Monday, June 29, 2015

What I learned on my vacation--Part 2

A common sign along the Atlantic coast this time of year.

Great areas of lagoons and salt marshes separate the barrier islands off the east coast of the USA from the mainland. These marshes are the environmental home to many species of shore life--particularly birds and fish. This time of year you're likely to see the above sign as diamond-back terrapin turtles are making their way to the high ground adjacent to the marshes to lay their eggs. Often this means crossing the man-made causeways at the beginning of the summer tourist season.

This weekend I witnessed this on two occasions: We were in the left hand lane crossing the long road to the beaches. Suddenly the first car in the right hand lane, a little ahead of us, came to a rather abrupt stop; the SUV right behind screeched to a quick stop also; we slowed down to a near stop, too. As we all got going again I saw, off to the right, the one large turtle that made it across the road but wouldn't have if those two drivers hadn't been on the alert! Then, later that same day we were on another lagoon-crossing two-lane road when both lanes slowed considerably as all the cars carefully moved past a certain spot. When we reached it we saw a turtle on the middle lines of the road. At that moment a biker came by, stopped and as there was a break in the traffic went right out, picked up the turtle and placed it in the marches at the side of the road.

Diamond-back terrapin turtles

P.S. Now we also know the reason behind the naming of the University of Maryland sport teams: Go Terps!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What I learned on my vacation--Day 1

When I was in the novitiate my mother's best friend, Rosemary, had a baby. What was unique about this was that no one in their crowd of 8-10 couples had a child under 10, and most had teenagers. At that time such an event was called "a change of life" baby! What I still remember about it was how Rosemary regaled her "girl friends" with stories of how much the whole pregnancy and birth experience had changed since they had all had their children in the late 40s through late 50s.

On my first day of vacation this week I had a similar experience with a visit from a young couple with a two month old. What a difference from the last time I was around an infant for a day! Here are the top 3 things I learned:

1) Diapers are baby litmus tests! Did you know that diapers have a yellow line on the outside of them which changes color depending on what's "happened" inside? Our little visitor's turned "blue" about 4 times that afternoon.

2) Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spock is no longer the "bible" for mothers. It has been replaced by Mom blogs. Thousands of mothers are posting their experiences of raising children and sharing helpful hints with new Moms online daily. Our new Mom consults them all the time, but did add that for medical questions she goes directly to her physician.

3) Strollers, car seats and rocking chairs are the same thing. The car seat, when lifted out, fits into the frame of the stroller and when brought inside, sits on the floor or table and rocks the infant when pushed. What a deal! And the stroller itself is like a portable camping tent, complete with cover flap that you can see through, yet keeps the sun out.

On the other hand, the paraphernalia available for infants has reached volcanic proportions: i.e. the diaper bag has been replaced by a suitcase-sized tote. Such a disappointment to the new parents when their baby still chooses the empty box and kitchen pans as his/her favorite toy!

"Toto, we're not in Erie anymore!"

Monday, June 22, 2015

Seldom Seen #14

This "seldom seen" is not seldom seen because it's hidden away or on a seldom traveled path. On the contrary, it is really right out in the open. This is our necrology board and it holds the names of 261 of our sisters who have died since we came to Erie in 1856.

It came to mind for me because last week as we marked the first anniversary of Sister Veronica Byer, whose death last June marked the beginning of the 10-month span in which seven of our sisters died. So, when Veronica's anniversary was announced at Evening Prayer (which we do every day) I thought, "Oh my goodness, the first anniversaries of the seven sisters are beginning."

Our necrology board, located right past the coat room near the front foyer and switchboard . Two hundred and sixty-one names of Benedictine Sisters of Erie plus Sister Benedicta Riepp, the first Benedictine Sister to come to the United States. She helped found the community here, but kept going west and is buried at St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, MN. Most of our sisters are buried in Trinity Cemetery in northwest Erie, although 3-4 are buried elsewhere.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Buzz N' B's

Here's Sister Therese at the large pet store in west Erie, Buzz N' B's. She was visiting Lady, the conure she bird-sits most afternoons at her ministry. That's Lady in the second photo, seemingly unfazed by the presence of many other birds at the popular Erie store.

The larger bird is a macaw, said the owner, and is only 20 weeks old and is still being hand fed most of the time. He is almost ready to go to the people who have purchased him. Meanwhile, he enjoys a steady stream of visitors and goes easily even to stranger's fingers!

