Sunday, July 14, 2019

Summer nights (and days)

We're continuing to work our way through the summer music scene here in Erie
and in the little towns surrounding the city. Once again we were in the vineyards
 (think the nearby Welch's grape factory) and caught our #1 favorite local band:
 Tennessee Back Porch. What an event...and such a huge crowd.
The music? Out of this world great. 

Since the nightly concerts go till 9:00 we get a glorious
setting sun in the sky just as the concert is ending.
This sunset was in between the trees.

But the hands down shot of the week is this one taken by one of our oblates
who caught one of our twin fawn in mid gallop/jump.
I have seen 100s of photographs of our deer but this is #1 by far.
We are getting treated to a daily exhibit of their running and jumping skills.
Darling, just darling.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Easter flowers

Here's a very sweet picture from our inner courtyard this week.
The blooming yellow flowers provide a pretty addition to our hummingbird 
and oriole feeders, which get emptied every few days, by the way.

The story of Easter flowers. Every Easter our liturgist is very generous in
giving away the flowers and greenery that we have in the chapel during the Easter season.
I have never had good luck planting them and getting them to "re-bloom" or come back 
the next summer. exception to that rule are these white Easter lilies. 
They are great at reappearing,  note that their natural appearance comes in July!
 They aren't as tall as they were when we first got them, but they are just as pretty.

We have four climbing plants and they bloom in order,
which was an accident, but a really nice one.
This is #2, pink star-like flowers. Number 1 is really early in June and
 #3 (purple) and #4 (white stars) are in August and September.

A little aside to anyone attending church this Sunday. The first reading from Deuteronomy is just beautiful. If you catch it, it's short and will pass quickly, I think you'll agree.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Summer music

Our first outdoor concert of the season: Sam Hyman at Arundel (Air'-un-dell) Winery just outside of North East, PA. Erie's own James Taylor...wonderful music!

And a Norman Rockwell-ish Americana....freight trains going through the grape vineyards! Eight in the 2 hours we were there. Tom Luckey would have been thrilled.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Our Morning Praise

One verse of our morning hymn "How Beautiful, Our Spacious Skies":
(adapted from "America the Beautiful" by Katherine Lee Bates, 1893)

"Indigenous and immigrant, our daughters and our sons;
O may we never rest content till all are truly one.
America! America! God grant that we may be,
a nation blessed with none oppressed, true land of liberty."

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Arborist wannabe

I won't get even to first base in the world of trees, but I think I may qualify as an arborist wannabe after the last year.

Since last summer I have had a hand in the growing and/or planting of 6 trees on our grounds. The first three I started from 10" sticks, a free gift for Arbor Day. The are dogwoods and they survived the winter wrapped in plastic piping as protection against the snow and wind. This summer they are growing like wildfire, right below my window in a protected garden area. A friend told me that dogwoods are loved by deer, as in eating their bark et al....but I am undaunted by this, choosing instead to "train" our deer to eat our apples and, maybe, not the young dogwood that I think will be ready for transplant somewhere in the yard next spring.

But my real thrill is in the three young (6-8' tall) trees in the front of the house. One was planted last September: a black gum. It was planted and staked, professionally, after we picked it out up at Stan's Garden Center. It and an American Larch that we put in this spring, again by professional trees guys, are in memory of Sister Anne's mother who died one year ago this week. They are both doing great.

A larch in autumn.

The third, I decided to try and plant myself. I read all about planting trees, found a site that listed the process in 10 easy steps, and took it on about three weeks ago. It's another memorial in honor of Sr. Maureen. It's a hawthorn and is, so far, surviving well. You can't miss it as the stakes are attached to the tree with yellow strips from an old t-shirt (yes, that was one of their hints!)

The maintenance men and I have been taking turns hauling out water in big buckets to keep them well hydrated during their early weeks (on days when it didn't rain). Again, I read that this is very important as it takes their roots a "lot of energy" to grow and establish themselves in the new soil.

A hawthorn in spring.

So, here we are in a new venture with great hopes and natural beauty to remind us of the beauty of our dear friends.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Adoring or Enduring

I'm sure that some of you adore and some of you endure my endless sharing of the poems of Mary Oliver. To me so many of them are a prayer, granted hand-in-hand with nature, but they speak strongly, yet simply of things beyond our limited human ways.

