Monday, September 30, 2013

Nooks and Crannies #1

I've been wanting to start a new little series but just couldn't find the right subject, but now I think I have. So whether it lasts weeks or just a few days, here's #1 of my new series (monastic) nooks and crannies.

According to a consulted dictionary, a nook is a corner and a cranny is a crack. Eric Partridge's "Origins" (4th ed) suggests the origin of nook is Middle English nok which is also akin to the semantic group that gives us neck.

The same source suggests cranny is the diminutive of the Old French cran, meaning notch. All this suggests a cranny is more of a small notch than a crack.

If you've visited our place you may have seen this first nook and cranny or, as I would bank more on, you've walked right by it but haven't really seen it. It's tucked away in the corner of a stairway landing, next to a door leading out to our memory garden area. It has good enough light and a steady temperature in both summer and winter to make it an ideal place for keeping many plants healthy and ready for use, especially for the environment in chapel. It is a unique corner, almost a crack in the stairwell.

Our jubilee weekend was wonderful--guests and families all over the place but everyone seemed to be happy and to enjoy themselves tremendously. The weather cooperated miraculously, too. Here's a "cute" look at our six 2013 Jubilarians.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jubilee Fever

Jubilee fever is in full bloom this week as we await the Saturday celebration of our six jubilarians (on pages 16-19 here) and their 500 guests. Yes, that's what I've heard--500. I know the chapel can hold about 300 when all the additional chairs are put around and another 100 or so are going to view the chapel rituals via large screen TVs in the front parlor or Garden Room. Following the ceremony it becomes a glorious celebratory free-for-all reception, everyone talking and laughing and meeting people they haven't seen in...well, sometimes 25 or 50 years!

Meanwhile while all this is going on indoors, outdoors autumn is making her first appearances with cool mornings and sunny, warm afternoons. Oh that that clearness in the skies could continue for the next 6 months instead of descending into that grey dome that seems to settle over the Great Lakes regions during the deep winter months. Here's one of those clean, clear skies right after sunset.

And Mary Oliver's take on autumn:

"Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness"

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don't say
it's easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun by swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What to do on the first day of fall

What did you do on the first "official" day of fall? I did a very appropriate thing: took a Sunday drive east into New York State for about an hour, then turned around and took a different route home. Autumn scenes everywhere--between fields of ripe grapes and pumpkins and roadside stand after roadside stand selling apples and gourds and mums and everything that's already been harvested. It really was a Norman Rockwell-ish experience.

Here are some of the shots I caught:

Country display of pumpkins.

Gourds for sale.

The Dunkirk, NY lighthouse--with a very large attached house.

Small town America is alive and well--a parking meter in our neighboring town.

On a more spiritual note, we had a marvelous homily Sunday on that perplexing parable about the shifty steward. The bottom line? The shifty master commended his steward for acting as he will our God commend us for following God's ways of compassion, forgiveness, mercy and love.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cozy Mysteries

Here is the newest display in our library, put out by our wonderful librarians to entice us into checking out their latest find. These are part of the Grace Chapel Inn Series, a group of Christian-based stories by different authors all centering around three sisters in Pennsylvania who run a B&B and the stories that unfold therein.

Seeing this display reminded me of the "cozy mysteries" that my mother read over the last 15 years of her life. Cozy mysteries, a term I didn't know until I tried to describe her favorites to a librarian to whom I was asking advice, "Oh, you want cozy mysteries," he exclaimed....and into a new mystery genre I fell.

Cozy mysteries don't usually involve a lot of gory details or explicit sex. They are often set in a little village or town with characters that could be your neighbors. All in all, the story appears to be like everyday life, except, of course, there is a murder involved soon enough.

So, what did I find lately? a cozy mystery website that is amazing! First of all it's huge....lists and lists of authors and series and books. From there it adds TV shows, movies, all the major annual mystery award nominees and winners and more. So if you're into mysteries, cozy or not, you'll love browsing here.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Two surprises this weekend to note:

The first is this--a surprise sunset at our lake. We often go for early evening walks, but seldom precede them with, "Let's go see the sunset." We're going to be outside after a day wrestling with office work. But this night we got one--made sweeter perhaps because it was unexpected but not unappreciated.

The second one, again, unexpected. We went to the first anniversary of the Poetry Park on E. 22nd Street to be supportive, to be outside on a cool but clear Sunday afternoon, to mingle with the crowd and just to be out and about. What we didn't expect was to meet Sara. Sara Ries--a talented and delightful young (late 20s?) poet from Buffalo, asked to be one of the two invited guests at the poetry reading part of the celebration. She read from her book Come In, We're Open, reflections on her life as the daughter of owners of a small diner outside of Buffalo. What a treat! Here's an excerpt from one, "Diner Love":

First customers. A young couple
pushes the glass of the door.
I agree with them: it is no time for handles.
My father would disagree. I leave their handprints.
Soon they will be layered with others.
Last call was less than an hour ago and they smell like bar.
They laugh their way to the same side of a booth.
He pulls a twig from her hair; she kisses his hand.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sports fever

We're suffering from a little fever these days--sports fever that is.

