum the churches. The tragic death of Irakli overshadows us as we continue to pray for the repose of his soul. Since this is the last day of August, we can say that it has been a good month, despite the heat waves [and the one we are to have next week]. There were a number of baptisms, a marriage crowning, blessing of homes and a number of cars that were also blessed. Many people were away on vacation, but at the same time, many visitors came from elsewhere. As we enter the month of September, we look forward to a full life in the Church and we ask Christ's blessing for all of us collectively and individually.

The grandparents of the baby to be baptized had arrived and we were waiting for others to arrive, when suddenly Simeon arrived with his friend. I was puzzled by his appearance and he could scarcely even speak, so his friend told us that Simeon's son, Irakli, had suddenly and tragically died this very morning. His first instinct was to rush from the hospital to the monastery for prayers. I was grateful that Father Moses was with me, as when we began the panikhida I could barely hear my own voice, so we stopped and all of us wept. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have felt like to lose one's own and only son, and in such a tragic manner. Simeon is taking the remains of his son back to Georgia to bury him there. Please keep both father and son in your prayers. This Sunday we will have a memorial for the repose of Iralkli's soul with a memorial meal to follow. After having served the memorial, I returned to the people waiting for the baptism and it took a few minutes for me to regain my composure, after which we went to baptize six month old Feodor, a beautiful baby.

It would be impossible for me to exist without my monthly spinal decompression where, basically, the spine is stretched. The pain that I had endured for years quickly vanished after beginning this procedure. This morning I had my monthly visit to the clinic and then hurried back to the monastery to await our visitors who arrived shortly after noon. We had lunch together and then spent much of the afternoon trying to avoid the oppressive heat, finding the coolest place in the monastery to be the library. While in a library, one expects to be concerned with books and other material, but not today, for it was sufficient to sit in comfortable armchairs and converse. Our lunch consisted of cold dishes, while a Russian supper was served with a mixture of mushroom, cabbage and potato vareniki, followed by paper thin blini and tasty piroshki that were sent to us by some thoughtful ladies. After the sun had set, the air suddenly became bearable and pleasantly cool, offering us the possibility of a sound sleep at night.

As long as I can remember, this feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos has always been a scorcher, as they say, meaning that it is always hot. Today was not different but we did our best to ignore the heat and enjoy the feast. Many people came for the service, even though it was a work day and I think that we all liked the meal, for the fast was then officially over. The garage sale that took place this weekend was very successful, although most were overcome by standing outdoors in the sun. Still, the volunteers seemed to be encouraged by their cooperative efforts. The temperature stayed at about 33 degrees all afternoon and so we were amazed to see Natalia walking all the way to the monastery from downtown Mission. She wanted to know how long it would take her to cover that distance and she made it in one hour and forty minutes, despite the heat. Apparently she walks each day for at least two hours, so it is no wonder that she is in such good physical shape.

Last night Sasha came to me to pick up some items for the garage sale. When I opened the door he suddenly uttered, "There's a bear out here!" He tried his phone but it did not give off much light. I did not see him later to find out if he had actually seen a bear or perhaps heard one. We are in the last part of summer and I have not yet seen one, but when the apples ripen they will be appearing all the time. We had a lovely baptism this morning for Mark who is about six months old and he behaved admirably. While holding the chubby baby I told the mother of what people used to say concerning prosphoras and when the dough is ready for the oven. The dough, they used to say, must feel like a baby's bottom or at least like its plump legs. Whoever thought up this saying was clever, because the dough must be soft, tender, yet firm to the touch, exactly like a baby.

It was necessary to bake two prosphoras this morning and so the task began with opening a new bag of flour that had been donated. There are times when we have three or four bags of flour that have been brought mainly by Romanian people who come for confession, and they also often bring two or three bottles of communion wine, as is their custom. After placing the two prosphoras in the oven and walking over to the sink, I heard a terrible noise like that of the offensive starlings, squealing, chirping and other unpleasant sounds. To my astonishment when I looked out the window, there were two river otters rolling around and fighting on the pavement of our driveway. With lightening speed they twisted, rolled , leapt, while continuing to cry out, perhaps a warning or a threat, when suddenly they stopped and ran off into the water. Our cat hurried to the spot where the action was, no doubt trying to understand what had taken place. I brought out the old Russian typewriter, no doubt more than 100 years old, and dusted off the cobwebs, preparing it for the garage sale. Surely someone will find it worthwhile to buyt and even use it, for it is in fairly good condition.

What happened to the rain that we were promised? Only a few drops fell as if to annoy us. Still, our resident heron keeps showing himself, but at a distance. I tried to creep up on him to take a photo but he leapt up and, spreading his silvery-blue wings, he flew to a distant site to hide in the safety of the tall grass. The figs on the Greek tree are ripening, although the entire tree has bent over with its own weight and the lower branches are lying on the ground. This tree and a few apple trees are surrounded by an electric fence that has been turned on, but I hesitate to touch it just to verify that it is working. Would anyone like to volunteer to touch the fence? As I recall, it gives one a strong jolt. The majestic dragon flies are flying about, looking like attractive drones, but the hummingbirds are few in number this year.

A quick stop at our favourite service station to buy gas proved to be interesting and amusing. An old automobile, orange in colour with perhaps a touch of crimson, pulled up to the neighbouring gas pump. A fairly young woman got out of the driver's seat and headed straight toward the pump. Meanwhile, her male companion sat with his bare feet on the dashboard. The open trunk was filled with bales of hay and, in fact, a couple of bales were tied down on top of the trunk. That in itself was not so unusual, but when I glanced into the back seat, there was a calf lying across the entire seat. Having filled the tank with gas, they drove off quickly, leaving a trail of hay floating in the air. This could have been a scene in some isolated village fifty or sixty years ago, but to witness it in a cosmopolitan area was unbelievable, yet somehow heartening, seeing how these people dealt with the problem of transporting a calf. Such a solution would probably not occur to any of us.

Before I fell asleep last night, there was growling outside my bedroom window, perhaps even a bear, but I was not prepared to venture out in the dark to investigate. At night there is complete darkness and city people are usually afraid to step into the dark, although some automatic lights have been put up. Morning arrived and all was normal again. It is always a pleasure to hear from friends in Florida but no one ever sends any emails from California [perhaps there are no diary readers there]. Glyko dropped by to visit the church and say some prayers, and we convinced her to stay with us for supper which was prepared in just a few minutes. Her husband Michael, is not doing well and is in hospital, so please remember him in your prayers.

I picked up Vladika Lazar at noon at the Abbotsford Airport, just as two large planes landed. The ensuing clamour, crowds of people milling about, impatience in retrieving baggage was almost more than I could endure. Contrasted with the peace and tranquility at the monastery, I began to wonder if hell itself is not like this airport scene. Vladika spoke highly of the conference in Toronto and, without a doubt, the participants benefitted from his presentations. Now we can resume the editing and correcting necessary for the publication of more material. No, we did not witness the eclipse of the sun today, as we are too far north, however, the sun and the entire universe will undoubtedly continue to exist and function even without our visual observation of such a phenomenon. Sorin came after work to do more finishing, including hauling away some trash, as well as the two commodes that were standing outside. Even though they were behind the building, they looked too out of place.

It was easier than usual to arise this morning because, although the days might be hot, the nights are cool and thus the mornings are refreshing. By the time I got to church, the readers were already engrossed in the service of Matins which they thoroughly enjoy. It was good to have our Georgian men back with us, for they had been in Calgary for a few weeks and it meant that the Lord's Prayers was recited in Georgian after we had sung it in English. Lia loaded up her truck with material for the garage sale and already a big sale was made. I think that the organizers of the sale are having fun with this event. Later in the afternoon a group of us went outdoors and sat in the shade on the upper lawn but, as the sun moved, we kept changing our positions untill, finally, we ended up on the lower lawn. All the while we kept admiring the stunning nature around us---the beautiful evergreen trees rising up the low mountain behind the monastery, the clear blue sky, the air with traces of the scent of the nearby flowers and the lush green grass in the shade of an immense tree. As you can tell, there is no need for us to visit any park, for we have this beautiful haven right here before our very eyes.

We celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ today with a full Matins service followed by the Divine Liturgy which was somewhat difficult for me, as it is difficult for me to stand any length of time but, by God's grace, all went well. We had the blessing of fruit at the end of the service and then the Agape meal. Most of the afternoon proceeded with all of us sitting in the hall, a cool breeze drifting across the room, and enjoying each other's company. Before long it was time for Vespers, by which time I had gathered more strength. I was pleased to see Katya, who has just returned from a trip to Russia and will soon be flying again, as she is a flight attendant. More things were brought for the garage sale and, I have been told, much material has been gathered for this sale.

It has been overcast all day, making it pleasant for us to spend time outside, rather than trying to avoid the heat, and even watering was enjoyable, instead of being a chore. The small wild strawberries continue to produce berries every day and, although there might only be a dozen of them at the most at any time, they are so different from the commercial ones. Realizing that we had no fruit for tomorrow's Transfiguration blessing of fruit, I hurried downtown and bought some. Yet, later in the day I checked our Greek fig tree and found a few ripe figs which I will add to the basket to be blessed. After baking two prosphoras for the two forthcoming liturgies, I prepared some chili con carne, naturally lenten and without meat, which brought back many fond memories of home to Father Moses.

Valentina and Virgil came early this morning to finish the two washrooms they had undertaken to remodel and the result is splendid. The tiled floors, the newly painted white walls, the commodes that they provided have turned the former medieval looking rooms into something attractive and modern. For this they must be thanked. Some ladies came for prayers and, after a pleasant visit, we served a moleben for the health of Vladimir who is seriously ill in Siberia. Remember him in your prayers, as he has a rare and perhaps even untreatable illness. Later I hurried to town for my dental appointment where I had a tooth refilled. Just as a matter of interest, I almost never have any freezing done, and this is not to show that I am brave, but really, there is usually very little pain involved. Vladika Lazar telephoned from Toronto where he is to deliver a talk at a Coptic young peoples' conference.

We are having trouble with our monastery website and Jonathan is working on that now, hopefully solving it before too long. Valentina and Virgil spent much of today laying tiles in the two washrooms at the end of the corridor. Even though the grouting is yet to be done, it already looks so much better than the previous bare concrete floors. This area is possibly the last part of the main building to be renovated. As with all large buildings, there is never an end to repairs and other tasks connected with the upkeep. Our Corfu grapes are not yet ripe, but I did sample some today and, I must say, they are fragrant and delicious---no wonder the bears enjoyed them so much last year.

