Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weather Pardox

Do you see the rain streaking past the trees and house?
Sunshine and rain:
A small paradox.

This picture was just to the right of the house in the picture above.
No rain in sight!
I hope everyone had a great Sunday.
It is such a blessing to have Churches to go to.
Next week is Pentecost (today for those on the Western Calendar).
I am looking forward to this great feast.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Beauty of Rain Falling

The other day we had so much rain, it was like
steams of water pouring from
Really beautiful.
Here are some pictures I took from my balcony.

I love the colours of the umbrellas, wet on green or red.

The water on the street - washes everything...

I love the way it glistens and shines.

I love seeing this church in the distance.

Seeing the Cross when I am walking home

is always such a sign of hope.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beauty in the place that I live

A walk with a friend. This is the canal near where I live.

The castle like building you see is the Chateau Laurier,

currently owned by Fairmont Hotels.

It is very beautiful,

nearly worthy of Agatha Christie's At Bertram's Hotel,

one of my favourites of Christie.

I love the descriptions of a more Edwardian time;

It is one of my favourite novels.

I love the discussion Christie was having about time periods,

what was gained and what was lost.

I still love the old things –

Linen napkins, quality dishes, gardens and beautiful things.

This picture does not capture the beauty,

the globes of light on the water,

the architecture.

Beneath the bridge, where I took the other pictures.

Do you see the Canadian Flag, flying on top of the clock tower?

As I grew up in the States,

seeing the Canadian Flag still is a wonder to me.

Learning another culture takes a long time.

It is challenging as the main message I have so far,

about Canada, is that there is no cohesive national identity.

However, I have much to learn and research about Canada,

before I will have a conclusion of my own.

I have lived 5 years plus in British Columbia, on the West Coast,

and 1.4 years in Southwest Ontario and 3 plus years in Ottawa,

which is in Eastern Ontario.

I can say I love living here. I can't say that I know the national anthem though.

I am thankful that I am here.

Wow. The bus I in was sideswiped by a van.

I was (just now) on my way to an appointment; I had just gotten on the bus. After confirming with the bus driver that I was on the right bus, he pulled out. I was not yet sitting and all of a sudden there was a huge BANG. The bus had hit the side of a van, the driver's side window cracked, the bus' side mirrors torn off. I was almost thrown to the ground on impact, but caught a bus rail. The bus driver called his people immediately and had to be told by the police that he need to re-park to not block the road. Police were already there for another incident.

I could tell that the driver was in shock; I am in shock. Hearing the police man tell the driver to stop talking to his person, reminded me of when I got hit by a car all most a year ago. "Madame, get off your cell phone, Madame, we need to talk to you now, Madame."

I got off the bus as soon as I could; went home and called to reschedule my appointment.

My body got wrenched when I was thrown (but caught myself). Good thing I have bath salts.

WOW. Scary. No one was hurt.

We need Jesus and the Holy Angels every moment of our days.

Challenges and Questions

I think the informal interview went well. They have to ensure that the funding will be available before the contract can be offered. I should know by next Tuesday.

I was really exhausted after the interview; it was strange to be back at the library where I started my career. (As it is a government library, it is not open to the public; I had not been back since I left two years ago).

I have a lot of questions yet and I am discovering that they are big questions.

Questions about the meaning of life and one's identity. Work and career in this century define what is means to be a person. I do not think this should be but it must be acknowledged that this happens.

I feel like I am walking around with a tear in the middle of my being - who am I? what does God want me to be? I thought identity crisis happened when someone was, well, older than I.

Questions of can I find a job that will not kill me; will I have to move? None of this is resolved. I love where I may be working. I even learned that the job they would have me in they are making into a real job. Just like last time I was there. The problem: I cannot even apply for the job because I am not bilingual.

This is hard.

I love English literature, but my sense is that the financial risk to try to be a professor, and the grueling pace that is involved, is not something I am up for.

So...if I am supposed to be a librarian, how am I to get a job in Ottawa without intensive French training?

What does it mean to be a working professional? To what am I working towards, other than paying off my school loans and rent and food? What does it mean to be a single Orthodox Christian woman in this century?

