Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Forty Maxims

I find that I get a number of hits each week from a link to an old post with a list of maxims for living from Father Thomas Hopko. I just recently ran across a blog dedicated to meditations on a shorter version of Father Thomas' list: Forty Maxims, which appears to be a last years' Lenten project from Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Maryland.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Morning with a little mist

The little round objects on the fenceline are the sons' soccer balls.
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

More on Abba Anthony, Courtesy of Pithless Thoughts

Pithless Thoughts: Curmudgeophan - On Ortho-blogging

ORA ET LABORA: The Thirty-Eight Sayings of St Anthony the Great

ORA ET LABORA: The Thirty-Eight Sayings of St Anthony the Great

Back in June of 2008, following a recommendation from Father Thomas Hopko, I tried to blog about each of the thirty-eight sayings of Abba Anthony. I made it to number four before setting aside the blog for a year. A few people followed the series, short as it was, drawn by the words of the Saint rather than anything I had to say. Over at Ora Et Labora the author responded to to Father Thomas' challenge by taking the wiser course of posting all thirty-eight sayings without comment. Go take a look.

Nation Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Nation Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Comes under the heading "Too true to be really funny."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sheep and doves

While taking younger son to school this morning we heard a story on West Virginia Public Radio about a business that provides doves for release at funerals. I turned to younger son and said' "When I die, please, do not do a dove release." He said, "No way, but I might do a sheep release."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Argentina criminals 'evade capture by dressing up as sheep' - Telegraph

Argentina criminals 'evade capture by dressing up as sheep' - Telegraph

Yet another thing to worry about down on the farm! The money quote from the article: They can't pull the wool over our eyes forever.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Still life: farm and baseball

Susan found the baseball near the barn. I don't know how it got there, maybe dropped by a passing robin as a harbinger of spring.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Many Lives

I had one of the first Google mail (gmail) accounts. When Google bought blogger it offered them to us early adopters when it was still an invitation only beta. For reasons that are now obscure, when I set up the account I used as the address. Now, there are a lot of people on the planet named John Bell and a number of them have signed up for gmail accounts over the years. For reasons best known to Google, they have a unique way of handling e-mail addresses that closely resemble one another. I quote from Google help:

Sometimes you may receive a message sent to an address that looks like yours but has a different number or arrangement of periods. While we know it might be unnerving if you think someone else's mail is being routed to your account, don't worry: both of these addresses are yours.

Gmail doesn't recognize dots as characters within usernames, you can add or remove the dots from a Gmail address without changing the actual destination address; they'll all go to your inbox, and only yours. In short:
o =
o =
o =

All these addresses belong to the same person. You can see this if you try to sign in with your username, but adding or removing a dot from it. You'll still go to your account.

If you get mail that seems to be intended for someone else, it's likely that the sender entered the wrong address, just like if you've ever dialed a wrong phone number for someone. In these cases, we suggest contacting the original sender or website when possible to alert them to the mistake.

One last thing: Google Apps does recognize dots. If you'd like to have a dot in your username, please ask your domain administrator to add your preferred username as a nickname.

The upshot is that I get a whole lot of misdirected mail for other John Bells. It's like I have alternate lives. So far I have had glimpses into the world of the John Bell in the New York/New Jersey area, had package notifications for the California John Bell, been notified about the John Bell in London's indoor golf opportunities, gotten ministry updates for the Mormon John Bell and received e-mail ads from pubs intended for the John Bell in the north of England. I'm not sure if it's he or the London John Bell who vacations in Spain. Whichever one, I'm envious. I'm curious about the African John Bell, who also seems involved in some kind of church ministry. The latest addition is a Canadian John Bell who just got a cell phone. There seem to be a lot of me out there, and I am not even counting the "John Bell" who hacked my account last fall and e-mailed half the people in my sent mail folder with a plea to send money because he was trapped in Madrid and had lost his wallet. I briefly thought it was a legitimate but misdirected cry for help from one of the English John Bells, but it appears to have been just a common crook. My friends were suspicious, broke or both, so no money was forthcoming and eventually I convinced Google that I was indeed me and regained control of my online life.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New lamb

Here is a new lamb, born slightly out of season. Younger son has named her "April."
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Thomas Sunday