An early telephone call informed me that Lia and Natalia wanted to come to clean and prepare food for us, so how could I refuse such a request? Meanwhile, after a brief stop at the pharmacy, I began to cross the street when suddenly I was thrown off balance and fell onto the pavement. As it happened, the manager of the pharmacy and his assistant were nearby and they, along with some others, came rushing to assist me. The problem was that they did not quite know what to do, as they could not tell if I was injured badly. Slowly they lifted me up and escorted me to the car. I thanked them for their help and concern and, in our own Canadian fashion, they apologized for not being able to help more! Fortunately, there were only scrapes and bruises, and a sore wrist, but I must admit that it did frighten me, although I did remember to relax as I fell and that did help. Enough now for my complaining. Natalia suggested that some of the grape leaves have been affected by something in the soil or perhaps the chips that were spread. At any rate the grapes are slowly maturing and we shall enjoy them unless the bears get to them first. Greetings to Meredith in Salt Lake City.

Often I begin the Monday entry by stating how nice it is to rest, and how necessary it is, yet today, with a wonderful cool breeze and pure air, we all felt a renewal of energy. This is important because as we age, our energy seems to gradually decrease, although it is inspiring to read about people in their nineties being active, something we all should strive for. Our neighbour Andy brought us some of his ripe cherry tomatoes and baby carrots. During the Dormition Fast we shall be concentrating on eating fresh vegetables and berries, as we strive to cleanse ourselves both spiritually and physically. Part of our grape vines have become unmanageable, covering the holly tree and spreading across the driveway, but Thomas will soon take care of this with his shears.

We welcomed the rain but it did not last long enough, although it cleared the air, made it cooler and moistened the ground. If only we could have more of it. After the Divine Liturgy there were three vehicles to bless: a sedan, a pickup truck, and a large commercial truck. All three were blessed at once, much to the satisfaction of their owners. Later in the afternoon we served a quiet and modest wedding for Nikolai and Xiaodan, a Russian-Chinese couple. It was almost sunset before everyone left, having had a day full of blessings and joy. Vera came from Seattle, bringing 100 tiramisu desserts, all of them being eaten by those present for the meal and for the wedding. It is possible that we ate too much today, knowing that the Dormition Fast will begin tomorrow. People have already been informed about bringing fruit to be blessed on Saturday, the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ.

At last we could see not only the mountains across from us, but even those farther away, which were hidden from our view for two or three weeks at least, and by evening it became cooler with what looked like rain clouds approaching. Usually we want Sundays to be warm and sunny, but this time let the rain pour. Vladkia Lazar and I drove to Bellingham in the U.S. to visit some Romanian friends who invite us regularly. As usual the four course meal was splendid and it was obvious that the whole family had spent hours in preparing the food. While sitting at the table for over four hours, the conversation was never dull with dozens of question being asked. At times four or five people spoke at the same time and only the loudest could be heard. It felt like an East or South European gathering where everyone enjoyed the theological, historical and literary conversation, but most of all, they plied Vladika with questions, the answers to which they could not find elsewhere. We returned home to find people sitting and waiting for us with a visitor amongst them from Russia. Meanwhile, the men worked all day to complete the installation of the remaining windows, while the women prepared food to feed them. May the Lord bless all of them for their devotion and love.

At last we have been able to see some of the sun as the air becomes clearer and the weather report tells us that we should have some rain this weekend. How we disliked the rain earlier this year, but now we can barely wait for it to arrive. Olga came to help us outside and later inside. She treated us to a superb vegetable dish at lunch time and later, when the prosphora was in the oven, Davey walked in and said "What smells so good?" It was the prosphora baking, of course. We were saddened to hear that Elia and Gerry's house was flooded during their absence on a brief trip. We ourselves experienced this twice in the main building, and both times were difficult to deal with as we sloshed in four inches of water.

Late last night I went to the sink in my kitchen to wash a cup and saucer when, out of the corner of my eye, I thought that I saw some movement. When I looked down, there was a small newt on the floor and then it quickly scurried under the stove. A few minutes later I saw it again under a cabinet in my study. No, I was not disturbed by its appearance, because another newt showed up last year and I named it Isaac, after the famous Isaac Newton. So, if this one stays with me perhaps I could call it Isaac the Second. Would you believe that some people keep them as pets, although this one will probably escape soon and go outdoors where it really belongs. My only fear is that I might step on it in the dark. Monica came today with her mother and niece who are visiting from Romania. We served a moleben, especially praying for little Julian who is suffering with some unknown illness. Please remember him in your prayers. Greetings to Sybil in Kansas---I had no idea that you followed this diary so closely.

There are few sounds here at night, yet occasionally we are awakened by strange noises. Last night I awoke to see a faint light somewhere in the distance. I arose and looked out the window to see that one automatic light came on, meaning that perhaps an animal walked by. I cautiously opened the door and stepped outside where the only sound was of a distant train, then suddenly a roar came from one of the giant bullfrogs, a sound that could stop anyone in their footsteps. Feeling assured that all was well, I returned to bed. In the morning I saw a strikingly beautiful Steller's Blue Jay, the official bird of British Columbia. It is named after Georg Steller, a German who worked in Russia in the 18 century and who is considered to be the father of botanical and natural studies of Alaska. Later I heard the singing of a chickadee, although we hear them mainly in winter. Also, I refilled the feeder for the hummingbirds and they were most grateful for that. As an afternoon treat I picked some strong mint from my little herb garden and made mint tea, bringing back fond memories of Morocco of fifty years ago. Monica came for a moment, bring us so much lettuce and spinach that we could scarcely fit them in the refrigerator. In addition she brought enough string beans to feed a starving army. Bless her for supplying us with all this organic produce.

We allowed ourselves to sleep in a little this morning, possibly because of the tiredness we feel from the heat. Yet, there is no time for idleness and much has to be done each day. Too much time today was spent in the store where we bought our mobile telephones, because it was impossible to transfer the photographs to the computer. The young man was kind and helpful, telling us, "Just do this and that, and again that and this and, presto, it will be done!" Well, we did this and that and again that and that, yet nothing happened. Finally. Vladika Lazar was able to figure it out himself and I believe that we will more readily be able to post photographs on the website. How frustrating it can be while speaking to these young people who assume that you know as much about computers as they do. Well, as they say, live and learn. Our poor old black and white cat seems to be pining away over the loss of the black cat, and we try to comfort her as best as we can. They both have been such good mousers and really earned their keep.

The work party arrived early this morning to begin replacing the windows in the big hall. Markel, Alexander, Sergey and Dima then spent the entire day during which they replaced almost half of the windows, the old ones being very old and in need of replacement. What a difference they have made. The men expect to return this Saturday to complete replacing the other windows. It was impressive to see that the men, having moved tables and chairs, and spread sawdust while working, vacuumed the carpet and put everything in the proper place. Lia, Galina and Natalia spent the day preparing food for the hard working men and giving them breakfast, lunch and supper. Later Lia's husband arrived, after having driven 700 kilometres and he joined us for supper. In the meantime, several visitors came at different times and they were shown monastic hospitality.

The air quality was bad again today and, when I looked out across the valley, I could scarcely see the mountains. It is the B.C. long weekend, so many people were away on camping trips, especially to the Okanagan Valley. On the other hand, over a dozen new comers were present and we had a chance to become acquainted with them. Father Alexey Isakov served with us today and it was a joy to have him and his family with us. His newly baptized god daughter was also present with her mother and grandmother who is visiting from Kiev. One of the visitors was a lady who had lived in both Hollywood and San Francisco. She had made documentary films, and now that she is living in British Columbia, she would like to make such a documentary film about our monastery in a year or two, after she completes her second book. As a matter of fact,many years ago such a film was made about our monastery by a Chinese TV company. It was mainly in Chinese with English subtitles except when we spoke and then the subtitles were in Chinese.

We had another baptism today for six month old Lev, whose parents and grandparents are from Siberia, but who lived a number of years next to the Russian Orthodox Convent at Ein Kerem in Jerusalem. The child smiled through most of the service and followed it with great interest. He liked his cross which had been blessed in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Visitors from Alberta saw our raccoon family in the parking lot and we probably have the raccoons to blame for the cats' feeding bowl having disappeared. It has happened before when they dragged the bowl into the woods. Lia, Galina and Natalia arrived just before Vespers and, after the service, they began doing all the things that they usually do when they come to help us here at the monastery. By the way, the missing shop vacuum cleaner was located in a dark corner near the men's washroom even though none of us had noticed it there. But where is the cement mixer?

The quality of the air was so poor that the sun could not be seen. Father Moses wondered what the white film was on the dashboard of the car, and it was the fine ash that is in the air. In fact, the whole car had to be washed. A picture of Sunday's procession was put up on www.archdiocese.ca. Since we have several buildings on the monastery property, finding things can be a problem. At the moment we cannot locate a shop vacuum and a cement mixer, although I doubt that any reader of this diary would have walked off with either of them, especially the latter. Even though we had a terrible spring that was cool and wet, crops are ripening quickly. This morning I picked the first fig from the Greek fig tree and usually the figs are not ripe until later in August. It was sweet and juicy, but in the afternoon I noticed that the nearby Turkish fig tree also had a ripe fig. I do not want to compare them because there is enough tension between Greeks and Turks in general, without bringing a comparison of their figs into the picture

We have several kiots with icons in various parts of the monastery territory and today I completed one that Andy, our neighbour, had made for us quite some time ago but it was never finished. An icon of Saint Luke of Crimea and Saint Nectarios, permanently fixed on aluminum guaranteed for at least 25 years, was put on this kiot. We shall find a place for it outside, perhaps near the beautiful dogwood tree. Alas, our volunteers were not able to come today, but we appreciate their enthusiasm. Last night Daniel thought that he might be hallucinating, as he seemed to see a bird flying around in the dark, yet when he turned on the light, there was nothing. It turns out that it was a bat and, with a butterfly net that Father Moses gave him, it was caught and released. People often fear bats but they are very useful in catching insects, especially mosquitoes. They enter the buildings when doors are not tightly shut.

It was hot last night, so my bedroom window was open to let in some fresh air. Then a pack of coyotes began howling nearby and, although I am accustomed to hearing them, others could easily become frightened. Today has been hot again with very poor air quality. The smoke from the distant forest fires reached our part of the valley and it has been overcast with a somewhat acrid smell from the smoke. On this day we commemorate Prophet Elijah and, according to an age old belief, it is supposed to rain, but he obviously was occupied elsewhere and was unable to visit us. Needless to say, we stayed indoors as much as possible to keep cool, although Sasha spent a good part of the afternoon moving dried branches and spreading soil. As far as I understand, water can now be easily pumped from the pond in front of the monastery to water flowers and shrubs, and tomorrow, when the women come to do some outdoor work, they will be shown how to do it.

