Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Are you mechanical?

When I was growing up there was a popular "test" at the time, named The Kudor Preference Test. It might still be around today-not sure. Anyway, it was made up of what seemed like 100s of questions and for each one you had to select from the three options what your favorite was and what your least favorite was. Here's a sample I'll make up!
a) Walk a dog
b) Play with a dog
c) Teach a dog to fetch
So after answering thousands of these you got results that predicted, I think, possible jobs or things you were good at, or I suppose, areas to avoid...something like that. Anyways, in those kind of things I always scored pretty high..not 99%, but high enough, in "mechanical" ability.

Flash forward decades and here I was a newly arrived substitute for our handbell choir whenever a member was absent or sick for the weekly practices. I enjoyed it very much because it greatly improved my reading of music and it was a nice transition back to music after years of being away. A couple years of being a "sub" led to an invitation to be a permanent member when a position opened up.

Flash forward another few years. One day, one of the hard rubber hinges that is in each bell, cracked and I'm not sure of the next step, but "Yes," I said, "if there is an instruction booklet, I'll give a try at replacing it." (Memories of those pins used in the Kudor Preference were flashing through my mind!) Reading the directions carefully and trying not to break anything else on it, I finally managed to take the bell apart, replace the hinge and put the bell back together. The whole process probably took 2-3 hours, over a couple days, if I recall correctly.

So here we are today, dozens of cracked hinges have been replaced and I thought I'd share this adventure with you, as so many of you have probably heard us playing at various Mount liturgies. An aside to others of you who are "a little mechanical": I'm sure you'd guess which part is the hardest--not the taking apart, not the replacing of the hinge--yes, it's the putting it back together! Best to give the most attention, however, to the taking apart....that's what helps put it back again!

Here's the bell in one piece (D4).

Here it is with the handle and the inside taken off. The offending hinge is the black piece on the right,
held by the two small silver screws.

And here it is with every single piece separated. A very scary moment.
BTW, you'll notice that this is done on my bed. Nothing falls on the floor
or rolls off of the bedspread. They just stay quietly where you put them!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

In the 8th century

Today is the feast of St. Walburga, a popular, yet little known saint of the eighth century. She began her Benedictine life in England but traveled with her uncle, St. Boniface, and her brother to Germany to spread Catholicism and Benedictine life there. She and her brother became the leaders of two communities and when her brother died she was made abbess of the double Benedictine monasteries-one for women and one for men. One hundred years after she died her remains were moved to Eichstatt in the Bavaria region of southern Germany. The group of women who tended her grave site became the nucleus of what evolved into the present community of St. Walburg in Eichstatt.

In the 1850s Sister Benedicta Riepp and two other members of the Eichstatt community came to the United States to teach the German immigrant children in western Pennsylvania. From that first foundation 50 communities were founded, 35 of which exist today. Our community here in Erie is currently the longest in existence at 163 years of age! In the 1930s during uneasy times leading up to WWII, Eichstatt sent sisters again to the US and founded two communities that remain members of the German Federation today. One is east of Pittsburgh in Greensburg, PA the other in northern Colorado in Virginia Dale.

If you have time and would like to "visit" these communities, click here:
Abbey of St. Walburg, Eichstatt, Germany
St. Emma Monastery, Greensburg, PA
Abbey of St. Walburga, Virginia Dale, CO

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What longer, lighter days bring

Sorry to say, what with cold days, snowy days and short, dark days trips to our beautiful Presque Isle State Park have been all but non-existent over the last 2-3 months. However, this weekend, as our winter days are getting a bit less cold, less snowy and certainly longer and brighter, we made it out to Presque Isle and all around the entire peninsula. Here are some sights we found.

We have ice floes every year along our creeks and here at the bay,
but I don't think I've ever seen one that ended up perfectly vertical.

The ice fishing "tents" look better and better every year. See the "windows" and outside bench! Remember, they are usually heated inside , too. I've seen some with an extension cord extending along the ice for electricity or with a generator beside it.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Blessed the poor

Wonderful homily this weekend when our presider talked about the difference between the Beatitudes in Matthew and the ones in Sunday's gospel from Luke .

As he said, the ones in Matthew are the best known, the "nice" ones--the ones we sang through Sr. Mary David's song at the Gospel today. Then we have the ones in the Luke reading--less known and not even used as a gospel reading unless the pre-Lent Ordinary Time extends beyond five weeks in the cycle. They give us only four "blesseds" and follow them with four complimentary "woes." (Blessed are the poor.......Woe to those who are rich).

These scripture scholars...what depth and interesting reflections they are able to bring to the readings that can too often sail over our heads! Lucky us!

A rare window feeder visitor.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Whiling away the days

More suggestions for getting through these cold, snowy winter days: have a friend send you the New York Times annual full fold-out crossword puzzle--mount it on your bathroom door (sorry, no room for a card table), put the clues right beside it, and you're good for 2-3 months of standing and filling in clues---at least at my rate!!

Lots of fun--thanks Joanne!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Wisdom is everywhere.

Our bluebirds winter in their houses in our backyard.
Photo by Jo Clarke

We had a two-day celebratory weekend that included the feast of St. Scholastica (sister of Benedict) and the 2019 Prophet of Peace award. Lots of visitors, prayer and song, good eats and good times. However, it limited the usual weekend "down time" quite a bit. Which got me thinking about one of my favorite Zen proverbs: "After ecstasy, the laundry."

And that led me to an old Zen proverbs and koans book I are some more for your cold February Monday morning meditation!

Relax. Nothing's missing.

Rest and be kind, you don't have to prove anything.

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.

If you are unable to find the truth right where you are,
where else do you expect it to be?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

At last

This orchid's story goes something like this: five-six years ago it was a gift to one of our sisters. After the blossoms died off I inherited it, moved it to my office, began to water it once a week (the prescribed tablespoon), talked to it, watched the large dark green leaves live on and on, and went about my life. Two or three years ago I began to see these odd white things growing out of it (roots) and after quite a bit of time, it bloomed. Miracle! The blossoms eventually died off, repeat story.

Here we are again....the long, winding roots began about two months ago, the three buds maybe a month ago. Today the third one opened and I knew it was time to share yet another miracle!

PS A couple years ago I inherited yet another orchid. Water, talk, watch. Nothing....until a month or so ago...the roots are about 1/2 as long as these, no stalk for flowers even showing---yet I continue my vigil! What a hope-filled way to get through a winter.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sweet memories

At lunch today I was mentioning that I hadn't had a chance on Saturday morning to do my weekly watering of the six ferns that hang in our dining room because of community meetings that we had all weekend. But I was worried about them because the air is so dry this time of year and a couple of them looked especially in need of water. So I planned to water them during the half-time of the Super Bowl game!

This declaration lead to questions that brought these answers: a) for about 20 years; b) no, but they all are offshoots of the original two; c) I think they came from Sr. Mary Philip at a jubilee. Then we realized that this was the death anniversary of this lovely and quite unique gal, Sr. Mary Philip Kiehlmeier who entered the community in her 30s (unusual at that time) and lived into her 90s.

Sr. Lenore Shaw, another late bloomer, entered community twice in her 20s, (left both times) and then returned for good 30 years later! Lenore was a true "character" who we remembered this weekend, also, as our Super Bowl pool is always in her honor (she was the first organizer of this annual event).

I can't imagine we'll ever stop missing Mary Philip and Lenore....great women and very special community members.