Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day

"Leap Day" is a new term for me. I've heard it all over recently in all sorts of promotions leading up to Monday, February 29. It seems as if a lot of businesses, both local and national, are trying to cash in on yet another "holiday" as we have "Buy one, get the second for 29 cents" and similar specials all lined up for the Leap Day.

So, when I received a wonderfully creative link from one of my friends, I thought it would be a perfect Leap Day gift for all of you.

If you love, or even just know, Erie, I think you'll really like it; if you don't know Erie but wish you did (!!) you will, too. And if you just love your own city, you can search in YouTube to see if some clever videographer has done something similar for your town---and enjoy it there.

So, happy Leap Day and enjoy these time-lapse views of some of Erie's best:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

4 and 20 (No. 2)

Just so you don't think all the important and new things at our place are inanimate objects....the best ones are people and here's one:

Susan K. is our Food Service Director who joined us within the last 24 months. She brought a wealth of experience in food service for large groups with her and we are all so pleased with her and her staff (some she inherited, some are new). One of the nicest things about this staff is that they are totally open to opinions and ideas re: our meals. Not that they are able (or should) fashion individual meals for us, but they really do work hard at offering a combination of what is good for us and what we really like. (Sometimes those two things match and sometimes they don't!) Susan is also working in sync with our Health Service Director on the "what is good for us" part!

One last comment: our guests go wild over our food, especially our ever-growing and changing salad bar. We added the new salad bar at the time of our renovation in 2006-7 and Susan has continued its fine variety and offerings. I love watching the wide-eyed looks when our guests first see it (especially in the women who have an appreciation of what it takes to have 25-30 offerings...all cut up, fresh and arranged so attractively!)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lent "floes" on

For Lent, weekend #2 it was an unusual one.

1) We set a record high for the date, February 20th (66 degrees); that warm spell brought odd things, as you see from the photos of Seven Mile Creek and its rushing waters---with huge, 5" thick floes lining the entire length of the creek itself. Really quite the exciting annual sight;

2) My cacti, that normally reside in our library with its wide window sills, all decided that this would be the weekend for their February blooming; so I moved them to our divider and the sisters were most welcoming of such colorful beauty in the midst of our still pretty grey and wintry world;

3) We had a marvelous weekend of prayer--not unusual. The reflection at the Vigil Saturday night was creative and meaningful and the homily on Sunday was excellent, too. Our presider spoke of changing a Lenten stance of "I am going to..." "I want to try this.." or "I am doing this.." to "God is leading me to..." or "God and I will...." Very challenging thoughts on who is in control and why it shouldn't be and really isn't "us."

The creeks leading north to Lake Erie are full and rushing this weekend. The huge, thick floes are beautiful to behold.

My white, pink and yellow cacti must have discussed their second blooming and decided this year to have it at the same time. Beautiful. The yellow one was begun from one leaf of Sr. Benedict Grotzinger's cactus that I first saw 20 years ago. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

4 and 20 (No. 1)

Four and twenty blackbirds.
4 + 20 Mercantile--furniture store in Ohio
4 + 20 name of a US thoroughbred
4 + 20 Bakeshop in Columbus, OH
4 + 20 Cafe in Princeton, IL
Rev. 4:4 "twenty-four elders in white with crowns of gold."

No, none of those are the 4+20 I'm thinking of.

This is for those of you who haven't been able to visit our place, Mount St. Benedict, for at least 24 months! These are things you haven't seen, well, maybe in photos, but not live. So I'd like to bring them to you every week with hopes that you will be able to see them for yourself soon!

Since we seem to be having our entire winter season of snow in the end-of-winter month of February, it is only fitting that the first entry to this series be our new side door sidewalk! After years of annually having to repair/replace cement on this sidewalk because of water/pothole breaks and cracks, not to forget the falls and near falls of everyone trying to negotiate 75' of snow-covered, icy ground on the way to and from the side parking lot...we opted this last time to replace it rather than repair it, with one that we could heat after snowstorms. This is its first winter and VOILA, it has been a marvelous success: no falls, no cracks around every pillar, no chunks erupting from ice forming underground. Terrific all around--and hopefully a long-term good savings in the years to come.