Today we celebrate the memory of Saint Macrina on the traditional Orthodox calendar and, on the right hand of the iconostas of the new church, there is an icon of her. Moreover, not only is it the first day of the month, but as well we are introducing a new feature, the diary also appearing in Russian translation. The translations will be done by Dmitry and Liudmila Gusev, who have already translated a number of works for Synaxis Press. This will be the first step in rejuvenating the Russian Site. Sasha picked the first apples along the monastery road, not far from where we saw a family of raccoons this morning. I wonder if they were interest in these apples. Igor came with his drone to do some filming above the monastery and apologizing for the drone not doing well during Sunday's procession. It seems that a stabilizer will have to be added to the drone. I got a new mobile phone today, after years of using the old fashioned type. I wanted to have one that can take good pictures so that I would not have to carry both phone and camera at all times. I hope that it will not take too long to learn how to use it.

It feels sad to say farewell to the month of July, since we know what the heat of August is usually like, but it is summer after all. I was surprised to find a huge truck on our doorstep, coming to deliver large windows to replace the ones in the great hall, many of which have been in poor condition. They have been set against the wall of the work shop and I really have no idea of when they will be installed, but everyone is certain that they will keep the hall warmer during the winter months. The delivery men could not get over the mountain water in the spring. They kept drinking it and even washing their faces and hands with it, almost as if they were pilgrims. We are attempting to rest up after yesterday's busy feast day and, consequently, not too much was accomplished. I would agree that there are times when a good rest is just what is needed.

I often worry that something might be forgotten and, on this our feast day of the Joy of Canada, we completely forgot to hang all the flags that are hung on this feast, all fourteen or so. What is interesting is that no one even mentioned their absence. Even though the day has been hot, it was quite bearable in church, filled as it was with worshippers. I was driven to the memorial in the field so that I did not have to walk the distance, fearing that I might not make it. How lush the bushes are there, while the trees look most mature. It seems that it was not long ago when everything was planted there. The scene looked old worldly, with the procession wending its way along the monastery road, reminding me of processions of ages past. Food was abundant at the Agape meal and some stalwarts went picking our blueberries, reporting back that the bushes are loaded with berries. As well, they brought us containers full of berries for us to freeze. I would like to thank all those who toiled so hard to make this feast successful, as well as all those who were able to come. During the meal we were informed that a family had arrived from Edmonton and they wished to have their baby baptized here, so later in the afternoon we served the baptism for little Anastasia. It was much after eight in the evening when the past people departed. Naturally we are tired, but what a blessed exhaustion this is!

SATURDAY 29 JULY 2017 A family brought a mentally disturbed girl to consult with Vladika Lazar today. This is not an unusual event as Vladika Lazar is often sought out by people with drug, alcohol and psychiatric issues in their families. Vladika is always patent in these cases, and generally manages to help in some way, even spending hours and weeks mentoring people with such issues. He has been credited with saving a number of people’s lives through his co-suffering love for them.
.....Today was a bit unusual in that the daughter refused to leave with her parents, and they themselves finally resorted to calling the R.C.M.P. on their own, as they were having difficulty with a member of their family. I went out to see if I could be of assistance and I was truly impressed by the behaviour of the police. Not only were they kind, patient, and empathetic, but also very professional. Eventually the disturbed person left with family, and I told the policemen how impressed I was with their professional behaviour. As they were leaving, one of them said,"Please remember the Mission City Police in your prayers". I was almost dumbfounded in hearing such a remark, but our encounters with the "Mounties" have always been positive. Lia and Natalia worked the entire afternoon to clean and to prepare food for us, also bringing three or four dozen giant gladioli for the church and some to take to the memorial in the field.

While the prosphora is in the oven, I will have enough time to prepare today's Daily Diary entry. Soon I shall make the fourth trip to town this day, the first at the crack of dawn to allow Daniel to catch an early train to Vancouver; the second time I took Father Moses to the Abbotsford Hospital for some day surgery; the third time was to bring Father Moses back to the monastery; and the fourth time will be to collect Vladika Lazar when he arrives at the Abbotsford Airport on his return flight from Edmonton. In the meantime, our dear friends, the piroshki producers, arrived with their usual assortment of goodies. Their piroshki are quite different, as they are mostly filling with the thinnest dough, whereas many others make them just the opposite. Another visitor asked to have his automobile blessed, and thus the entire day passed by quickly and harmoniously.

There are days when nothing of importance has happened, or even of unimportance, and such was this day, yet there can be something positive about that. Davey and Chris came by to haul Andrew's car to Maple Ridge after it had spent the last few months here with us. Who knows, perhaps it has become monastically inclined during its stay with us! I looked through dozens of periodicals from the 1950s and 1960s, not knowing what to do with them. The thought of discarding them does not appeal to me, so perhaps they will be stored in the library for the time being.

It has been a quiet and peaceful day. The carpets are clean, windows are shining, and flowers and plants have been watered. All the balloons have been taken down and left in the reception room and I have no idea of what to do with them. Perhaps we can tie them together and let them drift off into the blue yonder! Now that the muffler on my car has been repaired, I feel confident in driving without the nasty noise to put up with. I took Father Moses for a drive to a neighbouring village and, on the way back, we took some side roads to admire the fields and crops in this part of the Fraser Valley that has mostly escaped modern development. It is time for supper and nothing has been prepared, but that is no problem, as we will have cold cereal with fresh blueberries and oatmeal milk. Doesn't that sound good?

I was deceived into thinking that today was going to be a perfect summer day, as it was warm, bright and sunny in the morning, and little did I know that by mid afternoon it would be hot enough to remind one of the Sahara Desert. In such circumstances I become completely bereft of energy. Still, Lia and Galina arrived early in the day to begin cleaning up for this weekend's feast. They brought a professional carpet cleaner and then set about to clean all the carpets, clean the windows until the glass sparkled, while yet finding time to prepare supper for us. In the freezer they found some frozen trout that made for a delicious meal. Daniel watered plants at the memorial and also those in the flower beds. Andy warned us about the large bear he saw in the field, so we shall be cautious when we spend time outdoors.

We arose early this morning, as Vladika had to catch a flight to Edmonton for the All Diocesan Assembly and I had to drive him to the airport. I was pleased that Davey could take all the garbage that had accumulated to the local garbage and recycling depot. This Sunday I shall try to remember to inform everyone at mealtime that some should volunteer to take at least some of garbage away, as much of arises from the meal itself. Davey then took my car to work on the exhaust which began to make unbearable noise. As Father Moses and I were to leave to visit Mike in the hospital, Lia and her husband drove up, bearing gifts and food. By the time we returned they had gone, leaving behind a full supper for us. Meanwhile, Davey phoned to say that he repaired the car and now I shall have confidence while driving it [yes, I do enjoy driving].

So many people have complained about some sort of lethargy, if one can call it that, these past few days, and much blame has been put on the weather which is neither hot nor cool, and neither wet nor dry, but at times all combined. Despite people being away on vacation, we had many new people who showed up from different parts of the world, including Daniel, who is half Zimbabwean, with his family. Unfortunately, we will lose them as they are moving to New Zealand soon. Reader Irinaeus gave a solid sermon and we also had prayers for those planning to travel. They are blessed with holy water and then the rest of the congregation is also blessed. Whenever I say that I will bless everyone with holy water, their faces light up and, when they are sprinkled---or sometimes almost soaked---with holy water, they smile with great joy. If someone is omitted, they loudly ask to be blessed and it is a blessing for me to see such fervour. Dima brought several service books in Slavonic: the Typikon, the Gospel and the Panikhida book to begin with. Elena Bokova, a talented violinst who has just received a master's degree in music and is studying in Houston, Texas, gave us a short recital, receiving sustained applause. The few who remained until six o'clock began making plans for growth and outreach which will undoubtedly be realized, judging by their enthusiasm.

Late this morning a family, whose daughter we baptized a couple of years ago, dropped in to visit us, and with them came the grandparents who live near the Black Sea. We enjoyed the conversation and caught up on the news. Valentina and Virgil brought three braided loaves, one for each of us, making for a splendid afternoon tea. Lia came with a load of food and began preparing supper. Then Anzhela arrived with Natalia, both bringing more food, followed by Larisa, and finally Joanna came with her special Greek mixed roasted vegetables. They were followed by two Sashas, Kyril, Vanya, and Kostya. Once again we were spoiled by their hospitality, although we really did not complain about it. From what I understand, a pump has been put into the pond so that we can draw water freely to water the plants. This surely will be a great help.

It has been overcast the entire day with a few scattered showers, but not enough to do any good for the soil. We spent the day in editing, ironing vestments, and preparing for Sunday's service. At one point, the keys to the Jeep were left inside the vehicle and the doors were then locked. Since we could not retrieve them, someone from the BCAA came to our rescue. It took him all of two minutes to unlock the door which was fortunate for us, but one does begin to wonder if it is just as easy for thieves to break into cars. The man told us that even he had done the same, locking his keys inside and having to call BCAA to come to his rescue. Our first ripe zucchini was picked and prepared for supper, providing us with a delicious dish, although Vladika Lazar does not in any way, care for this vegetable.

Today's first telephone call came from Florida, from Father Vasili, who informed us that he is planning to visit us for a couple of weeks in early October. We certainly shall look forward to his visit, as we always do, but this time he will be with us much longer than usual. Finally, after running about, the medical form required for continuing to drive was obtained and sent off, giving me two more years of driving until the next check up. Someone promised to bring us a huge salmon [which I think they may have already done] and now we have to think of what to do with it. It might be the most popular fish in British Columbia, but we have grown tired of it because, whenever we have been invited to someone's home, we were always treated to salmon. I am sure that we shall find something to do with it. We still have Lia's Lithuanian cold soup to finish, Natasha's Kazakhstan dumplings, a couple of cakes and so forth, and there is only so much that we can eat.

I thought that a sound and restful night was all that I needed after yesterday's long but remarkable day, yet it was long past midnight before I dozed off to sleep. Part of today was spent in getting permission to continue driving, as after the age of 80, one needs a doctor's approval every two years. I got this approval some time ago, but it was lost somewhere between here and Victoria, so a new form had to be obtained and filled out. We also sat at the kitchen table, sorting blueberries before freezing them, and we shall try to outwit the bears by gathering as many as possible before they hasten to finish off the remaining berries. There were many more phone calls and emails today for my birthday, so if you do not get a personal thank you note or phone call from me, I apologize for my negligence. I honestly was most touched by all your good wishes, kindness and love.

Today was the day when I turned eighty two years old even though I feel much younger, except for the arthritis and so forth. For most of the day I sat in the hall, receiving guests who came to visit. There was enough food brought to feed a herd of starving teenagers, and each group brought more food. It is a wonder that we could spend almost the entire day just sitting, eating and enjoying each others' company. I will not name the people who came or the endless phone calls, but I must thank everyone for their love and kindness in making this a special day. I feel so privileged in receiving such attention and love from so many wonderful people and I pray that it may continue for many years to come.

