Thursday, June 4, 2015


Saturday, 30 May, 2015

Supper was all on the stove, in a skillet and two saucepans, when I noticed the burners weren't getting hot.  There were no red lights indicating burners were on.  I tested the stove and it didn't work, either.  

So we ate a cold supper and this afternoon, I called up Shirley Anne, the electrician who had looked over our water heater last year.  She came into the kitchen and scowled.  "You told me there was no electric switch near the stove, and what do I see but an electric switch?"

"It's red," I said, "to indicate it's an emergency switch.  If we were subscribed to the home security service, you'd flip it and the police would come."

She flipped it and the burners came on.

But, but - there's one just like it in the bedroom, and THAT one is for security, definitely, so...?

She laughed and laughed.

"I want to pay you for coming out, anyway," I said apologetically.  She had come all the way from Birkdale.

"Just a cup of coffee, then," she said.

So I gave her some and we sat down to chat and I had a chance to get to know my favorite transgendered electrician.  (She doesn't know I know this.)  We traded some funny stories.  She seems to have more ignorant customers than just me, which is comforting.

Sunday, 31 May, 2015

Church in Leyland today.  (If you are an automobile fan, yes, Leyland is where the car by the same name used to be made.)  Met some several  people I'm very glad to know.

JONATHAN, age 3, was probably born here but his family is from India.  He's quite dark-skinned but with straight hair - and the brightest, sparkliest eyes you ever saw.  He crept up to me during the Kneeling Prayers for Pentecost and touched my hand.  I looked up and smiled back at him and now we are fast friends.  

SAMIR is a middle-aged man who just arrived here a few months ago, having fled his home in Syria.  "Well, thank God you're here now," I said, "and safe."

"But my brother is still there," he said.  

He loloks almost stereotypically Arab, but his eyes are green, and there was a great deal of pain in them as he told of the hardships involved in fleeing Syria, and even more so as he wondered aloud why Western Christians have not come to the aid of their brethren in the  Middle East.  "King Richard, of the Lion heart, came to rescue us," he said, "But where is any help today?  Why is there no help now?"  Well, there's a different slant on the Crusades, huh?

"Not going to happen," I said, "The powers that be in the West are not your brothers."

"Not even Christians!"  he replied.  "I discovered this when I came here to England."

I need to get to know Samir better.

FREGGI is maybe as old as 40 and has recently fled Eritrea.  He's a black African and I didn't get a chance to talk with him very much.  Must make up for that next Sunday.

KENNETH, 70, is Cornish and was just chrismated this past December.  We traded stories of our journeys.  "Kenneth," he told me, is the name of a Cornish saint.  An Orthodox saint, predating the time when Catholicism asserted authority over Cornwall.

In the evening we had a pub supper at the Hayfield Inn with John and Ella Coventry.  So good to be with with these lovely souls.  We seldom spend time with them without one or more of us becoming teary-eyed from speaking from our hearts.m

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Back in England (After too Long)

26-27 May, 2015

England, at last!  It's hard for us to believe, somehow, this time, perhaps because there was no time for anticipation.

It was a trying trip.  We flew Iceland Air, which is a wonderful airline (other than selling you food instead of just handing it out, but that's normal, now, for most airlines).  The flight attendants wear smart uniforms with caps and high heels; and they're all youngish and pretty, not like the slobs elsewhere.Their make-up is good and they wear their hair in fat buns at the nape of the neck.  

No, Iceland Air was not the problem.  The problem was that to get cheap tickets, you sometimes have to settle for a crummy schedule.  No problem, we thought.  We shall ENJOY a night in Reykjavik; it'll give us a chance to see a bit of Iceland, however briefly.  The hotel was only a few minutes from the airport, pricey, but I had bought it as a present to Demetrios, so he didn't mind.  Plus, it's a tiny airport, just two gates as we remembered, very easy to get in and out of.

We landed at Keflavik.  That's the name of the Reykjavik airport, right?  Like Charles de Gaulle is the name of the airport in Paris, or Heathrow, in London; or Dulles, in Washington?  No problem, we thought.   

