Monday, July 29, 2013

The East Coast

We've seen a lot of Gov. Chris Christie in the past year--both as a "contender" in the Republican party and on the news when the hurricanes came up the New Jersey coast. Well, life goes on at the NJ coast, no signs of the hurricanes in these parts, but lots of talk of the economy and its effects on tourism during the summer months. We've seen huge crowds on the beaches and boardwalks, but the talk is primarily about day trippers versus families that can afford week-long rentals. More of the former is where the general opinion leans.

The New Jersey twin to our Country Fairs is their Wawa stores. The line of people buying coffee and a breakfast food item is long every day I've stopped for a morning paper.

The piers and shoots of land jutting out into the bays are lined with beautiful homes and condos.

These osprey nests are everywhere and each one seems to have a couple "babies."

As I said above, the beaches are packed--umbrella next to umbrella, next to the next umbrella. They make our Presque Isle beaches seem downright solitary!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Off to the Shore

A week's vacation begins today, "down the shore," as the Philly/New Jersey folks say. So, I'll be posting about shore life for a couple days. We came here via a stop in Greensburg, PA for a pre-assembly regional gathering of about 25 LCWR members from western Pennsylvania. It was a good meeting, just getting thoughts and ideas ready for the national LCWR assembly in mid-August.

Regarding LCWR (The Leadership Conference of Women Religious): for their summer shows 60 Minutes reruns favorite programs from the past year and this Sunday, July 28 their coverage of the LCWR's doctrinal assessment from the office of the Vatican, will be on again. You might want to catch it if you want to see their take on it. The full coverage, and probably a little more accurate, can be found on the National Catholic Reporter's site with articles dating back over a year.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The girls in our garden

Quite a weekend as a film crew from Paris arrived to tape our Morning Praise, opening of Sunday liturgy and conduct many interviews. Sister Joan Chittister was the primary feature, but many of our sisters ended up on camera. They came as part of a 90-minute documentary their company, Point du Jour, is making on religious life for women around the world. They were in the Congo last month, plan to go to a community in both South America and Asia and we were the U.S. representative.

Great fun, but also quite exhausting. Anyone that thinks filming is easy has never been a part of the set up, lighting and audio concerns and the time table, which at most, is only a suggestion!

We are grateful for the opportunity to represent women religious in this country and I hope to be able to announce a link to the finished project when it is ready. Meanwhile brush up on your high school French or find a friend who can translate for I'm sure that will be the language of the final version.

Our Lady of the Streets amidst summer daisies.

Abbess Scholastica in her rose garden.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

After the rains

After enduring my goings on throughout June about our endlessly wet weather that month, today you get the Erie Weather Report for mid-July and if you're a weather geek, as I admit I am, you've seen the weather channel's announcement of a heat wave in the northeast.

Yes, they are correct. There is such and we have a piece of it. The average high for this week in Erie is 80--all week. And what have we had this week? Sunday 86; Monday 85; Tuesday 87; Wednesday 89.....and what is predicted? Thursday 86, Friday 86, Saturday 83.

And the folks out in the sun are baking: the parents of our East Coast migrant children in the fields, the workmen/women on the highways and in the gardens and on the houses because the outdoor work that would have been done in June has all been pushed into July. One landscaping business owner told us that they are 3-4 weeks behind their schedule and working 7 days a week to try and get all their customers' work in. WOW--it is hot and humid!


Switching gears now: there are a lot of lovely meditations and reflections on the beauty of the everyday. I read one recently about looking, really looking anew at your daily commute, be it short or long. Try to see things that you just pass by without really taking note, the author challenged. There is a lot of everyday beauty and wonder that we overlook be it in haste or lack of attention, whatever. So I'm trying it and look at what I found this past week.

Around our neighborhood there are still a number of open drainage ditches that have not been piped in yet. They are along the roads and in front of houses. Right down East Lake Road this is what has developed in one long ditch: wildflowers--and they are all out right now and are a ditch, alongside busy Rte 5. So I pulled over one day, grabbed my camera and tried to capture the wonder. It's not quite the same as the view from the car, but it's close.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monastic Haunt #5

A year ago I started what I thought might be a little fun "series": Monastic Haunts, places you've got a good chance of running into an Erie Benedictine. For some reason it only presented four items: April 16, May 14, June 11 and September 6, 2012.