Last night at about eleven, Father Moses phoned me say that he could see people walking outside and it looked suspicious, since no one would come at that time. At any rate they drove off and there was nothing that we could do. In the morning we discovered some gifts left on the porch by people who had been camping over the weekend, and had stopped here on their way back home, knowing that we would not be available, but wishing to leave some gifts for us. Today has been quiet, although Vladika had to buy another pump for the field, as the old one was broken. Once it is installed we shall be able to water everything at the memorial in the field.

SUNDAY 16 JULY 2017 There was a slight drizzle early this morning and we hoped that it would rain throughout the day, as the soil really needs it. But, it ended soon, although the rest of the day was pleasantly cool. A number of people are away on vacation right now, so fewer people were in attendance. After the Agape, quite a few hurried to the kitchen to clean up while others cleaned the hall, vacuuming it and carrying out the garbage. It was a delight to see this enthusiasm. The Kalugins sang "Lord I have cried..." in the first tone using the ancient Znamenny chant as we sat later in the afternoon, discussing canonical icons and ancient chants. They also climbed up the little mountain behind us. Others went into the field to pick our organic blueberries, bringing us buckets of berries. Before leaving, Lia made us more of the Lithuanian cold soup and other delicacies that we can use the next couple of days.

What a delightful baptism we had this morning when everyone appeared wearing Ukrainian shirts and blouses, and even three year old Alexander wore an embroidered shirt with a wide sash and red Cossack pants. He behaved excellently and we took a number of photographs later. I am sure that you will be able to see some of them on one of our sites. Glyko and her daughter Alexandra from New York came in the afternoon, followed by Lia and Natalya who is now living in Mission. Then came Sveta, two Sashas and Asya, all of whom stayed for Vespers and then treated us to a supper that was more like a banquet. I do not know if I can handle all this delicious food. Sasha [senior] went to try his hand at catching a carp or two in our stream, for people have noticed that some huge carp are swimming about. Gerry and Andrew were also here and they changed the oil in the tractor lawnmower, although we will not be mowing the grass for some time yet, probably not until after the next heavy rain.

It was only a few minutes ago that I realized I had made a mistake yesterday in the diary. It was not red but black currant jam that was made, and it was not current but currant, two entirely different things. If it had been red current jam, I surely would have got a tremendous jolt from eating it! Last evening Daniel and I picked some blueberries and I was planning on doing the same tonight, but I think that it will be too much of an effort, so we shall delay that for a while. I had a good conversation with Liudmila who, over the years, has given much encouragement and advice which I really appreciate.Davey drove up in a red and black 1948 Austin van[?] that sounded like an overheated tractor, but he was happy with it and, indeed, it looked like a classic.

For at least half an hour this morning I sat at my little table with the door at my elbow wide open [and the screen keeping out any marauding mosquitoes], looking at the grape vines and the intensely royal blue hydrangea, all the while thinking how fortunate I have been to be living in this paradise. As well, the dove was cooing and all felt so perfect. Natasha and Sveta came later to do more work, including making some red current jam with the berries that Dima brought last Sunday. Now that the Apostles' Fast has ended, I cut a slab of Havarti cheese to eat with the newly prepared red current jam while drinking Yorkshire Gold tea. Nothing could be better than that. Daniel and I examined several boxes and bags that had been stored downstairs and decided what was to be thrown out, to be kept, and to be given to a thrift shop. Finally there will be more space for what really is necessary.

Today is the wonderful feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a beloved feast of early summer. As Vladika Lazar had to be examined by an eye specialist, I served the Divine Liturgy, having to be careful with my troublesome hip, yet i managed fairly well. I was pleased to see a number of people showing up for the service, after which we had a nice lunch, Even though the Apostles' Fast ended, it was a Wednesday, and all the food had to be lenten. Anisym and his son Zenon sang an Old Rite version of a prayer which we enjoyed hearing. For YOU ASKED, I have prepared a few words about the Roman Catholic use of azymes, or "dead bread". It should be up in a day or two.

Vladika Lazar was in the Abbotsford Hospital for part of the day where he was examined, once again, in his recovery from cancer. Glory to God, the results were excellent. I drove him there and waited for a few hours until I could bring him back to the monastery. As if that were not enough, he has to have a thorough eye examination tomorrow. By the time we returned to the monastery, Lia and Galina were already here, working and also preparing supper for us. At this rate they will really spoil us.

Although I was certain that a good night's rest was in store for me, I was partially mistaken, as I kept awakening throughout the night. On the other hand, it was nice to hear the first birds chirping in the early morning. I must say that there has been little happening this day that would be of any interest to the Daily Diary readers. There are such days when nothing of interest happens. I did read, however, that the Vatican has issued a decree in which it is commanded that all hosts, the little wafers that Catholics use for communion, must contain at least the slightest amount of gluten. I hope that in the next few days I will write something about this subject and post it on YOU ASKED [even though no one asked me anything about it!]

Even after a good night's rest, I did not feel like getting up too early, but there could be no delay, as Sunday has its own schedule. Matins began earlier than usual to accommodate the entire canon, so the service began with open doors to let in the fresh morning air. The male voices at the kliros were especially strong and melodious. We had prayers for travel for Olga and Vanya who are leaving for a two month visit in Riga. The Agape meal was good, as usual, which included vareniki filled with tomatoes, and others with green onions, both of which I had never tried before, but they were delicious. Alex and his wife Lidia returned from China where he lectures at various universities each year. They brought us some prime Chinese tea to be prepared with chrysanthemum flowers. As soon as the Meleti ended, a group of people wanted to have a singing practice that turned out to be useful. Then, after almost everyone had left, I was informed that visitors had arrived, a family of four, originally from Lithuania. As it happened, Lia was still here and she spoke to them in Lithuanian, as she was born there. Yes, it was a long day, but one filled with many people milling present, speaking various languages, including Polish, thus adding to the fulness of our multi-ethnic worshippers.

By nine in the morning some university students arrived to speak with Vladika Lazar about Holy Orthodoxy. While they were in the new church, other visitors arrived from Vancouver, hoping to become acquainted with us and the monastery. While we were conversing in the great hall, little Nikita was brought to be baptized. He and his whole family recently moved here from Calgary, while the godparents drove here from Calgary for this special event. Daniel, the two year old child of the godparents, had been baptized here a couple of years ago, and everyone was in a festive mood. This group of people had scarcely left when Sergey and Anzhela, with Nikolai and Sarah, came to work, soon followed by Anna, Boris and all their children, Boris almost completed the restoration of the electric fence that had been put up around the apple trees, while Nikolai worked on some wiring that Vladika Lazar had wanted to be done. Then, Galina and Lia arrived to help work and to prepare supper for all of us. Before beginning Vespers, a different Galina drove up with her close friend Yulia and daughter Polina, recently arrived from Moscow for a visit, and, lastly, Kirill who was coming aback from a camping trip. It was a delight having everyone here not just for the service, but also for supper which proved to be delicious.

I must have been still asleep when Natalya and Svetlana arrived at the crack of dawn to work outdoors. They weeded, watered, then planted a couple of birch trees, after which they repainted the monastery gates. This is the kind of help we appreciate, as we are aging, and such work becomes more difficult for us. Just as I put the prosphora into the oven to bake, a couple of scantily dressed women drove up, and I thought that I would have to speak to them about our dress standard. But, after they took a few photographs, they departed, soon to be replaced by a location scout from a well known television company, wanting to know if they could use our field for filming. Since Vladika Lazar was away, I gave no answer, leaving the decision for him to make. The first filming done here was by a Vancouver Chinese TV company where the film was in Chinese with English subtitles. The second filming was for the film, "India---Kingdom of the Tigers" an IMAX film that can still be seen on You Tube. For a second day in a row, we have had cold gazpacho soup with freshly baked scones.

It has been another "scorcher" and we tried to keep out of the sun. Our neighbour Andy came over to help and he told us of having seen a mother bear with her little cub and also with last year's cub roaming about our territory. In fact, he claims to have seen them on Sunday, walking amidst the parked cars while people were at the Liturgy. Perhaps there was some food in the car and the bears could smell it. Let this be a warning then: when you leave your vehicle in the parking lot here at the monastery, be sure that there is no food left inside. As well, make certain that the doors are closed in the monastery main building, as people often do not bother to close them. We do not want to see bears wandering into the kitchen!

One of the most difficult aspects of having flower beds is having to constantly water them and even twice a day whenever it is hot, as it has been and will be for the next week or two [maybe even three]. I picked some raspberries and they were delicious. I hope that someone will go out into the field to check on the blueberries, as the early bushes should have some ripe berries. Otherwise, it has been quiet with only one visitor who came to have a moleben served. Thomas saw a coyote on the lower lawn this afternoon; perhaps it was after the one rabbit that has been hiding in the bramble bushes.

I was confused last evening when I received a telephone call, for I did not recognize the voice and, ultimately, decided that it was someone else. It was a request to come here this morning to pray and to receive a blessing for travel. That in itself is quite regular, but to my surprise, it turned out to be Temur and Nino, our dear Georgian friends who are travelling back to Calgary and with them was Sophia, originally from Kazakhstan, also travelling with them. We had a wonderful time reminiscing about old times, so to speak, and about how their sons Kakha and Mikhail, together with Gigla, had built the altar in the new church, after having completed the belfry. We are, of course, indebted to them eternally for their great contribution. Another book, " Icon As Scripture", has been sent off to Create Space, so that now we do not have to worry about ever reprinting and binding copies, as this service prints books and readies them in one day, also shipping them anywhere in the world.

It felt refreshing to have had a sound sleep after such a busy and tiring Sunday, thus it was easy to get out of bed and face a new day. Visitors soon arrived from Vancouver and from Alberta, bearing gifts of food, about two dozen special melons, bags of nuts and many containers of fruit juice. I appreciate that people want to donate something and usually food is what we can use, although we have been given such things as a dozen pie servers, three pasta makers etc. Recently we were given a hundred pound bag of whey powder which undoubtedly will last us a decade! When I opened the freezer, before my eyes was halibut, such a delicious fish. The visitors showed us a photograph of their Black Russian Terrier, a gorgeous dog, bred for work and protection. It is so huge that police had come to warn them of a loose black bear in their back yard! Father Moses and Thomas set out on a hospital visit and have not yet returned.

