Monday, March 30, 2015

Seldom Seen #2

Because Sr. Placida is our most senior sister (97+) and because she is a loyal LTSGW follower I acquiesced to her "nagging" to use this as Seldom Seen #2. Every Saturday she comes through the dining room and chants "Ora and labora" to me as I am giving our ferns their weekly watering. This week she brought her Kindle (yes, a Kindle user at 97+...amazing!) and took a dozen shots of the "seldom seen" process that involves pulling them down via pulleys, watering them in the dishwasher room and sending them up to ceiling level again.

So, albeit reluctantly, I present this weekly job as the second in the new series and I also suggest a change in the Benedictine motto. It should be: "Ora et labora et ama."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Take a deep breath

I'll be taking deep breaths for the next couple of days--trying to get myself "ready" for the biggest liturgical week of the year which begins Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday a week later. This year our presider for the priest parts of the services is Jim Piszker from Mercyhurst University. He is a marvelous homilist and an all-around great guy. We're thrilled to have him with us.

Meanwhile, in contrast to our indoors celebrations, the outdoors is kicking and screaming into spring, as March seems to do most years. One day it's 30 and the next 50; one morning the sunrise is so strong we don't need headlights going into work, the next morning we're scraping frost off the windshield. Springtime schizophrenia!

The first flowers, migrating birds, etc. don't seem as fazed by this off and on of spring--they just go about their spring rituals. Here are our first appearances of daffodils and irises--right on time, in their usual places. I haven't seen any signs of forsythia yet, but they should be along soon, too. If we could just have 3-4 consecutive days of 50+, all spring would break out.

Don't miss our community's website for a delightful Smilebox of last week's Canisius College visit and other recent happenings at the Mount and around the community.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Seldom Seen #1

Over the last week or so two or three readers of Light Through Stained Glass Windows have mentioned to me how much they liked the series Nooks and Crannies. I haven't "been inspired" to start a new series, as much as I like doing them (the mailboxes were fun, too). But I got an idea today and I hope you like it.

Seldom Seen will feature things around our place that aren't really hidden or even special, except for the fact that they just aren't out in the open or are only used occasionally, so they are "seldom seen."

Here's #1. For the Feast of Benedict last Saturday, the prayer leader placed an icon of Benedict on a small table at the front of chapel. On each side of the table were these very tall vases with two white roses in each. Beautiful. We don't see them often as they, obviously, don't fit on a regular table and are used only in creative and special environments.

After the feast they were moved into the little chapel beside the tabernacle. That's what you see here.

Really, really lovely.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nine days of ingenuity

From March 9th to 17th we had nine days that we will remember for quite some time. In a nutshell what happened was that the gas line into the house leaked and was in essence "broken." In a lot more than a nutshell we had, thanks to a temporary albeit smaller line from our gas company, over a week of just barely hot water for 4 hours in the morning and 4 right before bedtime and 16 hours of low heat (it got pretty cold inside by the ninth day---maybe low 60s). All in all the gas company was great, as they had to:

1st) fashion a temporary line into the house, above ground;
2nd) dig a long deep trench from the connection to the house by the west side door, all the way out, across the parking lot and into the meters (which are hidden by a grove of arborvitae trees on the west lawn) to take out the old line;
3) put in the new line, following regs that had changed a bit over the 45 years since the original one was installed.

Our kitchen staff was creative and innovative in preparing meals without ovens; the sisters learned to watch and regulate the 2 small boilers that were able to be used--1/2 the day for water and 1/2 for heat; and we all were given an up-close-and-personal look at what it's like to not have the hot water and the heat that we are used to at our fingertips 24-7.

Here's a look at the work the gas company did to give us a new line. A big thanks to all of them and to our own maintenance staff who went above and beyond, as they do on all our projects.

The new gas line.

The connection to the house.

Crossing the parking lot.

Some of the guys and their equipment.

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Doe" a Deer

Yes, it's that time again: the annual re-appearance of our long lost deer. They started to appear last Wednesday or so as the snow depth was shrinking and shrinking and the bushes and foliage (what's left of it) appeared again.

I saw them out on the east lawn along the tree line eating grass and bushes. Two sisters saw them at 5:30 a.m. right outside their bedroom windows in the front of the house, nibbling on rhododendron leaves and, the best, two of our kitchen staff members saw five of them during their break Friday afternoon in the courtyard area between the two wings of the building. Here is Kari's picture to prove it.

Welcome back!

For those of you who know our place, you can tell this is the sidewalk under the walkway that connects our north and south wings. This gal and her "friends" were walking into the library courtyard to munch on the newly uncovered greenery--or at least what's left of it after the winter.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Dying and Rising

Now that the temperatures start with the number 3 and 4 and maybe soon even a 5, and the snow piles are shrinking lower and lower everyday, the outside world is coming into focus after weeks and weeks of being hidden under blankets of snow.

When I was parking a car yesterday I walked right past this old, dying birch tree. Look how it's come through the winter--pretty beat up, I'd say. But doesn't it have "character" and even beauty in its dying. A Lenten meditation just waiting to be found.

Monday, March 9, 2015

This is what it's like

Last week our local PBS station was holding one of its quarterly pledge drives usually built around some special TV concert that they've engaged. I just happened upon it and was transported to the 80s and 90s with the unique sound of folk/country singer John Denver. I found myself amazed at the smooth and effortless singing voice he had, along with the memorable lyrics that came streaming back as I listened and hummed along.

A day later, on Friday night at supper, we sang Happy Birthday to our Sister Irene who turned 91 that day. She doesn't celebrate too much, but seemed to enjoy the sentiments nonetheless.

Saturday morning these two events came together for me, though without any conscious intention on my part. I found myself walking through the house humming one of John Denver's sad, sweet ballads whose first line begins with: "This is what it's like..." I was carrying my camera because the sun was shining and I thought I might get some indoor or outdoor shots that I could use.....and I came upon this, which I title: "This is what it's like being 91..."

Saturday morning in our small chapel.

If you, too, remember those wonderful John Denver songs you might enjoy taking a few minutes to listen to this one, his famous Calypso.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Francis and Brother Leo

I'd like to introduce you to a cartoon that appears in the National Catholic Reporter as well as in its online edition: "Francis." It is written by NCR writer Pat Marrin and is delightful.

You can view the latest adventures of Pope Francis and his aide, Franciscan Brother Leo, here. You can browse through past strips--going back to what appears to be the first one on September 12, 2013. I think there is a way to sign up to receive it weekly via email, too.

Enjoy a smile and some wisdom (as is often the reality "hidden" in humor, including cartoons).

Click to enlarge.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter realitites

Our friend Susan Smith who is a true "bird-whisperer," sent this photo and caption this week:

"Rescued this beautiful Scaup at 11th & Sassafras today. You can see the wound on his beak. Hope he doesn't have more serious injuries but he is in the good hands of Tamarack Wildlife Rehab now. Seeing him up close gave me chance to admire his beauty."

How the birds and wildlife survive in this harsh winter of ours is a miracle. We passed 100" snow today, although our temps are up a bit...yeh!

One summer they called her when city workers were cutting down dying trees and accidentally came upon a trio of baby owls! Sure enough Susan came, took them to Tamarack and the local paper followed their progress until full independence.