Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tim is home

She got to go outside for the first time since May. She sniffed all around the neighborhood then came back in.

She found comfort in her nook again.

She's finally willing to lie on the couch with me.

A favorite perch.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Rant #2, Food - 17 July 2015

When you donate food or money for food to a cause what do you expect from the donation? Do you believe it will be packaged up and delivered to the intended recipient within a reasonable amount of time? Or do you think it will be stored for months, perhaps years before being given? 

This spring M witnessed the delivery of a shipment of donated food. If I remember correctly, she said the delivery date was supposed to be in November but it was delivered many months later. Many of the items were well past their expiration dates. The semi-perishables had not been packed securely and were infested with maggots and rat feces, among other vermin. Much of the food was not usable. Was the woman unpacking it angry? No. She was grateful for whatever they could use. Was M angry? Very.

Where was the snafu? Who knows? Who cares? Obviously the shipper didn't. And people have been known to donate food long past the dates on the packages. Why? What is charitable about giving something that is useless and perhaps harmful? When your local food bank or the post office collects food, do you go thru your pantry and pull all the old cans to donate? Or do you check to see what is needed and pick up those items on your next shopping trip? Think about it. 

Whether the food was individually collected or purchased with donated money or part of a government program, it was not properly handled. Somebody didn't care. That somebody was probably wasicu. Makes me embarrassed, angry, sick.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

An Episcopal Rant - 16 July 2015

It’s nice that some of our young people are headed to the Dominican Republic to host Vacation Bible School. It’s good to get a sense of other cultures. I contributed to the expenses for one of them. But.

In June and early July, I drove to Portland, OR to sing a week with Berkshire Choral International then headed home. I stayed with friends including many I had known only online. The one person I wanted to meet and visit more than all the others was Rev. Margaret Watson, Episcopal priest on the Cheyenne River Mission in South Dakota. 

Margaret is a hero for all of us who know of her work - carefully documented on her blog Leave It Lay Where Jesus Flang It and on Facebook. First of all, there are 9 active parishes under Margaret’s charge. She and her husband Joel, also ordained, live next to St. John’s in Eagle Butte, SD. I don’t know how far some of the churches are from Eagle Butte but I know that Cherry Creek is at least an hour and the road I saw isn’t paved. Dupree is close. Promise looks to be an hour and a half. Getting the eucharist to all of them once a month is probably the easy part of her ministry unless the weather doesn’t cooperate. 

Life on the reservation is unlike anything any of us can imagine. It is not a different lifestyle. It is a different world with different rules and expectations that are somewhat rigid and knowingly prejudiced against wasicu - us - for good reason. The Lakota were migratory but they were forced onto reservations where they could not travel. They did not have the advantage of staying on familiar land like the Navajo and Hopi. On Cheyenne River four tribes were forced together. They have not adapted as well as the Cherokee and other groups. Their history is a sordid example of US government mistreatment, theft and lies. 

Alcohol, drugs and suicide provide a steady stream of trauma and funerals for Margaret. One recent weekend she had a wedding plus three funerals with wakes. She attends tribal events and is heavily involved in the lives of the Lakota in her charge. When I was there over the 4th of July she was called to the tribal hospital twice, once for an infant who survived then again for a teenager who hanged herself and didn’t. At the powwow she baptized two then buried five or six people the following week. Many of the children are alone and basically feral. There are gangs of course. Even the young ones wonder if it will ever stop. How can the children be inspired, led, corralled, educated to see that there can be a future? I left with lots to ponder. 

Margaret deals with all this herself. She has immersed herself in Lakota culture and endeared herself to the people. She is only one person however and the work is immense and intense. She needs another priest. Desperately. Her husband Joel is not well enough to help except as support. She needs our prayers and far more.

Fortunately she has a most wonderful bishop, John Tarrant. He appeared on Easter a couple of years ago to help visit the many parishes. He is totally supportive and much appreciated.