If you haven't visited our community website, lately please do--there are a large number of photo stories, Smileboxes and the new issue of The Mount to enjoy.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Our 2015 retreat is over and the week was very, very nice. Each day our Morning and Evening Prayer was organized and presented by a different sister or group of sisters. The result? Absolutely magnificent prayer periods.

The prayer leaders used that day's beatitudes as the basic background for the prayer and the creative pieces they incorporated from that beatitude's theme. Beautiful, creative and such a meaningful part of the days.

Here is another view from one of my walks through our woods. It was just an hour or two after a rainstorm so I believe this tree had a different look.

The tree right outside of Hermitage #2.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Seldom Seen #13

This week we are on retreat and one of the many things the week brings, if the weather cooperates, is much more time to be outside: reading, walking our grounds or, as in the case of Wednesday's Morning Prayer, praying on the patio and enjoying the many blessings of the natural world.

Anne and I took a walk to the lake via the woods and creek trail and saw many things that I have not seen on the 100s of other trips there. So I easily label them: Seldom Seen.

We were walking the boardwalk to the lake and another sister who was also walking at Glinodo pointed out this lone male cardinal singing away on the very top of a nearby tree. 

The very back of our backyard, right along the tree line, revealed a large swatch of daisies when we weren't able to mow as often as we usually do in May. Thanks to our mowers, the daisies continue to thrive and give a beautiful, natural look out the back.

This is really a rarity for me, as I live on the east end of the house and our bluebird house and its residents are often seen out the south wing windows. But here he was, on the pine trees shining brightly in the evening setting sun. WOW!

And here's a fuller view of the bluebird (see him in the upper left corner?). For those who know our place, I'm sure you recognize the Mary of the Streets statue and the large cross at the back of the yard. Some retreatants told me that if you just sit out there for an hour or so the birds put on a glorious show.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Seldom Seen #12

Down on our ground floor, on the south side, near the back door, are the workshops of three of our artists. They are seldom seen because they would not normally be open to our guests unless they were specially invited. Besides, they are not galleries, they are real working shops.

Here's one that shows where our Paschal Candle and many other beautiful candles begin: the candle work space. If you want to see the end results visit our gift shop, Chapter 57, and you'll be amazed at the beautiful arrangements of these and the other artists' works that rise from these everyday work places.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Today I want to share a couple of my favorite things--no special reason, I just like them.

First is this glorious scene that I see every morning on the way to my morning ministry. It's right on East Lake Rd. One thing that makes them so special, of course, is their size--they literally form a whole hillside of flowering bushes. But the fact that you can only see them like this for 2 weeks a year is what makes the sight so special. The rest of the year they are just ordinary big green bushes!

Secondly: I just finished my latest Ian Rutledge mystery and remembered again why I just love this series. The setting is 1919 England and although Ian is a relatively young Scotland Yard detective in London, his chief is always sending him out to the small villages and countrysides of England--giving him second rate or difficult cases. Those settings of village life and the challenge of "jobs nobody else wants" are what I enjoy the most. Then there is Ian himself. He has returned from being an officer in WWI and was involved in some horrendous fighting in France. This experience colors everything and, in fact, I think you could call these books psychological mysteries--not for the presence of some crazy killers or bizarre murders, but rather the struggle Rutledge goes through with his memories and experiences of war and the "adjustments" to life again.

The first book was written in 1994 and the 18th is due out this year. You don't have to read them in order, I didn't, but I think it would help if you at least started with an early one, because you can appreciate the progression better. Read more on amazon or any other book review site. You might want to give them a try. Here are the first three: A Test of Wills, Wings of Fire, Search the Dark. Did I mention that the writing is very fine, too? It is.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Seldom Seen #11

This weekend was what we refer to as "a free weekend" meaning that there was no community events for all of us. SBA did have their spring luncheon, but that affected only the grads of our 119-year old Academy that closed in 1988. The alumnae of the high school are a wonderful group and very faithful to their school.

Here are two seldom seen events I experienced on the "free" weekend: 1) Down at Glinodo we saw a young doe and her baby fawn, who was nursing right on the lawn next to Seven-Mile Creek. I did get my camera, but the doe was so skittish that I couldn't get a shot before she was off with her darling little one following her. 2) Here are the remnants of a nest, located right outside our back door where one of our sisters saw a mother bunny with her four new babies. Again, by the time I heard about it the bunnies were gone and this was all that was left, but it was interesting by itself as it is located on white stones with soft nesting material that she must have gathered from everywhere.

In case you missed WSEE's three-part segment on religious life in three women's community's in Erie here is the link that will take you to our 5-minute segment.