These are questions I am asking.

Friday, May 22, 2009

4 Month Contract

I got an unexpected call today from a former employer (government) who I loved working for. They said they have a 4 month casual (as in a short term contract) position that they want me for! The interview would be a formality!

This will give me enough money to live on, save money (in case I do not have work come September) for rent! It means I will not have to move out of my apartment! My little home!

WOW. This is the Lord's incredibly abundant mercy. A job where I know I am well thought of, that I have experience in and that I can walk to. And that I do not even have to have the nervousness of a real job interview. This could not of been better for me to rebuild my confidence and get another job on my resume.

Thank you for your prayers. Please pray for me that I can have a good informal interview (they told me what experience they want me to talk about) and that this can be a really good summer contract for me.

Glory to God!!

The interveiw is this Monday at 3 EST; prayers requested!

Icons Blessing My Small Home

St. Boris and St. Gleb
When I saw this icon for sale,
by a Mother and Sister of the Convent of St. Elisabeth in Minsk
who were fundraising for their work,
I was drawn to it.
I asked my spiritual father who they were,
as I had not seen their icon before.
He explained that they were Passion Bearers.
I asked what this means,
and he said, ones who bear sorrow in a godly way.
Godly sorrow.
I knew I needed them, to help me when I was sad.
The icon first went to some friends who I felt needed them first.
I have had the icon back, since January of this year.
It did not have a way to be hung,
so I had to go to the hardware store before I could put it up.
On Tuesday I hung this Icon up for the first time.

Rublev's Trinity.
The centre of this part of my Icon Corner.
A few months back, during a sleepless night,
I sat on my floor and just looked at this Icon,
with the lampada lit.
I was consoled, comforted and at last, able to sleep again.
The lampada was a gift from a friend,
a few years ago.
It is one of most beautiful things I have.
Lighting candles for and in prayer
is an abiding sign and experience of hope.

My special small Icon of the Theotokos.
I bought this Icon when I first went to
Holy Dormition Monastery
The first Sunday after my chrismation.
This Icon has been with me for almost 5 years now.
It is the centre of my Icon shelf,
And is the one candle that I light day and night in
my icon corner.

God walks with us

God walks with us...
He scoops us up in
His arms or simply sits
with us in silent
strength until we cannot
avoid the awesome
recognition that yes,
even now, He is here.

When I was 16 (half my lifetime ago; yes I am young; but I am the oldest I've ever been right now, as I am apt to say) I worked at a camp in Ohio for the summer. I washed dishes, set tables, cleaned cabins, helped campers go swimming (the camp was for physically and mentally impaired children and adults, depending on the week). One of my friends, who I have lost touch with, CM, wrote the lines posted above.

I still have the small faded paper that I re-wrote them on, I keep it in my icon corner. I have always liked these words and thought it was time to share them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In 3 hours

I will be writing my midterm; will be in class in 2 hours (lecture first then exam).

I have been reviewing my notes and studying the texts for a few days now. I will be glad when this is over.

Of course the class is not over.

To be honest, I am spiritually weak still and feel really destabilized by not knowing what my future is! But at least I realize how I am feeling. This can lead to prayer, repentance and hope.

All prayers invited for my midterm exam! Works by John Donne, George Herbert, Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, and Ben Jonson are all possible exam questions. There are 3 essay questions and I have to write on two of them.

I have been taking pictures of various icons in my apartment and I hope to post them soon!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cooking Query

In library science information gathering is examined - one of the ways of information gathering is by asking your friends. (The question in library school was how to get people to realize that there is a lot of information that a public (or academic or special) library can offer).

But even librarians love to pick other's brains for information and I am not exception! :)

So here's the question:

I have some canned chick peas. I also have curry paste in a jar. I am thinking of mixing these with some sliced boiled potatoes and yogurt. Any suggestions on how this should be cooked? Should I boil the potatoes almost all the way and then add them to the sauce? Should the sauce, potatoes and chick peas simmer in a skillet?

Yogurt added at the end?