So when I read "Facets of the Maker" an essay on Mary's life and works by a fellow poet, but also a college student of hers, I just knew I wanted to share it with you--the adorers and endurers. It's quite different than reading a poem. Here you are reading about the poems, the poet and how she and her work fit into the world during her time.

Hope you'll give it a try. It was in one of the spring editions of America magazine.
Click here.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Guests having guests

We are still "basking in the afterglow" of the delightful golf tournament and the interactions among the guests and community members last Monday. And what should occur four days later? A weekend with a full house of summer guests! Since the weather this weekend was truly glorious we had a continuation of enjoyable hospitality with the many relatives and friends and people on retreat that came through from Thursday through Sunday.

One the most unique situations I like is when our guests have guests! That's happening right now as we have a recent college graduate here for two months working on a writing project. She's already had two guests come to "see what this place is" and is scheduled to have more as the months go on. They think nothing of jumping into a car and driving 7 hours for a long weekend, and, equally, we think nothing of pulling them into the place for a quick visit! Fun all around. One of them mentioned at lunch that she didn't expect it to be this warm and nice. "Don't you get a lot of snow?" she asked. "Oh, yes," I answered, "about 100" on average." I thought she was going to choke!

I think there's got to be a high correlation between lots of snow and extreme appreciation of summer. Because we definitely have both!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Julie and Whoopi couldn't make it.

At the now area-wide famous golf tournament this past Monday, my favorite part was when about 30+ of us sang an Irish Blessing before the buffet meal to the dining room full of golfers. Now when is the last time you heard a choir of REAL sisters sing? In the Sound of Music? Nope, actors. Sister Act 1 or 2? Actors again. A local production of the play Nunsense? Local actors! And even if you can go back to The Trouble With Angels or The Nun's and no....professional singers/actors. Until this week!

It really was wonderful to sing in front of a group of people who, for the most part, had never heard us sing. Luckily, the acoustics in the room were great and when our director gave us the first 2-3 notes--off we went, on key, clear and steady! You could have heard a pin drop---on the carpeted floor!

Click here to hear the schola sing. Scroll down a little to the one labeled "Gift of Community."

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Wisdom saying...

"After ecstasy, the laundry."

This week our own version of this wisdom saying becomes, "After retreat, the golf course" as we follow the famous Star Trek definition of its voyages: To seek out new life...and to boldly go where no Erie Benedictine has gone before---to a golf tournament fundraiser for the community!

Following a wonderful annual 5-day retreat this past week, we will be trekking (pun intended) out to our first fundraising venture into golf. Over 125 golfers will enjoy (we hope) time at a local golf club on behalf of funding our ministerial and community needs. Of course, they will be experiencing things that I'm pretty sure they don't have at most tournaments: the community choir singing a blessings, homemade chocolate cookies from one of our sisters, beautiful divot tools handmade from our wood turner and over half the community placed as guides and helpers throughout the course! Not to forget the pre-golf events such as Putt With the Prioress (trying to beat her to earn a free mulligan on their round) and a hot dog lunch on the grill by two sister-grillers (is there such a term as that?!??!)

I like everything about it so far...but this logo is at the top of my list...don't you love the clapper and the bell ringer!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Listening for another voice

We're on retreat this week...listening for another voice.


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Mary Oliver

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sitting on the back porch

Sitting around on the back porch has new meaning when you see ours.It's about 50' long x 15' wide. It's a patio, spanning the full length of our dining and community rooms. There are three outdoor round tables with umbrellas and 14 matching chairs, two picnic tables, 1 glider, four wood-like chairs (2 regular and 2 rocking) and two large Rubbermaid containers for holding pads for the chairs.

Additionally, there are three fierce-looking owls standing guard, just daring our scores of birds to do a flyover and make a deposit. Yes, they do work, we have no bird poop on our patio! On the west side is a large kerosene grill and along the entire length a railing that is perfect for two large flower boxes that were filled and hung this weekend. Very nice touch.

On the far east end are the remains of a rain gauge..just the backing, no cylinder. I'll have to find a replacement, now that there's no snow to measure, we have to measure something, surely!