I include our favorite little birdhouse--which is located along this sidewalk--after our most recent heavy snowfall. Yes, it is inhabited all winter!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lent begins--with a surprise

Lent began on Wednesday and we have already had three beautiful "liturgies": Ash Wednesday services, the Vigil of the First Sunday and the First Sunday itself. That said, I grabbed my camera right after lunch Sunday and headed toward chapel, thinking that I would try to capture a photo of the sparse environment, which, although devoid of the usual plants, along with any other small dashes of color, has a beauty in its starkness and barrenness that certainly lends itself to the Lenten depth and seriousness.

What a surprise I got! Our last few days have been the coldest of the season, dipping to the single digits, but with the cold comes clear skies and bright, bright sun. Look what that did to our chapel:

P.S. Stay tuned: On Thursday I'm starting a short February-March weekly series titled: "4 and 20."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

a.m. and p.m.

In the mornings this is our "office companion," Lady--a very sweet, smart and beautiful small parrot. Except for occasional squawking outbursts, she is a friendly co-worker. Here she is all decked out for Mardi Gras.

In the afternoons my office is bedecked with plants and flowers...both inside and outside (well, not now exactly, but the other three seasons for sure!).  A few weeks ago I showed you our blooming orchid, only two flowers then. Here it is with six and I found the seventh open this afternoon--after this photo was taken.

I read once that we should make beautiful and personal the places where we spend most of our time, e.g. work spaces. I hope you have made yours such--40 hours/week is a good part of life!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Beauty amidst the bleakness

Took a twirl around our peninsula this weekend and was delightfully surprised at what a bright, warm sunny day can do to an otherwise black, white and grey winter state park.

Following a week of above freezing temperatures and many sunny days the ice on the bay is gone, as are the ice fishing huts. Even the lake's dunes looked smaller and the lake itself, except for right up against the shore, was ice-free, also. A week of cold, cold temps would surely reverse all that but, thankfully, that is not predicted---yet.

There were numerous cars making the rounds on a weekend afternoon and I found these two shots to share.

Many,  many Canada geese winter on Presque Isle. They are majestic and beautiful, as are their cute little fuzzy goslings, come spring. If it just wasn't for that one characteristic, people might welcome them more!

As you near the Perry Monument and travel well past it, you encounter hundreds of white birch trees, which at this time of year stand out in the leafless wooded areas. This little grouping is right at the east pier and looks like longtime friends meeting for coffee on a cold winter afternoon!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Be cured. Cure others.

One of the liturgical things our community does so well is take pre-Vatican II prayers, devotions and Catholic practices and update them into the 21st c. post-Vatican II spirituality. Joan Chittister has done this marvelously in a number of her books and booklets: one on the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed, novenas, the Liturgical Year and the rosary to name a few.

The community does the same thing, as our liturgists adapt the true message of the devotion or practice and bring it forward, so that it will speak its universal message to us today.

Case in point. February 3 is the feast of St. Blaise. Connected to his feast is the blessing of throats with long crossed candles--at one time actually lit candles! Today we continue this devotion but here is what we say with each person as they come forth for the blessing:

Through the intercession of St. Blaise
may your throat be free from all maladies.
Utter nothing unkind.
Be cured. Cure others.


I think it's quite beautiful and does "fit," so to speak, with the times.

Just caught the 4:00 pm sun crossing past the west wall of our chapel and illuminating our seven tall narrow "jeweled" windows. They were just shimmering, along with their reflections on the ceramic sides.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Where did January go?

February 1st! Where did January go? Our January ended in a flurry this weekend with a wonderful Sunday morning liturgy and then an afternoon prayer service as we hosted the annual Interchurch Ministries winter event. Very nice in all ways: variety of participants, songs and prayers. One gentleman cornered me and insisted that we get serious about cutting a CD with our music. I told him that we had done that, albeit 17 years ago. He just kept saying that we ought to do another one. Nice compliment!

February with Lent beginning very soon and the feasts that come along, too, including the cultural "feast" of the Super Bowl next Sunday, will bring another busy month. One day at time hardly covers it. A friend of mine says, "One hour at a time!"

P.S. Our local newspaper continues to be enamored of the goldensnowglobe contest. We lost first place last week, yeh...but then regained it by less than 1/2". Geesh, competition in a contest we don't want to win!