If you have suggestions, please let me know. I think I will make this dish later on in the week.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Beautiful Flowers, Hard Questions and Cleo the Cat

Liliacs - I had a great walk yesterday with a friend and took pictures.

Where I first lived as a child had a liliac bush. My Mother loves them...

My Cutest Cleo Cat.
OK. The hard questions.
1. I don't know what to do yet.
I am only getting
RED lights from the professionals
(the few, okay mainly my professor
who is being honest about the field)
about the field for a PhD in humanities.
That and my own research shows that the job market is bad.
And very competitive and intense.
2. I have been asking questions. The MA I could apply to,
I could possibly still get in for September.
Would do it with two of my friends,
if I got in.
BUT with little or no funding.
This is a real concern.
Like many students I have student loans.
If I got out more,
then all the work I did to re-pay would be gone.
This does not seem to be a good move for me,
esp. given that I do not have anyone else (God of course)
to support me money wise.
(and other than a humanities librarian job in a University,
it would not get me more job prospects).
3. What does it mean to let go of this dream?
We are taught to be such idealists.
That we can do anything we want
unlimited optimism or
at least naivete.
This article talks about the students who
are considering graduate school
this professor is often discouraging them for doing so.
He went to Harvard and has a job
but he sees that many are not getting jobs.
His article is harsh but honest.
It was painful to read.
4. This one is only slightly pre-mature.
I do tend to worry a bit at times.
Still. I am processing the fact that if I do not get a job
(I've looked online, there are not any full time ones)
by the end of the summer or so,
I will most likely have to move.
I hope not out of the city itself;
I cannot afford this apartment when the lease is up,
if I do not have a full time
librarian job.
This makes me feel sad,
as my one bedroom apartment here
is so lovely.
5. The idea of having to leave to find work
and leave my Ottawa home
and my spiritual father
I do not want to contemplate.
This is the hardest of all.
But I know that God is with me.
I know that He can do anything; I know I am seek to not be afraid
and be at peace.
So I will continue trying to do so.
And to learn to love God
through this time.
And so I seek to be thankful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pictures of this week

Wine and Chocolate during the Paschal season.

I made a cake.

The trick with a cake mix is to add each ingredient and gently mix

before adding the next item.

The result is more soft and moist.

The result. A cake that went to church and was loved by many.

Spring is here. These are flowers near where I live.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not Knowing Can Be Hard

God has blessed me so much with family and friends. I do not know how we get on without such support.

Today I went to liturgy for Mid-Pentecost. Beautiful. A Feast Day. I wore paschal white and my deep pink scarf. Dressing up for feasts is, especially when life is challenging, important; putting on one's best is an act of courage. And, in this case, of worship.

I finally called World Vision. I have no income coming in, do not know what I am doing yet and felt that I could not continue paying monthly support to the child. This is in deferment until November, or until I call to say otherwise. This was not an easy decision and not made without tears.

I am learning more on being present to where I am. Cleo is sitting by my feet. The sun is shining. My apartment is in the process of being cleaned, again. I feel a bit overwhelmed, but I am trying to do the best I can with today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Life Direction Is Not Easy

I had my third class yesterday. I enjoy my class.

The hardest thing for me is that we are dealing with a century where most people in Great Britain believed in God. A theologically rich century, as it were. My professor is great, supportive, a wonderful teacher. But I do not believe she is a Christian and her understanding of the Scriptures, the Church and texts are quite post-modern.

It can be hard to live in such a non-Christian world now.

My professor and I have been talking about the fact that the job market in English Lit with a PhD is very competitive and intense. After class I did some research. I had already read an Amanda Cross mystery novel that discusses this problem (A. Cross is now a retired English professor and her sleuth is an English professor) and the huge MLA (Modern Language Association) rat-race to try to get a job.

I found this book:

The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities By Frank Donoghue Published by Fordham Univ Press, 2008

which I read pages from online. The situation is incredibly bleak, with more PhDs with jobs. And I know that the culture of today is not supporting meaningful scholarship like in the past. Universities, I have heard, are getting rid of their classics departments; English departments may be jeopardized. Why? Because of the end result of capitalism and a "for profit" only orientation. Why else? Because our culture has ceased to care about truth, about exploration of what it means to be human. Because of despair and deep apathy to searching for meaning in life. Because many people have ceased to believe in God and are left with only themselves.