Meanwhile our Episcopal young people go out of the country. Why can’t they help Margaret and others like her try to deal with our own people? While Sudan and other places need help, why can’t an Episcopal diocese or two fund Native American seminarians? Or help rehab homes, schools and churches? Or work with the youth? 

Why can’t the sister city of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania be Eagle Butte or Promise or On The Tree??? They are certainly easier to get to and at least as needy and deserving.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

On to Portland

The Portland journey blog is here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

And more clouds on 21 April 2015.

What glorious skies we have had! The weathermaps look like they have polka dots with little storms coming and going. Here are today's photos.

The cloud below reminded me of a spaceship overhead. I didn't get a good photo of it tho.


Clouds on 20 April 2015

A trip to Pittsburgh had us watching the clouds as the sun would appear for awhile then the rain would come for a few minutes. Some of these were taken with the iPhone, others with the camera. They are in no particularly order timewise other than the last two.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

June journey planning

The map is inaccurate but the itinerary is getting together.

Boone, NC
Chattanooga, TN
Birmingham, AL
Thibodaux, LA
Houston, TX
San Antonio, TX
Sailing near Austin?
Albuquerque, NM
Grand Canyon, AZ
San Diego, CA
Watsonville, CA
San Francisco, CA
Napa, CA
Portland, OR
Salt Lake City, UT
Denver, CO
Eagle Butte, SD
Kirksville, MO
St Louis, MO
Muskego, WI
Chicago, IL

Suggestions, invitations, warnings, and other thoughts are welcome in the comments!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This was a good Thanksgiving. Given nearly catastrophic weather predictions for Wednesday I decided to drive all night hoping to avoid the snow. That I did. I had to stop for a nap twice and am grateful to my guardian angel for keeping me alive when I got sleepy. I'd prefer to not do that very often.

I still don't think the turkey was totally cooked tho we didn't get sick. The thermometer said it was done.  Maybe it was just a tough turkey. It was a gift to an employee with whom we spent the holiday. The red hots in the apple sauce were abundant making it more like spicy cinnamon chunky sauce. It was really good that way. The sweet potato souffle, forgotten by the hostess when she left, hence available for us was awesome. I brought some home. Yum. The green bean casserole and smashed potatoes were also good. Then after an interval, we ate the pumpkin pie with an unlimited supply of foosh foosh and nobody to tell us we were using too much. Sorry I didn't take any photos except of the dog.
This is Kaya catching her tail and going round and round with it.

Here she is much quieter guarding the door.

I'm glad we don't have this here. Fortunately I had the twenty I needed to pay cash. Would our prices be lower if we had this option?

The drive home was quite lovely. There were slowdowns by shopping areas, especially the outlets near Tannersville. Otherwise everyone was in a hurry, most driving at least ten mph faster than the limit. The State Police made a huge haul near Lamar. One guy followed so closely that I could see everyone in the car but not the front of the car. Eventually he whipped around me on the right and drove alongside for a bit. I gestured that he could pull in front of me. Eventually he did and roared off. I prayed he was one of those caught but I didn't see him pulled over. My gas mileage was awful. The Prius doesn't like to go 72 or 75 in a headwind in winter. At all. But it will.

I hoped there would be a pretty sunset when I took these on 58. But there was no color at all. The sun just disappeared behind the clouds.

On a whim I messaged my Westminster Choir College German teacher Wednesday when I recovered. She responded and we had a long conversation. Next time I go to NJ we need to get together. I'm sure I'll find an excuse before next Thanksgiving. This really made the trip extra special!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Help the Cheyenne River Lakota and the people who minister to them

It is bitterly cold in Eagle Butte, South Dakota today, 17 November 2014, with a high of 6 predicted. People are freezing to death. If they had the resources, churches could be heated and opened. The Cheyenne River Episcopal Mission includes ten mission churches, many without heat beyond a wood stove, running water and/or electricity. Many of the people live in similar conditions. If we are to call ourselves "Christians" or followers of Jesus, how can we allow these conditions to exist?