Our Erie Seawolves (AA Farm team of the Detroit Tigers) had a great season. They were in the league's semi-finals for the championship, lost to the eventual winners, but had their best season in ages.

Our local high school and college teams have started up and there are always sisters who have great-nieces and nephews who are playing football, volleyball, golf or running cross country at this time of year. We follow the local teams enthusiastically.

And then there are "the big boys" the MLB and NFL and NCAA. One of our sisters was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana so is an honest-to-goodness hometown Notre Dame football fan. But, a number of sisters got their own advanced degrees there or have relatives who are alum (my uncles for instance). And there are other NCAA school alum and connections, so there are plenty of fans gathered around college games. Penn State is a big favorite here, too.

Here is a photo of three great fans. Sister Marlene (left) was born on the other side of the Ohio River from Cincinnati and has never given up on the Cincinnati Reds, even during their lean years! She is next to transplanted-Erieite Brady Louis, also a native of Cincy. Together they keep the Reds spirit alive in town! This year their team is having a good year and may just make the playoffs in late September.

Our prioress, Anne, is one of our Philadelphia girls and that means Eagle and Phillies territory. WOW--are those people wild for their teams! If you caught the first Eagles game Monday night you saw why: new coach, new offense, new excitement and...a WIN!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Onto the next century

The end of the Perry 200 celebration concluded Sunday night with a rousing send off as the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra put on an all-American concert in Liberty Park, located right on the shores of Presque Isle Bay. Across the bay on the Peninsula the Jr. Phil. played at the Perry Monument. Both places had large crowds of residents and out-of-town guests on a beautiful late summer evening to witness the return of a light at the top of the monument, view the Niagara in full sail on the bay and witness canon fire during the "1812 Overture" and a finale fireworks display at the end. Thousands packed Liberty Park and we were among them--such fun.

Here are some views I caught while the sun was still with us. See the Erie Times News for their story of the event.

On the ride home we passed the Brig Niagara, sails down, quietly berthed in its home behind our library/Maritime Museum. Tomorrow it heads out for the trip west to Put-in-Bay, Ohio for their own final Perry 200 event: the reenactment of the Battle of Lake Erie on the actual day September 10.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Tall Ships Are Here

The Appledore

The Hindu

The Lynx

Our own: The Niagara

The Peacemaker

The Sorlandet

The Pride of Baltimore II

The Unicorn

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Perry 200 and Tall Ships

This weekend Thursday-Sunday is the culmination of our Perry 200 yearlong celebration of Oliver Hazard Perry's victories in the War of 1812 and Erie's part in it.

The major naval battle of the War of 1812, the Battle of Lake Erie, took place at Put-in-Bay, Ohio located 160 miles from us at the far west end of Lake Erie. It took place on September 10, 1813 and was a major defeat for the British Navy. In the winter of 1813-14, Perry's fleet stayed here in Erie and suffered greatly through a terrible winter in a place in Presque Isle Bay named Misery Bay because of that experience. Because of the cramped and unsanitary conditions of living on board, many men died of smallpox and other diseases. Most were buried in what is called Graveyard Pond.

This week we took a trip out to Presque Isle, all the way to the Perry Monument, Misery Bay and Graveyard Pond. Today 200 years later and in the waning days of summer, the area is beautiful with no sign, except historical markers and monuments, of the carnage of other times.

The view of Erie from Presque Isle near Misery Bay. The 10 Tall Ships that will be here this weekend will dock along the areas seen here.

This may be a young heron perched on some wood near the entrance to Misery Bay.

These two shots were actually taken at Graveyard Pond. The sunbathing turtles in the lower photo are a famous part of the pontoon boat tours available free throughout the summer.

Monday, September 2, 2013


I come from a family of golfers. My Dad's younger sister was a fine golfer before she entered the convent and Dad himself could get around a course as a social event, admittedly having more fun trying tricky shots from the trouble he got himself into rather than going for a low score. The real golfers were on my Mom's side. She learned to play as a 7 or 8 year old when her Dad took her along as he was teaching her two older brothers. Even when she played her last 9 holes at age 80, she could hit a golf ball as straight as an arrow and often would be heard muttering (with a twinkle in her eye) when anyone's shot went off line, "I just don't see why people can't hit it straight--you just take the club back and bring it through the ball!" Many of the grown children of her oldest brother and now their children are avid golfers---to the tune of family golf outings as part of any get-together they have: picnics, reunions, weddings, whatever.

My sister was the best golfer of all, playing on what was then called the Mini Tour for the LPGA tour. She often said that she never had a professional give her any better advice than what she learned from Mom during her years in Erie.

I didn't take up the game till I was 30, but I have enjoyed it ever since. These days I get out about once every 2 weeks, which explains why my game never gets better: no practice, no improvement! Near us there are two old fashioned family-owned courses that we like to support and I took my camera along this week just to share with you the beauty of a "country course." This one is literally in the midst of acres of grape fields that fill the countryside along the lake shore here (The huge Welsh's plant is 1/2 hour from us and the grape farmers grow for both it and many local wineries).

Enjoy the scenes of Lakeview Golf Course, right on the PA/NY state line on Rte. 5.