The good thing, we thought, was that either our memory was bad or the airport had expanded amazingly in one year, because there were many gates and we even found eateries still open at midnight.  Grabbed a bit of airport food as we were hungry and didn't know if anything else would still be open, then easily found a waiting cab.  

Very nice cabbie.  We'd driven about 10 miles when Demetrios asked, "How far away is the hotel?"  Forty-five minutes.  

Forty-five minutes?  Yes, said the cabbie, and added, "That's Reykjavik, across the bay."  Across a BIG bay.  Keflavick turns out to be a whole separate town with a different airport, which is why it wasn't anything like the one we remembered in Reykjavik.

Longish silence.  Then Demetrios, in a rather intimidated sounding voice, asked, "About how much does it cost to drive there?"

Several thousands of Icelandic kronurs.  

"And how much is that in dollars?"  The cabbie didn't know the exact exchange rate today, but around $180.

"And another $180 to come back again?"  


It took us only a couple of moments, I hesitating longer than he, to decide we had to turn right around and spend the night at the airport.

We found a couple of metal chairs and settled in, but they were near an entrance, which now and again was opened and let in 40-degree air, and near huge windows, which also leaked in the cold.  We had no jackets or sweaters in our hand luggage, and after an hour or so, were both shivering.  I was quite sure we literally couldn't survive that way.  So off we went, with heavy luggage, in search of another spot to spend the night.

We were shut into a small part of the airport by then, and all the chairs we could find were already taken.  However, we found half a dozen wheelchairs, which were more comfortable anyway, and nowhere near a window or door.    So we grabbed one each and dozed in them until the airport re-opened and passengers arrived to check in.  

"I think we'd better go now," said Demetrios at last.  "It's odd nobody has asked us to, yet."

"We're old,"  I replied.  "Who's going to try to chase an elderly person out of his wheelchair?" 

So, off to find some more "food".  

We met a good-looking, fortyish man in the food court who turned out to be a German who had emigrated to Iceland ten years ago.  He said he was very happy here, and was planning never to leave.  He had found here his dream.  When asked what he loved best about Iceland, he said it was the warm-hearted people, unlike any he had ever found in Germany.  He showed us pictures on his phone of his little village in the eastern part of the island, with 700 inhabitants, all like one big family.  

"You have to be very open," he said, "because everybody is going to know all about you anyway.  And you have to be willing to say,'I'm sorry' a lot, too."   He's a single dad, and he described how everybody helps raise each other's children.  When he goes to work each morning, the villagers automatically take care of his children, along with the other children whose parents work outside the home.    "Sometimes, when I come home, I don't even know who has them" he said, "and I have to call around to find out where they are."  

Our hearts were very much warmed by listening to this former sea-captain turned civil engineer, and we rejoice he has found his paradise.  All he best3ede to you, Hans-Fritz!

It makes us all the more determined to spend a few days here sometime soon.

Eight o'clock finally dragged itself around, and we took off for England.  It's only a two-hour flight from Iceland, and we spend it trying to sleep.

David and Julia had sent their favorite cabbie to meet us, and sure enough, he was waiting, with a placard that said, "THEO, ORMSKIRK".   He showed us the ATM, where we provided ourselves with some pounds sterling, and it was a pleasant  ride home, memories flashing past us.  The houses didn't look the way they do in Virginia.  Oh, yes, and here are the fields with drainage ditches dug all the way around them, because the land is otherwise too boggy to cultivate.  And here is an actual, real, roundabout.  And there is the university, and here, the church, the yarn shop, etc., etc.  Things I hadn't even had time to think of lately.  

I did some unpacking while Demetrios re-connected the battery of our car, which started right up, no problem.  He managed to renew its registration by telephone; yes, the phone worked this time.  Then he drove to the supermarket to supplement the things David and Julia had so kindly left in our fridge for us.  We found fresh flowers in the kitchen, too!

Eight o'clock again dragged itself around, and we went to bed.  Demetrios is still asleep.  Today we'll unpack and see what's with the TV and the TV license, and generally settle in.  Then tonight, we'll meet David and Julia and James and Kim and little Charlotte for dinner nearby.  Can't wait!