This is the Canada Day weekend, the weather is splendid and people are enjoying this holiday by visiting, camping or taking trips, yet I was pleased to see how many people came to church for the Divine Liturgy. It was good to see Liudmila who just returned from a long stay in Russia, Natalya from Moscow, Alexandra and her daughters from Toulouse in France and all the "regulars" if I can call them that. I was surprised to see how many people were in the kitchen, getting food ready for the Agape meal. Vladika Lazar had to cancel his Meletii because he was suddenly overcome with dizziness, no doubt the result of the heat. A little later I went to the Church of the Holy Relics to baptize four year old Daria, Alexandra's daughter from Toulouse. Some late visitors dropped in and we sat and chatted over yet another cup of coffee. Then, a large group of local Russian Orthodox Old Ritualists came with their priest from Oregon. Their bishop and metropolitan, unfortunately, were unable to come, as they had to set out drive to Hines Creek in northern Alberta. We had invited this group to come to receive some small portions of relics of Saints from the Kiev Caves Lavra, as we knew that they would have great reverence for these ancient saints from the 11th to the 14th centuries. They served a moleben in the ancient Russian form and it was a beautiful sight seeing the women in long robes and large head coverings. Even the little children were able to read and recite many of the prayers. By early evening I felt exhausted, yet is has been a completely satisfying day, full of joy, happiness and a feeling of thanksgiving for all that our Lord, Jesus Christ has given us.

Here we are on the first of July, Canada's national holiday and, to make it a special event, it is Canada's 150 birthday. Although it is a birthday, no one seems to have given or received any gifts, although perhaps the best gift of all is that we are so fortunate to be living here in Canada. The day has been busy, first with receiving visitors from Europe, then welcoming a large group of Coptic high school students who came with their priest to visit the monastery. Each year, at least once if not twice, Coptic young people come to visit us. They are always polite, yet full of energy as befits a younger generation. Galina, Lia and Gintas came to help us indoors and outdoors, in addition to preparing a healthy and lenten supper for us.

It is the last day of June and I wonder why time is passing by so quickly. There is nothing that we can do about it, but to maker the most of our time. We took food for the street people in Abbotsford, then returned to the monastery where we had to water the plants, a never ending task, although one that produces great results. We had fewer visitors today, but plans were made for both a marriage and a baptism. We picked some black currents and strawberries, just enough to sample and enjoy. Vladika Lazar is out in the field this moment, mowing hay with his beloved tractor.

Today proved to be interesting in that there were emails from various countries and an especially good one from Russia from a kind friend who reads the Daily Diary every day! I wonder how many others do the same. As well, we had visitors from Germany and Serbia, thus giving us the opportunity to practise our Serbian and German, and actually, we did fairly well, even if I say so myself. Then, we received a young Australian cyclist who has put up his little tent on the upper lawn. We offered him a cot in the bunk room but he preferred to stay in his tent. Let us hope that the mosquitoes do not get to him.

Something as necessary as watering plants consumed a lot of time since we now have numerous flower beds and berry bushes planted everywhere. It is most interesting to watch how they grow and what they produce. Andy has graded our road even though it was still in good condition. It was Father Moses and Thomas who did hospital visiting today and I was pleased to see that they actually were anxious to do it.

Today's weather could not have been more perfect and it set us out on a particularly positive note. No visitors came so that we could concentrate on the work that we had to do which is not always possible, not knowing who might pop up at any given moment. Lia and Galina had done so much work over the weekend that we could free ourselves from some of this work. Another hospital visit was in order and now we are awaitimg Vladika Lazar'a name day which falls tomorrow, the feast of Martyr Lazar of Kosovo.

What a difference a few degrees of cooler weather can make and how much more energy we have suddenly acquired. Today's visitors have been most interesting, coming from Switzerland and Russia and, since this is being written early in the day, there will surely be more visitors by eventide. Perhaps this is what makes life here at the monastery so interesting; people of all sorts and from all places come here, and interacting with them can be very satisfying. More helpers came to tend the flower beds and to water the plants, something we must do daily and even twice daily.

Since today is the last Sunday of the month, the services were in Church Slavonic and the readers showed up very early to begin Matins, which was served in its entirety, including the reading of three canons. Because of the heat wave, it became quite hot in church with one person even fainting, yet we all managed fairly well, despite the heat. Both in the church and in the hall, the windows and doors were kept closed due to the appearance of the nasty mosquitoes that will remain with us for about three more weeks. That is the price we have to pay for living in the country. After the Agape meal, Vladika Lazar held his usual Meleti, while I took a group of people down to the reception room where it is always much cooler to serve a moleben. Galina and Lia stayed until past nine in the evening to clean up, and to bring everything into order and also to water the flower beds to keep them from drying out. And so, another wonderful Sunday was spent when we welcomed two new families and visitors from Northern B.C.

Gerasimos, Andrew and Luke arrived later in the morning to do some work, especially to cut grass, but they soon discovered that the tractor mower was out of commission. Ordinarily that would have presented a problem but Andrew, a recent graduate in heavy machinery mechanics, quickly solved the problem and soon the mower was once again in operation. I am not sure how we were able to endure the heat [and tomorrow promises to be even hotter] but some dear women came to our rescue and helped us, including preparing a wonderful supper which ended with a raw [uncooked] nut cake that was superb.

The women were correct when they said that they would arrive early this morning, which they did. In addition they worked almost non stop for the entire day, allowing themselves a short break for lunch. One of the women brought along her two young boys who are now out of school, and I saw them wiping, cleaning and doing various tasks that they would not have done at home, but they were willing to do so here at the monastery. Poor Father Moses has been suffering all day because of his arthritis and any arthritic person could vouch for the pain that can be experienced. Daniel, our supervisor of mousetraps, caught five this morning so he had to reset them in the event that there are more around.

Part of the morning was set aside for hearing confessions, after which a hospital visit took place. The day has been bright and sunny and I enjoyed taking a brief drive through the residential area of Abbotsford which is spreading out and covering the hills. I bought a copy of the Globe and Mail today because it has an extensive article on artists painting on the side of buildings. One such artist is Ilya Viryachev, whose mother is Natasha, one of the organizers of events here at the monastery. In fact, she sometimes helps him with his painting. If you have a chance to see it, do so, perhaps even going to the public library to find today's issue.

Summer is here, officially at least, and it has been a beautiful day, although we were warned that a heat wave is approaching. Some unfamiliar birds and butterflies have appeared, as well as the common mosquitoes that have yet to prove, once again, their savagery. We are less bothered by them than the city folk who are not used to them, as we have no spraying programme to eliminate these horrid pests. The planned baptism for tomorrow has been changed, so we shall not have to hurry in the morning. The baptism will take place a little later on. For supper we had a dry Portuguese soup which is nothing like a soup, but a baked dish so delicious and so completely lenten that one could live on it for months at a time.

The day's gentle drizzle came to a sudden end, and summer's heat rushed in, making us somewhat confused and wondering if the heat is too sudden. Our crows kept cawing for hours , probably attempting to drive away enemies or else warning their own about something. At any rate, it did become tiresome. Otherwise, the day has been quiet and I can honestly say that not too much was accomplished, but there are such days, not like others when one has scarcely a minute in which to rest. My faithful little camera died last Saturday and I did began to mourn but Vladika Lazar was able to revive it, so now I can continue to take excellent photos with it. It is a tiny, flat Kodak camera that is difficult to find but is extremely versatile.

Plans for a restful day did not materialize, for visitors arrived fairly early and also energy seemed to be at a low level. All the baptismal certificates were done and, I must say, they are quite elegant. We made a hospital visit which, like most such visits, is not exactly uplifting, but patients need the comfort and support of all their friends and acquaintances. Some women are making plans to come here this Friday to try to complete as much work outdoors as possible before the summer heat arrives.

Last night, when I was ready to retire for the night, I suddenly realized that no prosphora had been baked, so instead of going to sleep, I had to prepare a prosphora which took quite some time. This happened only once before and then I had to bake it early Sunday morning, making it too fresh to use in the Proskomedia. In all of yesterday's commotion, I had completely forgotten about the prosphora. We had fewer people this Sunday, yet many came from great distances. The Agape meal was pleasant, although a little noisy, and after most of the people left, we had another baptism, making it four baptisms in two days with another one coming up later this week. No rest was possible, as people kept dropping in until evening, and that is how it should be.

I am still awake this evening even though so much has happened during the day. To begin with, we had a baptism in the morning of seven month old Simeon who was brave throughout the service. In the afternoon we had a double baptism of Maria from San Salvador and her young daughter Camilla, then the marriage of Maria and Virgil, with a reception after so that the whole afternoon was one service after another. Needless to say, that by the time we began to serve Vespers, we were tired, yet later we sat and had tea and freshly baked bread with visitors until I finally had to excuse myself, or else I might have fallen asleep at the table. These are the moments I most cherish when we can sit at a table, drinking tea and discussing all possible matters.

Just as we began planning our day's work, we were suddenly visited by Lia and Katya, who brought along cleaning supplies and who began to do a professional job, first cleaning our two refrigerators and discarding anything that looked beyond redemption, then attacking every carpet with the vacuum cleaners. As well, they have prepared supper for us which we will be eating in a few minutes. When I peeked into the refrigerators, I was startled to see how sparkling every shelf was, in fact, it looked looked like an advertisement out of a magazine. There really is nothing like a woman's hand in bringing something like this into shape! I am looking forward to supper, as amongst us there will be a number of languages in use, or at least that can be used: English, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Chinese, Tamil, Danish and even some French, with a smattering of other languages.

A shipment of supplies arrived today from Festal Creations. For many years we have been supplied by this amazing outlet, owned and operated by an old friend, Phil Tamoush, in California. I would strongly recommend that you look it up at: www.festalcreations.com/ because everything is easily affordable and the service is good. Many items are half the price, and even less, of what one can find in other church supply catalogues. Even though it is cool and raining, the foxgloves are spectacular, the best that we have seen in years. For supper we had an Azerbaijani/Persian cold cucumber soup with fried potatoes on the side---very yummy!

I can scarcely believe how quickly the entire valley is changing and the rustic country feeling is being replace by rows of housing as I witnessed today on a drive through the southern part of the valley. At least the area where our monastery is located has not felt this type of development. Daniel, the son of Sorin and Georgeta, a young football player in Germany visited us today with his girl friend and we had a great time, trying to use our German. People keep us informed whenever they see him playing in Europe and we are quite proud of him.

It was a day for visiting my doctor who is a specialist, and because he is on call, there are times when one has to wait hours. This time it was less than an hour and it was a good visit. He tries his best to keep an eye on me and I will be back to see him this autumn. As it happened, Vladika Lazar had an appointment with him as well, but in the early afternoon and he, too, had to wait, so that we did not accomplish much other than sit in the doctor's office. On the other hand, Svetlana spent at least eight hours with her weed eater and now the lower terrace, once overgrown and inhospitable, looks admirable. I do not know where she could get so much energy but, as she says, just coming out to the monastery gives her all the energy that she needs.