And it is not just the humanities either. Canada is destroying true scientific research; I used to work at their science library and the government has drastically (were talking OVER 50%) cut their budget.

Which also means that within a year here in Ottawa, there are going to be a lot of librarians looking for work.

Well. What to do? I am going to keep doing my class. I am still going to see if I can do the MA and if I can get funding for it. But what I will end up deciding and what way I will go - I don't know yet.

This part is hard. Not to mention the fact that I have no rich relatives to provide for me, nor do I own my apartment.

Lord have mercy in the midst of these questions.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mystery Books

I read my first mystery book since Lent - Pick Your Poison by Leann Sweeney. I bought it at Prime Crime Mystery Store in Ottawa. I love the bookstore, but am careful not to go there too often. Especially since I don't have a job at this precise moment.

However it was used and I enjoyed it.

Mystery books today are an interesting part of the publishing industry. This one was published by Penguin in softcover, which is a bit of a coup, if I understand the publishing world. It is possible that it is now inversed, paperback publishing not meaning it went past the hardcover printing; I am not sure.

Anyway. There were a few editorial glitches. Picky - maybe. In the paragraph the line where the character introduces her mother as dying when she and twin were 3 is repeated almost word-for-word. It appears that the author failed to introduce a name of a key character properly and I was left wondering where this name came from. (I looked pages and pages back trying to find it). And there was a typo towards the end of the book, with a word misspelled.

SIGH. Sometimes I wish I was a book editor. Perhaps I missed part of my calling in life. I really love editing and analyzing books.

There were some great parts in the book - really funny cohesively written themes that kept the characterization of Abby Rose, the main character of the book, more dynamic. However, I felt though that it was a bit too full of stock characters. Trying to be a mix of an English mystery novel of a rich woman set in Texas with the hot detective with an Evil-Ex scenario. So Agatha Christie in current times (but not as clever) with a mix of Diane Mott Davidson (but without her strength of outlaying description and characterization). The main character's past in computer science could of been a bit more defined. A strength of DM Davidson books is that Goldie has a career that helps carry her character and Abby Rose, L Sweeney's character did not.

I could see the plot coming by page two, other than a few complications, which is why I say it is not as cleverly written as Agatha Christie's. That said, it had good dialogue, humour; I especially enjoyed her characterization of some side characters who were on the poor side of the money tracks.

I am glad I read it, especially as reading in the 17th Century can be a bit heavy. I would like to see this author deepen, however.

Have you read any good books lately? Would love to hear! :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


The other day I decided, with it being Spring
my Cleo Cat shedding
a lot,
that a serious brushing was needed.
Here is Cleo looking at the result. She looks thinner,
now that all the excess hair is gone.
So funny...

Yes. That is a lot of hair and she is still a huge fluff ball!

Here she is today, relaxing on my old beloved
gold chair.
This chair was my Dad's when I was young.
We played spaceship, sitting backwards,
with the navy blue bottons.

As I live alone,
Cleo is a huge comfort to me.
She makes me laugh
needs my affection and
is a living presence in my small home.

I am grateful to God for her.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Further Thoughts

I talked to a very dear friend recently about my question - what is the difference or how to understand how to depend on God while working out one's salvation.

Particularly, I have been thinking about this:

If someone is calling out your strengths - naming them - telling them to you - it can be incredibly encouraging.

I, in my faulty understanding of the spiritual life, can still get confused by this. How does one reconcile acknowledging, naming and owning one's strengths with the need to depend on God? I struggle with a fear of forgetting God, of stepping out of bounds, trying to live my life on my own strength instead of God's.

My friend reminded me of what humility is - having a true understanding of one's self. This includes knowing one's strengths and weaknesses. It is good to know one's strengths, as long as we remember that God is the source of them.

I am learning more what it means to live in the strengths of myself instead of the weaknesses.