Learn more about life in the Cheyenne River Mission here.

Please open your checkbook and your heart and send funds to:
The Diocese of South Dakota - 500 S. Main Avenue - Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6814.
Please make sure that you indicate it is for the Cheyenne River !!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

St Paul's Episcopal Church, Mayville, NY, Sunday, 16 November 2014

Another adventure over new roads today took me thru Sherman, NY. The road to Mayville is like a kiddo's roller coaster - gentle hills - unlike some of the NW PA roads I've driven that are more like Cedar Point scary at speed. The day began with blue skies but clouds moved in during church.

St Paul's Episcopal Church is on Erie St and easy to find.

The front door leads into a small vestibule where there is a visitor's book but no writing utensil. A turn to the right goes into the church. Go straight across the back and down the steps to the parish hall. Several people spoke but I needed the necessary room which was at the bottom of said steps. When I returned the choir was gathering. I had to move people to get to the pews. The usher(s) welcomed me.

As soon as I sat down the crucifer came and introduced herself then invited me to coffee hour. People were all friendly. Apparently attendance was down a bit possibly because of the weather. I didn't count. There are something like 50 families in the parish. The racks in the pews held two BCPs and one hymnal each. There were card holders but most were empty tho I saw something a few rows down. I didn't investigate. There were lots of tiny pencils tho.

During the prelude the choir and others chatted rather noisily at the back. It was distracting and a little rude, I thought. Several people commented on how they loved the prelude. I wondered how much they heard. The lay reader was good. She read as if she were telling a story - my preference. The crucifer carried a candle rather than a cross during the Gospel procession. They sang something after the Gospel. The words were in the bulletin but no music. The sermon was about all of us being Jesus's "lieutenants" or stand-ins until he returns and that we should not bury our talents. The choir had six people and the priest sang with them. The crucifer was the eucharistic minister. There were no acolytes. At the end they sang something and again the words were in the bulletin without music. That was a bit irritating for this visitor who likes to sing. How about a pew card or the tunes pasted in the hymnals? After the eucharist a number of prayer shawls were blessed then two were taken to people in church. They seemed surprised and grateful.

It is always good to sit down by someone at coffee hour and have them actually make conversation rather than just say hello then talk to a friend or family. When I complimented them on their friendliness they said membership fluctuates occasionally between St Pauls and St Peters Westfield depending on who is being more welcoming at the moment. One woman and I had a long conversation about Chautauqua Institution, especially the Amphitheater plans. The banana chocolate chip cupcakes were sinful. They make good coffee too. And they said they love their new priest.

The windows are bright and lovely. Some on the sunny side were too washed out to post. My overall impression was that the church was quite dark but the windows helped. I learned that they have had them cleaned and reinstalled. I'm soooooo jealous. Christ Church Meadville needs that done desperately.

The priest's daughter was waiting for choir practice and the vestry meeting to end.

The organist was rehearsing the choir men. They are very happy to have a competent organist again.

The church owns the house next door and use it for their outreach activities including their food pantry.

By the end of church, the clouds had thickened making Chautauqua Lake look desolate.

I've always wondered why gulls like parking lots. The casino had hundreds of them. These were in a plaza in Erie on the way home. They did not want to move out of the way.

Yes, I know I said last Sunday would probably be my last new church adventure. I'm a prevaricator. And it may happen yet again. There are plenty of Episcopal churches left to visit tho most are a long distance and it is winter in NW PA now. I'm getting pressure to return to my "home" parish but I'm not getting much encouragement that conditions have improved enough yet. C'mon, folks, step up and get involved. If and when I do return, I will not be doing most of what I was. Where is the newsletter? Who is taking care of the Facebook page and the website? Where are the new lay readers and eucharistic ministers and acolytes? I love all y'all but I believe that church is more than an occasional Sunday morning. Church is a community brought together to serve each other and those outside the walls.