After yesterday's most hectic day, we did not accomplish much today, rather, we rested and tended to the least burdensome chores. Daniel cleaned the kitchen from floor to ceiling as he usually does after each weekend. The kitchen does need tending to on Mondays, as there is so much activity in it on Sundays. At one point yesterday, I noticed at least eight , if not nine, women washing, drying, sorting and so forth after the evening meal. We really do appreciate their dedication. Yesterday Joana made a tour of the property and she noticed that Andy and some of his friends planted a small vegetable garden near the barn. She advised him to cover the tomato plants with plastic, otherwise they would suffer in the rain. One of the first things that I noticed this morning was a plastic covering over the tomato plants. Taking Joana's advice was proper, as she is an excellent gardener.

Today was to be the important day of June and we prepared for it to the very last moment. Volunteers had come to cut the grass, weed the flower beds, transplant flowers and shrubs and, in general, to clean up as much as possible. The day began overcast and it remained thus for part of the day, although the sun did come out as we had hoped. After the Divine Liturgy a splendid Agape meal was served. Many people sat outdoors, waiting for the Healing Service to begin, while others cleaned up after the meal. There were a number of requests for prayers and also the blessing of the two new crosses that had recently been erected. As the time for the beginning of the service approached, there seemed to be few people around, but within minutes they began flocking into the new church which soon was filled, making it extremely hot or, as I also said, perhaps it was partially due to all the fervent praying. We were pleased to have Father Michael of Vancouver and Father Mattheew and Subdeacon Barnabas of Chilliwack with us for the Healing Service. At its conclusion we processed to the memorial in the field where a brief moleben was served and, accompanied by the ringing of the monastery bells, everyone walked back except for me. I had become very tired by this point and Sergei gave me a lift in his car. Someone jokingly said that I should have a golf cart for such times. Upon their return to the church, each person was anointed by each of the clergy and it seemed that the line would never end, for the crowd was huge. A meal followed with some people remaining to clean up. We want to thank Father Michael, Father Matthew and Subdeacon Barnabas for joining us in this annual event at the monastery. We also want to thank all the volunteers who worked so hard to prepare food and to clean up at the end of the day, as well as those who brought an abundant supply of food. By late evening we were exhausted, yet filled with great joy that we had been granted another spiritual highlight, and now we can think about next year's annual Healing Service. May God grant us all Many Years!

One might say that today was completely dedicated to preparations for tomorrow. There was a long list of tasks that had to be completed, from vacuuming, mopping,scrubbing to sweeping outdoors and getting outdoor tables and chairs ready. By evening all was done, or so it would seem. And, by that time, pilgrims arrived from Vancouver and Victoria to be here for tomorrow's Healing Service. In the kitchen there also was a lot of activity, for we never know how much food will be brought and one must show monastic hospitality by having enough food to feed everyone who comes. Thus, we now have half a dozen giant-sized roasting pans with food for the two meals tomorrow. In the event that there is not enough, we can quickly boil some vareniki [pierogies] as there must be a couple of hundred in the freezer.

I picked up the tablets with names for the two crosses that were put up, one for an elderly gentleman who died recently and the other for Valentina, the mother of our reader Dima. Thomas quickly put them up and cleaned the area around all the crosses so that they can be blessed this Sunday. A number of visitors dropped by for prayers and to light some candles. Later in the afternoon we served a memorial service for a young woman who went to Europe and suddenly died there and she has no one to pray for her. In your prayers remember the newly departed Valentina. A few "Fresh Fruit and Vegetable" stalls have sprung up along our highway, but it is amusing to note that our area has no locally produced fruit or vegetables and will not have any for a month at least. At any rate, they are not advertising locally grown pineapples!

This morning I drove Father Moses to the clinic where we expected him to have an operation only to discover that it was a consultation, and that the actual event would take place at the end of July. He was satisfied with the specialist's explanations which were quite detailed and, as a matter of interest, the latter is an assistant to the specialist who reconstructed Vladika Lazar's face after he fell ten metres onto an old tree stump and had his face smashed. It took 16 metal plates to reconstruct Vladika's face, and the result has been unbelievably successful. Because he was nervous, Father Moses had eaten nothing, so after the consultation I offered to take him somewhere to eat and he chose an old favourite of ours where he had a spinach omelette with hash brown potatoes and toast, a full meal that he really enjoyed. I had a Belgian waffle. It has been drizzling all day and we noticed a couple of spots where there is a bit of leakage, so we shall have to get Dan, the roof repair man, to correct them.

Since we expect many people to be here this Sunday with two meals to be served, our storage cupboard had to be examined and it was fairly bare. Our local Superstore carries most of the supplies that we need, so we bought hundreds of dinner plates, dessert plates, soup bowls, cutlery and cups, to mention a few things. The cashier asked, "Expecting a lot of people, are you?" To say the least, all that was bought could scarcely fit in the large shopping cart. While downtown, a woman approached me and said, "I love your beard" to which I answered, without thinking, "Well, you cannot have it!" I suddenly realized that it was not the most polite answer, but she laughed as she walked away.

Our dear volunteers arrived at six in the morning, so they must have arisen at four to get ready and to drive here from the city. The grass was cut in the enclosed area behind my cottage where the wonderful organic apples grow, as well a some cherries and figs [it might be too early to tell, but I think that the Greek fig tree is going to do better than the Turkish one this year, and for what reason, I do not know]. Andy wants to repair the damage that the bears did last year to the electric fence so that we do not lose any of the delicious fruit. The ladies have planted a row of special potatoes and some corn which is something that we had not done before. More enriched soil and wood chips were brought so that eventually we shall have a park-like entrance. Natasha gave us a tip on how to prolong the blooming period for poppies and columbines and, if it works, I will be really pleased, as we have a sea of golden poppies, and many blue and purple columbines. We are still eating leftovers from yesterday's feast and there is enough left for tomorrow, so that we will not have to prepare anything for a period of three or four days. I have to keep reminding myself that this week is fast free.

We served a Liturgy, this being the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit and we also remembered Father James and Presbytera Irene Matta, as it is their feast day today in southern California. It is a pity that they live so far away. After the Liturgy we had the crowning of a marriage with all the relatives present. It took place today because it was the only day that all were not working. Naturally, a big feast was brought and we ate in the comfort of the refectory rather than in the large hall. All the greenery that had been put up yesterday had to be removed this morning, for it had not just wilted, but actually dried, and so it could have been dangerous with the nearby burning candles.

Some comments were made about how cool it was this morning and some even wanted to have the air conditioner turned off in the church, but I refused because as soon as the church fills up the temperature increases significantly. It was a beautiful service with greenery [even long branches taken from maple trees] set about the church. After all, it is commonly known as Green Sunday. During the Pentecost prayers I was not able to make a prostration because of my condition and I happened to look at the congregation where every single person made a full prostration with foreheads on the floor, as it is expected in traditional Orthodox churches. During the Agape meal it became noisy, in the positive sense, with everyone enjoying each other's company.

Now, this is what I could call a busy day. In the morning we prepared for the wedding of Arseniy and Kristina who arrived at noon after all the guest had gathered. The ceremony was moving and yet relaxed. Except for a couple of men who wore dark suits, all the young men were in grey suits which made me ask one of them if this is the colour in style for suits this year. A number of the women wore burgundy or mauve coloured dresses. Vera made another one of her famous wedding cakes but I did not see it, as the reception took place at home and we had to stay behind for a large memorial service later in the day. That also was enjoyable, for it brought together many people whom we had seen for some time and, as well, they brought a lot of food to feed us for the memorial supper. All in all, it has been a wonderful day with enough pleasant memories to last us for a long time.

Today's clement weather has brought out the farmer or lover of nature in each of us. Thomas was on the tractor mower, working in areas that had been left earlier, while Vladika Lazar took the tractor into the field just before sunset. Thomas and Father Moses also went to the remains of the blueberry patch to weed around each berry bush. We hope that this year's crop of berries will be as good as it was last year. Originally, the blueberry patch was large but, after the old tractor ceased to exist, brambles overtook the area which was almost impossible to penetrate. Now the patch has a new life and we look forward to the new crop. By the way, the berries are totally organic, never having being sprayed with anything and, in fact, never watered, as enough moisture is obtained from the nearby stream.

Yesterday I regretted the loss of May, but today I readily greeted the first day of June, a month associated with everything that is fresh and luxuriant with the full enjoyment of early summer. Dan, the roofing man, was back to work on the soffits and drains which should clear up some of the problems we had. Thomas has put up the memorial crosses and, now that the entire east lawn has been mowed, it all looks picture perfect. Arseny and Kristina, together with their witnesses, came for the wedding rehearsal and to finalize the wedding plans. They surely will have a beautiful wedding as befits this lovely young couple.

We have reached the last day of the month of May, a month that has always been associated with blooming flowers and bushes, and it is no wonder that it has been called "the merry month of May". A lone rabbit amused us by hopping about the lawn which is fine, as long as it does not eat the tender plants that the women had transplanted recently. The man who bought the local grocery store also has a roofing business, so he came to the monastery today to finish the soffits on the belfry, and to improve the eaves and drains. After mentioning the problem of missing tools and equipment yesterday, we were pleased to find some being returned today, and definitely not by those who had read the Daily Diary.

A very early call from Natasha asked about the weather here in Dewdney, which actually was cool and overcast but with no rain. Closer to Vancouver it had already begun to rain, but she and Svetlana drove here and worked for a long time, transplanting flowers and concentrating on keeping the soil damp by using grass that had been cut earlier as a cover. Thomas embedded supports for the memorial crosses that will be put up soon; they might also have to be painted once more. Although I did not see her, the sister of Jon and Judith is visiting in this area, and they all came down to the monastery for a short visit. She is presently in Churchill Manitoba, on Hudson Bay, where polar bears are the main tourist attraction.

MONDAY 29 MAY 2017
Yesterday and today have been the hottest days of this year and, consequently, we have been wilting from the heat. It appears that rain is on the way, at last! A great problem that we have is with tools disappearing, either being used by someone then not put away, or worse, they just vanish forever. We shall have to gather them all and lock them in the safety of the workshop, not allowing others to use the key to the door. Large monasteries usually have a monk who is in possession of the main keys. I recall visiting a women's monastery in Greece where the nun in charge of the keys came out with about three dozen keys, some of them four or five inches long, all on a large ring, to unlock the door to a small but ancient church. Perhaps that might solve the problem of missing tools.