And it is from this very patio that this past Wednesday we saw our first fawn of the season. The mother and baby appeared crossing Troupe Rd. and proceeded to race across the entire length of our backyard, sticking right along the tree line. The fawn, and was it ever small, was keeping up with its mother (miraculously I thought) and seemed to fly behind her. What a beautiful sight. We were able to alert the sisters inside quick enough that lots of them witnessed the hoof-race, too. Ah, summer.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A riot has broken out

in the form of irises! They are everywhere and they are just beautiful. The only "predator" they have is rain and we have had some this week, so it has taken a bit of a toll on the taller ones. The short ones seem to be able to handle it. Feelings of summer are really setting in a little now and it couldn't be welcomed more. Blessings on your summer days, too!

These are one of my favorites of all the ones we have around.
They are short and really stay upright no matter
the summer storms that come through.

This bunch is right downtown, right next to the curb of a street,
but they are beautiful and bring that beauty to the inner-city neighborhood.

These is a photo taken from one floor up, looking down from
 my bedroom window to the small garden below. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Expanding hospitality

This weekend we had a group from out of town for a weekend "retreat" of their own direction and organization. They filled most of our guest rooms and a hermitage or two. We only saw them at meals but they were absolutely lovely, easy to interact with, respectful and gracious. And they were all some kind of "Anonymous" member.

I checked on the internet and found over 30 Anonymous groups: alcoholics, over-eaters, gamblers, narcotics, codependents, sexaholics, workaholics, marijuana, nicotine anonymous and many more. Their commonality, it seems, is the 12 steps. It is the mainstay for all of these groups.

We have hundreds of people that come through here as part of our hospitality ministry. Most are friends, family members, oblates, many nuns or people in spirituality/religious ministries. They blend easily into our rhythm and daily life. But this group really gave me new thoughts on the hospitality we can offer: if we can provide a place that offers safety, non-judgment, kindness and respect, especially to relative "strangers" who need such, that has to be a very important piece of our Benedictine hospitality, too. I hope they'll be back.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Walling In or Walling Out

I read a line in an article last week that referenced Robert Frost's poem, "Mending Wall." I had little or no interest in classic literature in tenth grade but I looked it up now and sure enough, a totally different experience. Imagine, a poem written 105 years ago and yet as relevant today--human nature doesn't change all that much--and also in ways Frost may not have even imagined. I hope you like it, too.

Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.

The gaps I mean, no one has seen
them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down."

I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
he said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Looking up

The first of summer's holiday weekends was a welcome one. It brought later mornings, time to do things you just don't have the time to do when working every day, and the chance to visit friends, favorite places around town or just to relax at home. This weekend brought nice weather to Erie and, as we watch the "natural disasters" of rain and storms throughout the country every night on the news, don't think that we are not very grateful for our mild days.

Two media events also highlighted the weekend: the publication of the Spring/Summer Mount magazine and the appearance of our Sister Joan on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. You can read about them on our community website and other places that google will find for you!

These two shots were found by "looking up" as I walked around our grounds.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The merry month of May

May is a popular month for First Communions which had my friend remembering her all-time favorite story from her days as a 2nd grade teacher. Seems she practiced for the big day with Necco wafers and constant encouragement to the children to put their tongue out so that the priest could put the communion host on it. On the actual date all was going smoothly (so she thought) until right in the middle of the distribution to the long line of children she saw the priest, who knew of her practice technique, start to blush and obviously stifle a smile. Afterward she asked him what happened. He answered, "Everything was going fine until this one little boy blurted out before I could get in a word, 'Chocolate, please.'"

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Airing our differences!

One of our newer members got me smiling last week when she asked, "How are the air conditioning wars here?" I laughed right out loud and answered, "Just like everywhere else, 50-50!"

This weekend our temps spiked into the 80s and since our heating system hasn't been converted yet all 16 chapel windows came open and Sunday Mass was much warmer than usual. As I correctly predicted, 1/2 were thrilled with the "natural warm air" and 1/2 were perspiring and very uncomfortable! Only three majors areas at the Mount are air-conditioned all the time: the chapel, dining room and library. Fortunately all the bedrooms and offices can be individually set, so that makes the "wars" minimal!

Personally I had a change of heart last summer when our a/c system broke down for a week. The "natural air" lovers were just fine, but as I observed the real heat misery for the a/c lovers: perspiring, red-faced and over-heated, I realized that it's much easier for the "naturals" to put on a jacket or sweater than to get relief for the "a/c-ers." Besides, there are so many more important things in life than "fighting this war"!! So, if I'm ever asked that question again, I may laugh, but my answer will be: "There's no 'war' we co-exist happily."