Sheep, not being inclined to much reflection, are not great doubters. Here is sun, here is grass, there is water. Enough said.
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

We will be getting ready for our annual shearing marathon in the next few weeks. Here is a picture from last years clip with younger son doing the honors.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

How the Light Gets In

This is one of those mornings where it feels like someone turned up the gravity. Much work, many bodily aches and pains and grief for my friends who are returning from the internment of their child. But still, it is a beautiful morning, and as the apostle says, His strength is made perfect in weakness. Or as a decidedly non-apostolic writer put it:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen - Anthem

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Memory Eternal

A member of the St. George Orthodox Military Association stopped by and left a comment on my post about the funeral service Monday. I thought I would copy his words up here on the front page for those might miss it in the comments.

Thank you for your posting and sharing the information and details of the Orthodox Funeral for PFC. Winston James Miroy. I learned of the untimely passing of PFC. Miroy through an emailed story from the Fredericksburg news paper. The story saddened me greatly. It is always so sad to see someone lose their lives at such a young age.

Your posting touched me as you related the information about the funeral and how Orthodox funerals differ during bright week. There's an old Carpatho-Rusyn folklore that it is a blessing to die or be buried during Bright Week…that the soul of the departed enters heaven directly through the opened royal doors, which are kept open during this most joyful time in the Orthodox Church.

The passing of a loved one is always traumatic and causes so much grief to the surviving family and friends. However, being able to sing the Paschal troparion of "Christ is Risen..." really brings home the fact that we live in Christ, we die in Christ, and we are resurrected for eternal life through the Risen Christ.

Please pass along my condolences to PFC Miroy's family. He is in my personal prayers and the Saint George Orthodox Military Association will keep him in their prayers and will offer a Panikhida for his immortal soul on the 40th day. Memory Eternal, Memory Eternal, Pascha Eternal!

Lambs in the Snow

With temperatures near 80 it is hard to imagine that just a month ago we were all but snowed in. The lambs are bigger now and enjoying the green pastures.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Light and Sorrow

Last night I attended the funeral of Winston James Miroy, age twenty, the oldest son of good friends of mine. The service was held at my former parish in Northern Virginia. It was a bit different from the normal Orthodox funeral because it was held on the Monday after Pascha, (Easter Sunday for you in the West). In the week after Pascha all services are changed to celebrate the joy and hope of the resurrection. The usual service is beautiful in its own right, solemn, penitent and reflective. The service during this week has all of that, but also adds some of that hope, joy and fervor of the Paschal celebration. We wept together with his parents, friends and family, but also joined in the great shout of "Christ is Risen" and sang that He "is trampling down death by death and on those in the tomb bestowing life." The words did not deny our grief or diminish the feelings of loss for the absence of this good young man. They were not a denial of pain and loss, but a statement that the deepest truth is not exhausted by loss and grief, that, even in the midst of great sorrow there is still the possibility of hope and, someday, of joy.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

There and Back Again

I started this blog on an Easter Sunday in March of 2002. After a few years of faithful posting I am afraid that updates have become sporadic at best. The last spasm of regular writing was back in October. I had actually been doing pretty well until I finally got around to getting some much delayed blood work and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The last five months have been spent making some major changes in the way I live, some of which are documented at where I have been writing a weekly column since January. For a while I thought about restarting this blog as "The Blood Sugar Diaries" but now that my health is starting to turn around I find that the things that interested me enough to blog about them here are interesting me again. If you read this blog in days past you might notice a template change. I'm afraid it is not as nice as the one I was using before. That one, despite looking better, had the major drawback of cutting off chunks of photographs I posted years ago using yet another template. I had been meaning to fix that for a while now. So, if anyone out there is still checking in, I'm back, so stay tuned for farm pictures, poetry snippets, bits of Orthodox prayers and liturgy plus the usual random thought about life, the universe and everything.

Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen!

The day of Resurrection; let us be radiant for the festival, and let us embrace one another. Let us say, brethren, even to those that hate us, ‘Let us forgive all things on the Resurrection’, and so let us cry, ‘Christ has risen from the dead: by death he has trampled on death, and to those in the graves given life’.

From Vespers for the Sunday of Pascha