SUNDAY 28 MAY 2017
We have been given another bright, sunny and hot weekend, as was witnessed by the fewer people in church. Many of our "regulars" were absent, but then, a number of new faces appeared. I cannot say that the air conditioner worked that well and some men suggested getting together and installing a proper one. Well, even if one is not installed, we surely can endure the three hours of heat in church. Tables and chairs were set out yesterday, but most preferred to stay indoors for the Agape meal. Dozens and dozens of books were put out and many were taken, although I am not certain what we can do with the rest. I was not involved in the conversation, but it seems that there are four if not five baptisms planned for the next month and, of course, we will have a wedding next weekend. All that should keep us busy.

We are adjusting to the heat wave that is beginning to come upon us and we should not complain after the wet and soggy spring that we had. Some women arrived at six o'clock in the morning to do gardening work, seeding, transplanting, weeding and hauling compost and wood chips. It was amazing to watch them as they did not stop for a moment and, a little past noon, they put away all the equipment and left for home. I honestly do not know where they could find such energy, but bless them for all the work that they have done. Marina and Sergey came for Vespers, bringing food for and, as it happened, we had some Bulgarians who came as well, so all of us had a pleasant meal at which we sat for a couple of hours, enjoying the conversation. Daniel's bread proved to be a hit with everyone, and they took home the recipe for this bread. Tables and lawn chairs were cleaned so that people could sit outdoors tomorrow.

FRIDAY 26 MAY 2017

FRIDAY 26 MAY 2017
Yesterday, at about mid evening, we suddenly lost our power but I did not report it, as usually many others phone it to inform of the outage. We were in darkness all night and this morning Daniel went for an early stroll only to discover that a line was lying across our road. Then I did have to make a quick call to have a repair crew come. It appears that an old tree, weakened by the strong wind last week, had toppled over and pulled away the power and telephone lines. The crew quickly repaired the damage but we would have had to call out others about the telephone line, as the problem was on our territory. The operator, however, did us a favour by hooking up the telephone line as well, and thus saved us considerable money. Both Thomas and Daniel, with the help of Father Moses, were of great help in this unfortunate occurrence. We selected dozens of books that we will give away on Sunday after the Agape meal. Our library is crowded, and shelves and storage spaces in the other buildings are crammed.

Yesterday, at about mid evening, we suddenly lost our power but I did not report it, as usually many others phone it to inform of the outage. We were in darkness all night and this morning Daniel went for an early stroll only to discover that a line was lying across our road. Then I did have to make a quick call to have a repair crew come. It appears that an old tree, weakened by the strong wind last week, had toppled over and pulled away the power and telephone lines. The crew quickly repaired the damage but we would have had to call out others about the telephone line, as the problem was on our territory. The operator, however, did us a favour by hooking up the telephone line as well, and thus saved us considerable money. Both Thomas and Daniel, with the help of Father Moses, were of great help in this unfortunate occurrence. We selected dozens of books that we will give away on Sunday after the Agape meal. Our library is crowded, and shelves and storage spaces in the other buildings are crammed.

We celebrated the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, one of the twelve great feast days of the Orthodox Church. Some people took the day off from work just to be present for the service which was really well attended. Although it has been a bright and warm day, it was pleasantly cool in the church. I believe that Thomas brought out the air conditioner and took it to the church to install it there. It should be most welcome this Sunday, as we are told that it will be very hot over the weekend. After mowing the lawns, there was so much grass piled up that we were not sure what to do with it, but then I saw what the women did with much of it yesterday. They used it as mulch to cover the ground where they had weeded and planted more berries. I think that we are gradually winning the battle with the nasty starlings and their squawking seems to have vanished.

Our women volunteers came out with an array of flowers and bushes to plant here at the monastery. A couple of flower beds were made and a lower level plateau near the water was used for planting berry bushes. They had Thomas and Daniel carting wheelbarrow loads of compost and chips for this purpose. We also had a pleasant visit from a Serbian priest who had wanted to visit us and I made Serbian coffee for all. Jon sent a note about the cat house he had built, which I will print in its entirety: "I had made the insulated inner layer for it hastily in the middle of the cold snap in winter, but didn't have all that's needed for weatherproofing it, so it sat inside the porch out of the wet and kept the cats warm for the winter [they adored it]. Just the other day we wanted to make the porch area more usable, so I got the exterior layer on and put it outside. It'll get less use in the summer [well, we'll see] but it is a safe space for them at night."

I saw the little cat house that Jonathan made for our two cats. If you can picture a cottage somewhere in Greece or Italy, perched on the side of a mountain, made of grey coloured stone with a slanting red tile roof, you will then have an idea of this house. There are no windows or chimney, although there is a movable door. I do not know if the cats have moved in yet, but they should be comfortable. Alas, there will be no air conditioning for them in the heat of summer. Father Moses came back from the doctor's office to inform us that he has cancer. A growth on the side of his face became larger and all of it could not be removed, so he will be referred to a dermatologist. Please pray for him. He has had skin cancer a number of times since coming here from California many years ago and each time he has done well. He serves molebens and memorial services every day and it is time for us to pray for his good health.

MONDAY 22 MAY 2017
I suppose that one could call today a "scorcher" but it was delightful. It also happened to be Lia's birthday, so a larger number of people arrived with food to celebrate. We served a moleben for health and thanksgiving, after which we had a banquet. Later, many of us sat outdoors, enjoying the pleasant breeze while conversing in several languages. Although I did nothing physical, the fresh air and company made me quite tired, but ever so content. Thomas got the John Deere tractor mower out and began mowing the lawns, making them look neat and giving the fragrance of freshly cut grass which reminds me of freshly cut hay. Since this is Victoria Day, a holiday, people kept dropping in all day to say prayers and to light candles.

SUNDAY 21 MAY 2017
This is the Victoria Day long weekend, so many people have gone camping or just travelling, as it is the first long weekend that is so pleasant and warm. Still, we had many who came to church. Vladika Lazar began serving the Divine Liturgy but could not carry on, for his feet were troubling him terribly and so I had to step in. And, would you not know it, my hip began to bother me, so that both of us were in bad shape. Yet, the service went well and, after the Agape meal, we had the crowning of a marriage. It was delightful, informal and meaningful. Vera prepared a three tier cake that was out of this world. We welcomed some new people who promised to come again, and to help with the upkeep of the monastery grounds. A few more plants were brought to transplant in the cool of the evening.

Each day I seem to have mentioned something about the weather, but I will not do so now, other than to let you know that I hauled out the big floor fan to make it more comfortable in my study. We had another joyous baptism today of seven month old Melanie, whose behaviour was great. It was rather difficult with the tonsure though, as her hair is extremely short. The numerous photos I took yesterday of flowers and bushes here at the monastery were so good that Vladika Lazar made them into a slide show which you can see on our various sites. I use a tiny Kodak camera, probably the size of a medium sized oatmeal cookie, but it does very well and, being very thin, I can easily carry it about with me. I understand that Jon is making a special house for our two cats that has two apartments, one for each of the cats.

FRIDAY 19 MAY 2017
Yes, indeed, we are beginning to feel the heat and it will be getting hotter with each passing day. I think that we are dealing with the starling problem and, after tomorrow's repairing of a board that had been blown off during a storm some time ago, we might finally have relief from these wretched birds. Chris brought back the Jeep, having removed the winter tires and put on new summer ones, so it should be running in top form now. Thomas has attacked the tall grass growing around the memorial crosses and he will give the tractor mower a run as well. Our neighbour spread slurry [liquid cow manure] on his field so that we had a most pungent smell in the air all day. By the end of tomorrow, it should return to normal, but this is what one can expect surrounded by dairy farms.

Would you believe me if I said that I began complaining about the heat? Yes, it turned warm and even hot at times, and that is when I caught myself wishing for some cooler weather, when just recently I continued to complain about the rain and cold. Some of us are never satisfied. We baptized little Zoya [Zoe] today and she smiled throughout the entire service. In fact, when she felt herself being immersed in the warm water, she almost fought to stay in it, rather than fussing as many babies do. Her behaviour was remarkable, pleasing all those who were in attendance. Immediately after the baptism, the table was covered with food that was brought for this occasion and we enjoyed a lengthy visit with the family and the God parents. We had a taste of the bread that Daniel baked today and I must say that it is quite delicious with a strong overtone of molasses.

Thomas has boarded up the small area where the starlings have chosen as an avian abode. It might sound cruel to chase them away, but they are nasty and filthy little beasts, even though they might look attractive to some. Daniel has promised to look at another spot where they have found refuge, but this site will require a tall ladder. We were informed that this weekend we should be getting a number of snapdragons and petunias to transplant, that is, someone else will do the transplanting as my gardening days are drawing to a close and, instead, I would rather just sit in the garden and enjoy all the beauty found there. Our main door has been changed and now the new one looks quite regal, yet inviting. We thank the many people who have come to help us both indoors and outside, for without this assistance it would be difficult for us.

When I arose this morning I could hear the birds serenading us, the loudest being the robins, followed by others, most of which I could not identify, although the dove's cooing was unmistakable. Even the crow's harsh cry was welcome, as was the unmistakable metallic and rough cry of the raven. The northern flickers are here, almost as large as a dove, but scarcely making any sound. Then, when I stepped outside, I could see a large Canada goose swimming in the water, a place usually visited by ducks. Father Moses and Thomas went out on a hospital visit, we went for provisions, so that almost no one was left at the monastery. We had hoped that our neighbour Andy would come to assist us, but we later found out that he had to rush a neighbouring child to the hospital after he was badly scalded with boiling water.

MONDAY 15 MAY 2017
I think that today has been more of a day of rest and recovery after a busy weekend. We are still marvelling at the amount of work that was done on Saturday and the promises made to return to continue such work. And, as mentioned yesterday, we were pleased to have had Father John and Matushka Anna visit us; it is a pity that they live so far away. I cannot say that much was accomplished today, but Mondays are usually a day of rest for us and thus we often relish the thought of little happening during this day. Still, there was time to make a hospital visit and to tend to some office work that cannot be postponed. Hundreds of small mushrooms have popped up in Vladika Lazar's little garden, no doubt because of the wood chips that had been scattered there last year. The problem is that we hesitate to pick them as they could easily be noxious and no one is here to advise us.

SUNDAY 14 MAY 2017
Today was celebrated as Mothers' Day throughout the country but here in the Orthodox Church we celebrated the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman with a splendid sermon given by Vladika Lazar, a sermon that had people discussing it during the Agape meal. Father John and Matushka Anna Bingham, together with their son Tomas, were present for the Divine Liturgy and they were able to visit with old acquaintances during the meal. Our tonsured readers have been suggesting that perhaps we could begin Matins earlier by half an hour or even an entire hour, so that the canons could be read in their entirety. I feel that if they wish to do that, I would certainly encourage them. The humming bird feeder was recently hung outdoors, attracting these remarkable birds, and I can watch them while seated in the arm chair and looking out the large window.