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Amazing and lots of fun

Hope you haven't seen this yet.
Enjoy the creativity and technology: trop forts
( P.S. You can find more on YouTube.)

One of our little "waterfalls"!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Our First Creek Walk

The temperature was better, there was no rain and it became a perfect afternoon for our first Seven-mile creek walk of the spring. It starts right across from the bottom of the big hill as you go onto our Glinodo property and it ends right at a cliff above the lake.

May apples are's one with "an apple."

Ditto Jack in the Pulpits.

Numerous pairs of Canada Geese are around.
No goslings with these two.

Two little evergreens we planted 3-4 years ago.
Looking great!

Our neighbor's bird ferry boathouse,
at the very end of the path.

Pesky lawn and garden violets are pretty--
for about two weeks

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

May brings forth everything!

A couple weeks ago I posted "one of my favorite spring sights." Here are the other two (making them my top 3). When they've all appeared I know spring is truly, truly here to stay. Now if the temps would only settle down into a consistent 60 or so!

The tree in the center of the library courtyard is pure white for two weeks a year.
Drop dead gorgeous. Here it is from the library windows.

The two bleeding heart plants in the inner courtyard bloomed this week,
I mean the hearts themselves finally dropped. Another gorgeous sight.

Otherwise things are going along well in this Easter season. Our spring visitors are arriving every weekend. Last weekend we had 5, yes 5, of the blood sisters of one of our sisters here. They were was like having 5 clones of her around all the time: voices, mannerisms, laughs, everything. Great fun.

This weekend leaders in the L'Arche movement will be with us. Nice group to have, too. Some weekend retreats of our own are also going on this month, so we're all in our best hospitality mode! And, finally, our own vacation times are just beginning as some of our sisters are on a couple weeks of long-awaited vacation, now that the nicer weather has appeared and travel is a bit more doable/less risky. Hope they're having a wonderful time!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Weekend snips

A delicious pre-performance reception showcased the Mercyhurst hotel-restaurant management majors' talents.

Marinas are starting to have boats in the water and the bay is looking more and more summer-like.

Sweet chirping birds are appearing at all the feeders around the monastery.

Earlier blossoming trees are fading and later ones are just starting up.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The eye is better

My friend and I are having a kind of unofficial contest (no rules, no prizes) to see which one of us can take a photo of our thin, vertical chapel stained-glass windows that really captures what they look like to the human eye. We've taken so many of them--different light, flash or no flash, different times of the year, month, day....and they always, up until now, came out flat--never quite catching the gem-like twinkle and gleam that shines through them at their best.

Until now. Here's her latest, taken last week. It's a beauty and very, very close.

My turn now.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Monday, Monday

Did you ever have one of those weekends where you can't wait to get back to work on Monday---so that you can relax? That's what we had this weekend! Two days of great times but, whoa, lots of people, lots of wonderful input and lots of energy and experiences but I can't wait to get back to the relative calm of Mondays, Tuesdays, get the idea!

See our community website here for the usual fine, fine coverage of our life and you'll have mercy on me for wanting the "normalcy" of Mondays!

Did I mention that they were great days?!?!?

One of my top three favorite spring flowers in our gardens--white, white hyacinths.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Could be Minnesota

Today I talked to "Cathy" a gal in Minnesota that I talk to every year at this time. chat. In the course of the conversation I asked how they're doing, as I told her we've been watching the horrible April storms that have passed through. She said they were doing ok and that most of the snow has melted. "Most?" I thought, holy cow! "Are your daffodils up yet?" I asked. "Almost," she replied, "they are trying." My gosh, it's April 24th and they still have snow remnants and the daffodils "are trying." WOW....

Our last snowfall was March 31 and here are three shots of our inner courtyard. Daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and a gorgeous flowering magnolia tree are truly taking our breaths away. Sure we won the golden snow globe contest a couple times (this year we were fourth, thank God) but spring does come in April here.

Cathy ended with, "But it's a beautiful sunny day today, so I think we've turned the corner for good." I should hope so for their sanity---after all--next Wednesday is May 1.

BTW, that's a feeder that's suppose to attract Baltimore Orioles, who love oranges. Hmmmmmm, we'll see. One sister asked if someone had hung a pumpkin in the courtyard! Another thought it was a small basketball. We need a field trip to Wild Birds Unlimited!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Holy Saturday Triduum Day 3


Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.

Mary Oliver