Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring equinox in 3 parts

Our morning trip into Erie takes us down a street that has us heading right into the sunrise and this morning the timing was perfect. There it was through the trees. No cloud cover today...warm (50s) and sunny. Happy spring!

Noon time brought a unique look through our stained glass windows. The uniqueness? No reflections on the side ceramic tiles. The angle must have been perfectly straight on--the windows appeared directly onto the floor and anything else in their way. Bright and colorful. Gorgeous.

And evening brought the annual free small cone giveaway at our local Dairy Queen that opened today! "We'll take two chocolate-vanilla twists, please," we said--"and thank you." I asked the fellow we thought might be the owner, as he served us at the drive thru window, how many they expect to give away. "Last year we served 1,300 small cones," he answered. I figure that's about 100 an hour and a whole summer of goodwill for them!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

One week of 50s-60s

One week of temperatures over 50 degrees and the inner courtyard garden jumps at the chance to begin its springtime revelations! Sure the Christmas lights are still on the magnolia tree, but now the buds are also just around the corner.

But the real celebration this weekend was the pronouncement of First Monastic Profession by Kathy McCarthy. The story and Smilebox on our community page tell the story beautifully. We are so blessed!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

My choice

Our simple environment for Lent.

My (sad) attempt at being artsy--all lights off, only candle light and flash of the camera!

I forgot to share the poem I read at the Celebration of Mary Oliver last week. It is from my favorite book of hers, Thirst. My favorite because it is so spiritual. Not spiritual in that organized religion kind of way---or with any religion in particular. Just in that way that acknowledges and treasures all the beautiful (spiritual) things about life: nature, people, events. 

Since I have spent the winter looking out of my window at the five newly planted trees from last summer and wondering and hoping that they are making it through the wilds of winter in the protective tubing we put around them, I chose this one on trees--and, of course as in all Mary Oliver poems--on more than trees.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine."

Sunday, March 10, 2019

First five days

The first five days of Lent have been anything but quiet, secluded or retiring. Well, that's not totally true--our chapel has taken on its annual simple, yet stunning Lenten environment, our daily prayer has changed to include Lenten hymns and responses and the first weekend of the Vigil and Sunday Mass brought back the heard-once-a-year songs and the beautiful deep and mournful sounds of the oboe.

But amidst all of that we also had the seasonal Lenten reflection afternoon for 35 oblates and a very interesting weekend group of leaders of a small, rather new Presbyterian congregation from Pittsburgh, who joined us for every prayer period and Sunday Mass. Our prioress, Sister Anne was part of presentations at an event celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week held at Mercyhurst University. And, over it all, we experienced our first spring-like thaw which brought enough rain to melt all, I say all, of the snow on the grounds. What is that long flat carpet-like green stuff that covers so much of our property? Grass, you say...what's grass? (We've been snow-covered for so long it's no wonder both male and female cardinals are coming closer than usual. Our poor birds are in need of some natural food sources!)

May spring come quickly.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

We must celebrate

In the nearly twelve years of writing this blog I have posted poems by Mary Oliver 100 times. Her death January 17th brought a sadness to me and to many of my friends who are equally admirers of her extraordinary work. Tomorrow night I will be one of many, I'm sure, attendees at "Celebrating Mary Oliver" to be held at the former St. Mary's School building on E. 10th St. (aka: a local artists' colony of sorts, with a writing studio included).

I'm taking my favorite book of hers, Thirst, with two or three choices to share. We'll see which one comes out.

I should probably sponsor a private celebration and just recite all of her works from all of her books I own. My own poetry filibuster!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The annual "March madness" is beginning

We come by the annual "fever" of March Madness legitimately. After all, I live in the home of one of the strongest and longest lasting Erie high school girls rivalries: Villa vs St. Ben's! That's all I heard about growing up (my aunt was the Villa coach for years)--the annual basketball game between the two local girls basketball powerhouses...and these were the years before Title IX and the real development of powerhouse teams!

Then along came Kayla McBride in the early 2000s..first at VMA and then as a star for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish women's team and March Madness returned to my life. Ever since Kayla's stint at ND as an All-American, then onto the WNBA (currently for the Las Vegas Aces), my friends and I have been hooked on college women's basketball--and ND in particular. Last year they won the national championship with last second heroics--such fun (at least for the winners) and this season they are among the top 5-6 teams predicted to make a strong run for The Final Four and this year's championship.

Unless you live in an anti-sports cave, quite understandable truly as it does become rather feverish, this month is a sports followers dream. The regular season ended this weekend, the conference championships are next weekend and the national championships begin the next: 64 teams playing single elimination rounds culminating April 5-8 for both the men's tournament (Minneapolis) and the women's (Tampa) and on every sports channel in sight.

It is a great way to make it through the snowy weeks of winter and much fun reminiscing about our own school, recreation league and college teams of the past. Go Irish!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Are you mechanical?

When I was growing up there was a popular "test" at the time, named The Kudor Preference Test. It might still be around today-not sure. Anyway, it was made up of what seemed like 100s of questions and for each one you had to select from the three options what your favorite was and what your least favorite was. Here's a sample I'll make up!
a) Walk a dog
b) Play with a dog
c) Teach a dog to fetch
So after answering thousands of these you got results that predicted, I think, possible jobs or things you were good at, or I suppose, areas to avoid...something like that. Anyways, in those kind of things I always scored pretty high..not 99%, but high enough, in "mechanical" ability.

Flash forward decades and here I was a newly arrived substitute for our handbell choir whenever a member was absent or sick for the weekly practices. I enjoyed it very much because it greatly improved my reading of music and it was a nice transition back to music after years of being away. A couple years of being a "sub" led to an invitation to be a permanent member when a position opened up.

Flash forward another few years. One day, one of the hard rubber hinges that is in each bell, cracked and I'm not sure of the next step, but "Yes," I said, "if there is an instruction booklet, I'll give a try at replacing it." (Memories of those pins used in the Kudor Preference were flashing through my mind!) Reading the directions carefully and trying not to break anything else on it, I finally managed to take the bell apart, replace the hinge and put the bell back together. The whole process probably took 2-3 hours, over a couple days, if I recall correctly.

So here we are today, dozens of cracked hinges have been replaced and I thought I'd share this adventure with you, as so many of you have probably heard us playing at various Mount liturgies. An aside to others of you who are "a little mechanical": I'm sure you'd guess which part is the hardest--not the taking apart, not the replacing of the hinge--yes, it's the putting it back together! Best to give the most attention, however, to the taking apart....that's what helps put it back again!

Here's the bell in one piece (D4).

Here it is with the handle and the inside taken off. The offending hinge is the black piece on the right,
held by the two small silver screws.

And here it is with every single piece separated. A very scary moment.
BTW, you'll notice that this is done on my bed. Nothing falls on the floor
or rolls off of the bedspread. They just stay quietly where you put them!