It has been a remarkable day, for we had two baptisms, one in the morning that was peaceful and one in the afternoon that was not, that is, the child thought he was going to be given shots as he recently had them and so was full of apprehension. Still, both events were joyous although the sound of three chain saws was somewhat disturbing. About sixteen people showed up for the work party, most of them men who immediately began to clear the area behind the main building and to cut up the huge tree that had been felled last autumn. The sound of the buzzing saws continued all afternoon. The women prepared a meal for everyone and enough was left over for a second meal in the evening. The women also did weeding and other outdoor work that had been neglected because of the rain. I was touched to hear people say how much they enjoyed working all day and, even though they did get tired, they were energized by this work. Late in the day we were visited by Father John and Matushka Anna Bingham of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, very dear friends of our who are on a brief visit to British Columbia. They are happy living where they are, but we do wish that they were nearer to the monastery

FRIDAY 12 MAY 2017
I was informed that there were no forks left in the hall. It did not occur to me to check our supplies after the huge crowd that was here last Sunday. Indeed, there were exactly four forks left, so a shopping list had to be prepared: at least one box of 400 forks, more cups, soup bowls, dinner plates and dessert plates. We once tried to use recyclable dishes but it was beyond us and we cannot exactly ask all guests and visitors to bring their own dishes and cutlery. The gift shop has been improved and many articles added to it. We received telephone calls about tomorrow's work party, as there is concern about possible rain and, if it does occur, how much work might be done outdoors. Still, the brave and the hearty will be here, no matter what and work will be waiting for all of us. It was a shock to do some shopping today---$5.00 for a head of lettuce! What is happening? Mind you, it was an upscale shop, but even so, it was a surprise. On the other hand, our old fashioned green grocer here in town is always helpful and he does try to keep prices reasonable.

We placed an order for crosses, chains, etc. with our favourite source---Festal Creations---which you can find on the Internet, as our supplies had been running low. Yet, at almost the same time, we were given a huge quantity of similar objects, quite unexpectedly, but most appreciated. Before long our small gift shop will be bulging with objects for purchase. There must be some law that states that whenever one is asked for a specific icon, for example, it usually is the very one that is not available or else sold out. We began an overhaul of the gift shop which should be completed by the end of tomorrow. It was good to hear from our friends in Salt Lake City, just as it is to hear from friends from everywhere. If you have not yet seen the videos taken last Sunday at the big event, look them up on YouTube and I think that you will enjoy seeing them.

For those of you who do not receive our Constant Contact, where we make special announcements and appeals, I will basically repeat what it had said. Some women are planning to come this Saturday as a work party but a couple of energetic men arrived today to do some work and they asked if a Constant Contact could be sent out, asking men to come on Saturday as well. Their aim is to clear the branches and wood behind the monastery. The wood can be chopped up later and used in the wood burning stove next winter. Daniel sealed a space where starlings had begun to make a nest. They are pests and, in addition, they make a terrible mess wherever they nest.

Another sunny day! Perhaps we are getting spoiled. Vladika took the tractor out into the field for the first time and I could tell that he really enjoyed being a farmer today. Gerry and Andrew came here this morning to do more mowing and we thank them for that. Andrew had an operation on his leg some time ago and tomorrow he will return to work; he is certainly looking forward to that. Daniel caught sight of a bear on our lawn today, only to realize that it was one of the neighbour's huge dog.We really are uncertain how often, if ever, people look at the schedule of services, but I did suddenly notice that it ended with the month of April, so that now I must get at least May and June ready and have them put up on the website.

Just as I got to the last sentence in yesterday's diary entry, I did something that erased the entire text, so I had to begin anew. I shall try to be more careful this time. We are still reliving the wonderful day that we experienced yesterday and receiving the most sincere thanks from those who had attended. We must thank all those who worked so hard to ensure the success of the event. Today a woman, who could not be present yesterday because of her work, came to tend to the necessary weeding and she also planted a number of flowers. I gather that a work party is planning on coming here on Saturday to do some serious work. Daniel painted more of the outdoor balcony and stairs until he ran out of the special paint that we have used and he also cleaned the carpet where food had been dropped, as well as the kitchen floor that needed a good scrubbing with a dash of bleach or something that smelled like it. Our dove has been serenading us, although we are not certain if it is a dove, or perhaps a turtledove.

This has really been a great day, with the sun shining brightly from early morn to dusk. Even before the service began, we still were rushing about, completing forgotten tasks. Soon, the church was filled , then to overflowing and, when the service was concluded, we waited for a while until the veterans had almost arrived, or so we were told. The Cross Procession is always a highlight of any event here and today was no exception as we made our way down the monastery road to the monument in the field. Once there, we were surprised by a cavalcade of a couple dozen cars that had formed a cavalcade and had driven from Coquitlam. Then the bus arrived, bearing the veterans and other visitors. Thereupon began the memorial service, followed by word of greetings and, finally, the planting of a flowering plum tree. We knew of this tree, but were unaware of two others that been brought, a Siberian birch and a mountain ash that will be planted tomorrow. After the Cross Procession returned to the monastery, we went to the hall for the festive meal that had been prepared. Naturally, only some of the people could be seated there, so the rest ate outdoors, which was perfect, considering the favourable weather. A choir of about twenty five people thrilled us with their singing, then others joined this concert. After they had left, we were surprised to hear them singing outside, so we went to the balcony to watch and hear them. The last of the visitors left at seven o'clock in the evening. Our neighbour Andy came out with his two huge dogs, that behaved very well, to observe the festivities and he claims that there were at least three hundred people who had come over the course of the day. He must be right, because it felt as if there were that many present. Anyway, evening has come and we are tired, yet rejoicing in the perfect day that has passed, and we thank all those who worked so hard to make today so successful. Now we can go to sleep and have pleasant dreams.

All I can say about today is that most of the time was spent hurrying about, trying to prepare everything for Sunday. It seems that no matter how much one attempts to do, some things are forgotten. Anyway, Vladika Lazar and I went to Vancouver to attend the concert commemorating the victory over the Fascists in WWII. Our own Lilia Timoshkina had organized it and it was superb and much enjoyed by the public. It also meant that we arrived back fairly late and it was already time to retire for the night, feeling tired but inspired by today's events.

No, we did not lose our power last night, although we did have a torrential downpour early this morning. Someone telephoned to ask us what the weather was like, to which I answered that we had sunshine for thirty minutes, followed by an hour of rain, and this exchange continued throughout the day. There was time in the afternoon to make a hospital visit and to do some necessary shopping. Alas, chocolates of various kinds keep popping up everywhere in the monastery and we have no idea where they are coming from. We had a telephone call from Paromon, our brilliant engineering student who is studying in northern B.C. and who has come here to the south for the summer. It is such a pleasure to meet with our students, many of whom are studying in universities, colleges, and technical schools, as each one has something of importance to contribute to us and to society as a whole.

What a gorgeous day it has been, actually hot, reaching 26 degrees C [or about 82 F] making it feel like mid summer but, knowing that it would not last very long, we awaited the change which is happening at this very minute. Clouds have appeared and there is thunder in the distance. Vladika Lazar just warned me to hurry with this diary entry before we could possibly lose our power. I took some beautiful photos of flowering shrubs that could appear on our website and also put away, finally, the rest of the books we had used during Great Lent. In the process, I found the cuffs and belt for which I had been been searching for months. For a quick supper we had Russo-Ukrainian galushki, dumplings in a cream of mushroom soup. I know that some of you might argue that it cannot be made with mushroom soup, but just try it and you will be won over.

There was the most unusual mist/haze/light showers [take your pick] this morning that made it impossible to see the nearest mountain across the river. It was much like walking in a dream. In the afternoon I dipped eight rounds of tiny candles, the kind used for birthday cakes, and now I see why I had not done it for so many years, for the work is finicky and tiresome. If anything, I at least got it out of my system and will not have to return to the thought of making them in the future. Daniel painted the ramp yesterday, using a paint that has texture to it so that one will not slip while walking on it. I forgot to look at it today to see if it had dried before today's rain arrived.

It has been a bright, sunny and warm day so that I could easily wash the car, polish it and dry it without worrying about any showers. I also was able to clean up in the "candle factory" which had not been worked in for ages, except for a couple of hours just recently. Once it looked clean again, I cut more wicks and strung them on the dipping rounds. Perhaps next week I shall actually do some dipping. Even the cats have been happy today and, looking out the window, I saw the black and white cat carrying a mouse that she had just caught. No matter how much cat food you give them, they still have an urge to hunt, for which we are grateful, as this spring there has been an abundance of mice everywhere.

An old song begins with...'tis to be the merry month of May...and we shall soon see how merry this month might be. Vladika Lazar asked us to search for a particular book that should have been in our library which we did, searching every shelf. Of course, we found it on the second to the last shelf, after almost having given up several times, but at least it was found. Because of my library experience, I long ago began to catalogue the books but eventually I gave up and never did return to this task. Consequently, they are not always logically arranged. An example of this was finding a copy of the Koran near the books on cookery.

In the past whenever we served the Divine Liturgy in Church Slavonic, the Hours would be read at 9:30. Today, however, Matins began at 8:30 and it was the first time it was served entirely in Slavonic. I must admit that it was done very well and all the participants must be congratulated. After the service we had a memorial litany, particularly for our dear old friend George who passed away four years ago. We still miss him and think of him very often, as he was a good friend of the monastery and a benefactor. People signed a card to send to Svetlana in Volgograd who misses us terribly and is hoping to return to Canada some day.

It was amazing how, in the course of the day, I did not get a single moment of rest, as one group after another came to the monastery, seeking solace, comfort, advice, prayers and blessings. Even though it can be tiring, it is such a comfort to know that there are people who want to reach out for spiritual help and guidance. Natasha and Galina came to help, the former planting three hydrangea bushes while the latter preparing mushroom soup and potato piroshki for our supper. Vlad and Doina came to finish off the troitsa they had made and put up outside last year. The temporary roof was removed and a permanent one put on, looking splendid with shingles and ornamentation. One of these sunny days we shall take a picture of it and post it on our website.

It has been another day without rain and it is beginning to spoil us. The kids visited us and Seraphim worked on my computer, bringing it up to shape. Just overnight, a bush behind the main building has covered itself with bright yellow pompoms. There is much gardening to be done and, fortunately, we have had volunteers to help with that. Tomorrow is to be a work day so we shall see if anyone does show up, because these volunteers have their own gardens to tend to. We were visited by a kind and elderly gentleman who originally came from India. On his last visit to India he bought some special tea to give to us, but, for one reason or another, he was not able to visit us earlier and so, he ended up drinking all the tea himself. At least he enjoyed it. While on the subject of tea, we have at least twenty varieties of tea, both loose and in bags, that have been given to us, enough that we could even open a tea house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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