I'd like to revive it for awhile and see, especially for those of you who don't get to Erie too often, if you'd enjoy seeing some to the everyday places around us that we like.

In this Sunday's newspaper they ran a great feature on driving east on Rte 5, our East Lake Rd. One of the featured stops was the Freeport Inn and Beach, photos here. "We're going to Freeport" is a popular phrase on a weekend night or when there's a visitor to take about. The Freeport Inn is located about 8 miles east of us on Rte. 5 and is probably one of the most popular restaurants hereabouts. Their pies alone make the trip worthwhile. The inn is also at the turn to the best beach on Lake Erie in this area and that's why it was highlighted in the Sunday feature.

Another great place is the Crazy Parrot--open only in the summer. It is sure to make the monastic haunt list soon!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

PBS comes calling

The last two days were quite different as we welcomed a PBS journalist, Judith Valente, and her crew who came to Erie to interview our Joan Chittister, visit some of our ministries, attend our prayer and video all of the above. We go through this two or three times a year and this group was one of the best--very professional, yet very personable. It'll be fun to see if and when and where it turns up in the future.

July 11--summer feast of Benedict. Happy Feast Day!

A new replica of St. Benedict by the Benedictine sculpture David Paul Lange, OSB, of St. John's Abbey.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Weekend variety

A four-day weekend of sorts brought a great variety of events and visitors to the Mount. Primary among them was the cello-piano husband and wife "Duo Polaris" from Calgary, Canada. Wonderful concert in the Mount chapel.

Other more "annual events" included the opening of the orange tiger lilies that are featured everywhere this week. A 10-mile drive east along Rte 5 brings a different setting of them in every yard and field it seems. One is more beautiful than the other.

I spent an afternoon at the Barcelona, NY lighthouse/marina and caught these four little girls and their father walking about the grounds, too. Maybe Mennonite, I'm not sure, but these girls were so cute in their long gingham dresses.

And finally: my camera has a fireworks setting so I thought I'd try it for our North East Mercyhurst campus fireworks last Thursday. Obviously it takes lots of practice but in the meantime, what a variety of images captured. Here are just three.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Week of the Fourth

Tuesday we attended the first Take Back the Site prayer vigil for 2013. It took place outside of a tavern where a young (24) man was killed in the early hours of the morning a couple weeks ago--following an argument. Ironically, it was a beautiful summer afternoon with about 125 people squeezed into this little park-like area next door to the bar. Very sad, as they all have been.

The "beautiful summer afternoon" experience isn't lasting long around these parts. Just when we ventured out to our first Wednesday night concert at Beach One at Presque Isle State Park, the rain-bearing clouds passed over about an hour into the event and scattered most of the crowd. We stuck it out for about 1/2 hour after they passed, but then packed it in when the second wave of rain hit. We had a good time though. Being caught in a warm summer rain can be fun! Our weather forecasts are filled with the words "scattered," "isolated," and "intermittent" these days. All references are to precipitation.

We've been without fireworks in our area for a couple years, but this July 4th, as part of our yearlong Perry 200 celebration, there will be fireworks all around the city. Let's hope that night is a little less "scattered" than Wednesday night was!

Our first round of roses is nearly gone. We'll see them again in August, I believe. Very full and pretty this year. Which is a statement true of all our foliage and flowers. Green and lush and full!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Too much water

Erie has had a very wet June--at least twice the amount of rain than the average. A couple weeks ago we experienced its effects, as our library courtyard (the area between the residence wings) flooded again, but this time water backed up and came right through the foundation into our Garden Room and adjacent offices. We have known there was a drainage problem for quite awhile, but this brought it to center stage, so to speak. Adaptations took place inside right away and outside some preliminary digging disclosed broken pipes, pipes filled with 40 years of debris and silt and a drainage system that just wasn't taking away the water from the courtyard, including what was coming down the pipes and gutters from the roofs.

Here is a photo journal of what's going in now that will remedy the situation, we hope forever: a new drainage system with pipes and pumps and drains that will send the water out to the east, well away from the building's foundation.

Click on photo to enlarge.

New pipes are being set in.

Two pumps are temporary help.

The company is doing a great job carefully removing bushes and plants that will be replanted after the work is done.

Part of the trench that is being dug on the south side of the yard.

Our beautiful gardens are temporarily a "work zone."

The view from St. Scholastica's statue last Wednesday.

The same view after some large trees were removed because their roots were destroying the system.