This is part of a larger interior journey I am on, which can be summerized this way:

We have souls, and we must learn to live in them.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Great Lines

The words, taken at their face value, are very startling to a modern audience; but those who cannot face such startling should not read old books.

C.S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost (p. 74-75)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


I am working on my paper, read the poems for class (I love John Donne!), and found out today that I need to put together my research proposal sooner that I expected for my application for my English MA.


I am enjoying this time though.

A holy hieromonk visited us this past weekend at my Church and he spoke of the 40 days of Brightness as a time of renewal for us, body and soul.

I feel a sense of this renewal by working on this class.

Ironically, or what appears ironic at the surface, is that I am writing my paper on despair. Actually I am tracing the movement of the characters in Paradise Lost (other than God the Father and Son) in relation to the despair they are in. Acedia - Kathleen Norris started me on the awareness of this years ago with her writings on acedia. Of course now her latest book focuses on the topic exclusively.

Did you know that the Catholic St. Thomas Aquinas used St. John Cassian's writings to explain sloth? I found it very helpful to read that sloth is considered not only to be a form of hatred towards God (by avoiding / hating spiritual good) but also an opposite to joy.


This made Fr. Roman Braga's emphasis on joy more real and understandable. Of course if we think of St. Seraphim of Sarov, and how he called those he met, 'his joy' and how he lived the reality of Pascha year round, the world suddenly is full of brightness.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Happy Writing and a Question

I am working out the rough draft ideas for my paper. I am so happy to be writing again. I have a lot of work ahead of me, however. Research and critical analysis of the text. I need wisdom to do this well.

I am enjoying what I am writing, but am unsure if what I am doing is what the professor wants from me.

This is tricky.

Question I am pondering today (would love to hear your thoughts, please comment!):

It appears that we need to believe ourselves capable of owning and handling our life. I have heard said that parenting is training you child to be independent from you, as is appropriate for the age level of the child.

My question is, once we are adults, what does it mean to hold in tandem complete dependence on God while being appropriately independent and confident that we can meet life as it comes?

Another way to say this may be this: what does it mean to live out this prayer?

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace.
Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will.
In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all.
In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will, teach me to pray, and You, Yourself, pray in me.

Monday, May 04, 2009

New Beginnings

New Beginnings - must be a phrase used for many things. I think it may even be or close to being a name of a restaurant where my family lives.

I go to my first class tonight! Am listening to Bach. I finished reading Paradise Lost. I have a paper topic and thesis idea.

Steps are being made; it is odd to not know the outcome.

I pray I may make a good beginning.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Picture of Cleo and Ponderings regarding Orthodoxy and Paradise Lost

Here's my Cleo Cat.
She decided that it was okay to sit on top of my black bag and sweater.
She has been a bit traumatized by my change in routine;
job loss means no 9-5 job with lunch at home.
Poor Cute Cat.
Well. This morning was sunny;
I bought some used books.
A Canadian Lit Anthology, fiction, a book on English Literature.
Used part of my meager grocery money;
Chaucer described the scholar in his Canterbury Tales
as one who would rather buy books
than eat.
Don't worry though. I am eating.
I have food in the freezer and money to buy bread, milk and eggs.
I am in book 10 of Paradise Lost now.
This reading has been helpful to me.
This transition time is emotionally draining
and I have some grief issues I am crying out
at times.
I did not learn the healing power of tears until I was nearly thirty.
The Orthodox Church changes many things in a person's life.
For me one of these changes included this particular healing.
Not that I believe myself to be fully healed
in terms of processing grief.
But I believe at least that I am a little more healed.
One of the things in Paradise Lost that strikes me is
how the devil refuses to love.
He is clearly committed to malicious hatred of God
to the point that Milton says often that Satan
has hell in his heart.
I think this particular observation of Milton is worth great thought.
A prayer for Saturday in one of my Orthodox Prayer Books includes
asking God to
"Illumine the dark hell of my heart,
driving off the blackness of my sins,
and raise my mind to heaven so that I may delight in Your face."
Theologically Milton misunderstood many things, however,
he can give much food for thought
and prayer.